Starting a Counseling Practice Part 6: Do you need an EHR

Starting a Counseling Practice Part 6: Do you need an EHR

We've revived this series while we are away bootcamping! Bootcamp is now over so now we are resting...but that doesn't mean we can't still help you!

Before you start researching all the different Electronic Health Record (EHR) options out there, how do you know you need an EHR and how do you choose?

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What is a practice management system?

While there are a few people in life inspired to run a business because they love the idea of doing profit and losses, tracking expenses, and doing taxes- unless you are a CPA- that probably isn't why you went in to business. 

Most people go into business because they are passionate about meeting a need or helping people in some way (even if it is just selling their product they think is awesome). Or, I should say, we hope that anyone who is reading this blog is actually passionate about they do- if you aren't, we recommend finding what we let you get your passion back or getting a new job! 

So, what does all of this have to do with the idea of a practice management system?

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Your Practice Building Tip of the Week!

Have you gone paperless yet? If you haven't you should really consider it!  There are many benefits to moving into electronic health records. A few of my favorites? Security, Time Savings, and Money Making. 

#1. While most therapists cite fears regarding going paperless related to fears about security- the truth is, your filing cabinet system  probably isn't as secure as you think it is. In fact, as an intern, our receptionist locked the keys in the filing cabinet. Miranda to the rescue! I grabbed a butter knife, bent it open, then bent it back, and we went on our merry way... until I started my own private practice and had a big "doh" facepalm moment of: "I can't believe it was THAT easy to break into the filing cabinet!" 

And for the clients I was working with at the time, their Protected Health Information (PHI) wasn't just private or confidential- it was a matter of their life and their safety! We were primarily working with domestic violence victims. 

A great, HIPAA compliant computer system protects your information in ways that you don't even know. Also, the people most likely to want access to that information (family members, exes, etc.) won't be able to just strong-arm their way into your office and access it. 

#2. Time savings. This is the other things that therapist expect- going paperless will take too much time! I will admit, there is a learning curve with anything! But, a good paperless office system (also called a practice management system) should SAVE you time and energy. I recommend that you transition new clients initially as you "get the hang of it." And then, once you feel more comfortable, move the rest of your people as if you were starting a "file 2 of 2." Make a note in your paper file that the file continues in the online portal. Keep those in your filing cabinet for reference for the next 6 months- and then great a VERY solid filing cabinet to keep those guys in for the duration. I don't recommend that most therapists take the time to scan their old files page by page. It just isn't cost or time effective. In 7 years, (or years until 18 + 7 if you have kids) you can shred those bad boys! 

#3. Money Making. Many therapists are concerned about having another expense added to their practice. However, a great practice management system should help you save time, energy, and make back money in your practice. I saved easily 15 hours per month in private practice time by having a paperless office. It also made it easy to ensure that I got paid at the time of each session, or easily paid for a no-show or late-cancellation. Having a clear boundary about these issues made life easy and gave me a consistent paycheck. And, truth be told, I would rather spend 15 hours with clients than do filing or paperwork ANY DAY of the WEEK! 

For me, going paperless was tied into my aversion to paperwork. I knew long term it would be easy to get side-tracked on paper files and that I worked better typing things online. I also LOVED that my program made printing a CMS-1500 for clients to get reimbursed as easy as printing a receipt. 

What about you? Any plans to go paperless in 2014? We have tentatively planned a webinar in the beginning of January about paperless best practices and highlighting how to choose which program or software program. 

What is our current favorite? The makers of who built an awesome platform for pre-licensed therapists collecting hours for licensure in California has developed Our clients are loving its simple interface and awesome customer service. We also working with them to get a little somethin' somethin' for our subscribers ;0) How cool is that?