Have you gone paperless yet?

You should. Seriously. 

Ok. Here is the deal. Most of you are solo business owners who are trying to do it all and be it all. And guess what, if you want to be really effective, you have to find a way to outsource some activities. 

I've talked with hundreds of therapists across the world, so I know that many of you do NOT have the budget to hire administrative staff. And guess what? With a great paperless office, you probably don't need to! 

When I was in graduate school, my professor told me to prepare to spend 2 hours on administrative tasks for every 1 hour I spent with clients. For someone who loves helping people, but doesn't love adminstrative ridiculousness, this made me sad. I was also determined to get as much face time in with clients as possible, without sacrificing my legal and ethical obligations. (This might be why I finished gathering my 3,000 hours so quickly.) 

When I developed my own private practice process, I was determined to go paperless. And guess what, there wasn't much out there. I was actually a beta tester for two of the first programs that rolled onto the market back in 2007. Initially, I hobbled together a solution using a Word Processing Program and IronKeys that was secure, but still cumbersome. 

The software they have on the market today is progressing my leaps and bounds. Every month programs are rolling out new services that are all meant to make your life easier, and your clients happier! What does that mean for you? It means that there are people who WANT your business and are determined to make your life easier, save you time, and save you money. 

The monthly costs can range from under $30 to over $100. That monthly cost might stop you in your tracks. But, let me ask you this, can you hire an administrative staff for less than $100 a month? I'd be willing to bet the average clinician (if they choose wisely), saves at minimum 10 hours per month. 

For me, I not only spent MUCH less time on billing, note-taking, and treatment planning, I also had less anxiety. I could also check on my files, ensure payments were tracked, print out receipts, and so much more.

I recently moved from California to Washington and it was ah-mazing to know that there were no files to securely transport! I can still easily access files, past clients can complete releases of information as needed, and I don't have a locked down filing cabinet in my new home office. 

It made running a business so easy- I even started a second business on my off days- because although I didn't want to burn out doing trauma work- running a business was easy and fun! 

Have you gone paperless yet? I think it is time to stop putting it off! You can enter to win 1-year of Simple Practice (one of our personal favorites on the market right now) here

p.s. 

Are you struggling with this, and other aspects of enjoying the business side of your private practice? We are going to be launching a 1-week private practice bootcamp that is all about the nuts and bolts of running a private practice at the end of March. If you would like to chat about whether this program would benefit your practice, drop us a line at help@zynnyme.com (We will send out the big announcement at some point-but for now an e-mail works). 

Want more articles about therapists going paperless? Here is just one I've written. It is interesting how quickly things are changing. Like, today- the practice management system I recommend does look great and integrate securely with my calendar! 

My Requirements for a Practice Management System

Social Media is a Worthless Time Suck

bigstock-Many-straws-close-up-isolated--56717540.jpg

I got invited to talk about social media to a group of psychotherapists. Guess what the majority of therapists think about Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Social Media in general- that's right: Time Suck!

And I will be honest- for many business owners I see using social media- it is a time suck and a distraction from running their business. While for others, it makes them hundreds of thousands of dollars. Are some business owners just lucky?

No. While they may have stumbled on to how to do socially media effectively- it isn't luck. So what is it?

I have the secret that turns social media from a time suck to business building. And it isn't rocket science. Any business owner can do it! How cool is that?

#1. Know Your Client

#2. Be Intentional

Let's tackle "know your client" first. I know on the surface this sounds simple. However, I talk to business owners everyday that are stumped. Why is all this time I'm putting in not doing anything?

Again and again, I find passionate, inspired business owners being bland online. They want to be as inviting and inclusive to everyone- so they speak to no one.

Do you really know why your clients choose you when you get them on the phone or in person? Do you understand what makes them call YOU in the first place? If you don't, it is hard to be authentic and "you" when using social media. And bringing that authentic, professional out to the community is what people need to see. 

Second thing that gets missed? Be intentional. It is really important for you to understand your potential client's experience and make the process as easy as possible for them. In other words, you need to understand deeply the "conversion" process. What takes someone from "looking" to "buying" or from "maybe" to "scheduling?" 

I have done trainings for years. I have a great reputation as a speaker. People remember me. Sometimes years later those people purchase my services. Years. Later. 

At the close of a session with 38 people registered this last Saturday- I had  about 33 people sign-up for my newsletter- over 25 signed up an upcoming free training. Twenty asked for information about a free consultation. 

As people came forward to hand me their "sign-up" sheets an attendee came up and said "so this is what you mean by conversion?" Yes. Yes it is.

While my training style has probably improved over the years- the most striking difference is that Kelly and I have been more intentional about understanding the conversion process and making it easier for us to get to know potential clients.

Getting potential clients calling us and wanting to work with us is really fun. And, it means we get to pick the best and brightest clients to work with. We don't feel like we are desperate or chasing- and that means we only work with people we absolutely adore! 

Do you know what that translates to? Clients who are passionate, ready for change, and who get intentional with getting their vision out there fast. 

We just started one of our 8 week marketing bootcamps- and 4 days in we have clients signing up full fee clients and one selling an amazing program at the pricetag of $3,000-something this person hadn't even dreamed of being possible. How cool is that? We are so proud of the way our clients dig in and are ready to rock- and that isn't an accident! More than half of the people in our current program found us through our social media strategy! What would it mean for you if you could have twice as many clients? Or, if all of your clients were awesome and passionate?

It is in these moments that the vision of my life becomes more and more clear. Who are you passionate about helping? And no, "anybody who will give me money" isn't a good answer. Or at least, it isn't an answer that is going to make social media worth your investment of time, energy, or money. ONLY use social media if you are truly passionate, have a clear audience, and you are ready to be intentional. 

Social media is as powerful and effective as the person who is using it. Tap into your power! Share below who you are truly passionate about helping. Share the most important thing you can teach these individuals. 

The "M" Word: Talking to Therapists about Money

So this weekend Kelly and I presented at the 2013 Annual California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (CAMFT) conference. We go to present for 1 hour on Top Tips for Going Paperless. And while we did our best to pack as much in as we could in such a small amount of time- it wasn't enough! (We had sent in a 4 or 6 hour proposal for this topic and they gave us a 1-hour slot! (Which we are SO glad we got to talk and meet some awesome therapists!) 

So... as we were agonizing about what we include on our slides, I noticed how uncomfortable I was with the idea of putting any words up that related to money or profits. Why? Because I knew that it would set off alarm bells in our audience. 

Read More

For Therapists: My Requirements for a Practice Management System

PracticeManagementNeeds.jpg

So, I have been getting a lot of questions lately about how to keep online therapy notes, the best software for therapist treatment planning, etc. There are a ton of options out there, and I have gone through the process of interviewing, beta-testing, and playing with dozens of electronic health record (EHR) that are made for therapists and physicians. 

After both testing, and also using a BAD program for over a year, I learned a lot about how good a practice management system could be, and also how bad it could be. 

Ultimately, going paperless is about more than just taking my therapy practice paperless, it is about streamlining my business, doing more of what I love, and having a profitable business. While everyone's needs for a practice management system or Electronic Health Record are different- this is what I have found to be true for my therapy practice: 

The must-haves: 

  1. Must allow clients to electronically sign paperwork. If I have to keep a separate physical file, or do scanning for everyone who walks into the office- we have a problem ;0) Why? Because scanning, sorting, uploading, labeling, etc. takes a lot of time.

  2. It must allow clients to complete paperwork/questionnaires online that I can customize. This allows me to develop my intake paperwork online. In a perfect world- clients would complete their basic information and it would auto-fill CMS-1500 forms and other information.

  3. It needs to be secure... I almost forgot to say this because it should be obvious lol... HIPAA compliant, secure, backed up, secure! This means a program that is encrypted, among other things.

  4. It needs to securely store client's credit card information so I can bill them at the start or close of the session. This feature not only leaves more time in session for work- but it allows me to easily bill for late cancellations or no shows and sets a very clear boundary. (This feature alone more than pays for the other features). While Square and other programs are quite handy- I have found the auto-billing a feature that both the client and I appreciate- it saves us BOTH time!

  5. Ability to easily print up CMS-1500 with no extra work from me- it needs to all come together in such a way that when I enter treatment plan, diagnosis, etc. in the records I never have to re-enter that information.

  6. I need to be able to securely access this data from my smartphone, laptop, etc.

  7. It needs to leave no, or next to no data on my laptop/smartphone so I am not storing things on my computer if it ever crashed (died) or was stolen.

Optional- but nice: 

  1. Automated reminders for clients (clients love this).

  2. Room scheduling.

  3. Ability to have a front office staff person who can schedule without getting into progress notes and such.

  4. Clients can upload and download files.

I was lucky enough to find a program that has all of the above. Actually, it was partially luck, and partially more than luck- ask me to tell you the story sometime! I have all of the above and LOVE it! Here is what I wish the program I am using had: 

  1. I wish the document/questionnaire maker was easier to work with. It can be a little finicky at times- so I don't find myself making new forms very often ;0)

  2. I wish it looked a little prettier-more modern.

  3. I wish it had a secure messaging system attached to it where clients and I could exchange more secure communication that was automatically added to the client's records.

  4. A secure way to integrate/sync with my regular calendar system- I know this is tricky to do securely.

What about you? What are your requirements for a great practice management system? What could make your business easier to run? Or make your clients feel really taken care of? 

Going completely paperless… A few tips to streamline your practice even further!

Ahh… isn’t it great to be rid of those mountains of paperwork? Still find paperwork building up? Here are some quick tips to help you go to the next level and have a stress-free healing space!

DropBox is a free program that allows you to easily backup documents on your desktop, laptop, and even your smartphone. This is a great place to store forms, contracts with managed care people, and things that make your business run smoothly. However, DO NOT store clinical information here. Although it is encrypted- DropBox does not have the correct privacy practices in place to secure medical data.

EverNote is a free program that you can link to your scanner for keeping track of receipts, business materials, and more. It backs up all of your materials. Of course, this requires us to actually take the time to scan things in….

MyOfficeDrop is a paid subscription program that takes the pile out of scanning. They send you an envelope each month. You can put in any materials you like and they will securely scan them and then shred and recycle or return them to you. All documents with type become searchable and are backed up in a secure repository where you can easily search and access your data. You might just consider this for your home office where things start to pile up!

Shoeboxed is an alternative to Evernote that is setup to easily track all of your receipts. You can take a picture with your smartphone and a live person confirms that all information is entered in correctly. You can get rid of the receipt after that and simply share the receipt information with your bookkeeper, accountant, or import it into QuickBooks.

Get an EASY TO USE scanner! There are all in one options as well as desktop options that will make your life easier. I recommend playing with a friends or colleagues and making sure it is EASY PEASY! And, then use it as little as possible! Focus on elimination of paper.

Consider upgrading to a windows based tablet computer when your computer finally dies. You want a tablet that allows you to use a special pen to write that will auto-convert your chicken scratch into type!  

Hope these quick tips help you to feel inspired today to start the new year with practices in place that streamline your business so you can do more of what you love: healing and living!

ZynnyMe.com provides down to earth technology coaching to help you build a business that lets you live life! All of these resources can be found at http://zynnyme.com/zynny-loves/

1 little computer, 3.3 million people, how much will it cost?

So, a local-ish hospital system came into the office on Monday to find that one of their desktop computers had been stolen. Probably cost them about $500 to replace. No big deal right? Wrong! This little theft might amount to more than a half a million dollars!
Read More

A Technofabulous Office - the Paperless Options

Before you say anything, don’t look at your office and the file cabinets. Just because you have files, doesn’t mean you can’t go paperless! If you have a private practice or a group practice, you can start now and deal with your file cabinets later. Don’t let scanning and such deter you
Read More

The Tech Savvy Office

Imagine, if you will, the ultimate in tech savviness for your office. What do you see? I mean...your office might start to look like a scene from Star Trek. But at Zynnyme, we like to keep things simple. These are our top must haves for getting your office tech savvy
Read More

Do you have the time to be successful?

I talk with people regularly who are passionately committed to being successful in their small (or large) business. Only one small problem: they don't have time to be successful... Does this sound like you: Stacks of paperwork Unfinished documentation Unfinished projects A long list of calls to return A desk that looks like a nightmare
Read More

For Clinicians: The Path to Paperless...

Got a great comment/question from Uriah Guilford at http://helpthiskid.com "I really want to go paperless, but haven't found the right software or program. I did the Argonaut trial, but just didn't like the look and feel, not to mention the yearly cost. Are there any other products you would recommend?"
Read More

A Word of Encouragement

Here is a short video by yours truly, Kelly Higdon sharing about how going paperless and integrating technology has made running a private practice easier, more profitable, and made my LIFE better. 


You can do this! If you have fears about technology - email us at help@zynnyme.com

Top 10 Signs You May Need a Technology Coach

Thought we might have a little fun this morning with a David Letterman style Top 10 list... wait a minute- is he even on? Wow... I am a dinosaur... Guess y'all know that this gal doesn't stay up past 10 pm- or subscribe to cable!
Read More