Many therapists in private practice worry that they do not have enough time to spend with their clients, respond to emergencies, research emerging healthcare trends, and stay up-to-date on best practices in therapy. Automation offers the promise of spending less time on administrative and bureaucratic tasks so that you can spend more time with your clients.
The technologies that could eventually change the way therapists operate are still in their infancy. Artificial intelligence, for example, could one day help you manage much of your practice. For now, these forms of automation offer significant benefits, often with little or no upfront investment.
Training, Support, and Management Apps
Therapy is an inherently subjective undertaking. Getting a client to assess their mood, their emotions, or their daily energy level can be challenging, and most clients don’t have the time or motivation to track these attributes multiple times a day. Apps can change this. Mood tracking apps make it easy for a client to log their mood over time, which can help you assess how well therapy is working. Physical health apps can also be an invaluable therapy tool that reveal how much a client is sleeping, whether they're waking up in the middle of the night, even whether they’re having panic attacks.
Therapy doesn’t end when the session is over. Clients need to practice the skills they learn, but getting them to do this homework can be difficult. Mental health training and education apps can encourage clients to stay engaged between therapy sessions, and can even present daily assignments for improving mental health. You can then discuss the results during each therapy session, giving you more data about your clients’ progress and mental health.
Automation is increasingly making it easier to tackle administrative tasks like scheduling. Artificial intelligence may even soon be able to supply virtual assistants, but for now, most therapists rely on practice management software or human virtual aids.
The right program can answer phones, direct clients to the right voicemail line, and even use an automated system to help clients schedule appointments. That means less time on the phone, and less money spent on receptionists and other administrative help.
Client Screening and Record Tracking
Thorough client intake procedures ensure you get all the information you need to correctly diagnose, treat, and support clients. The right details can also help you track progress against clients’ prior symptoms and specific treatment goals. Automation makes it easier for clients to complete intake paperwork prior to their first session. This gives you more time to talk to them about the information in the paperwork and set clear treatment goals.
Some programs also empower you to track changes over time. For example, you might input your notes from each session into a client’s record, allowing you to see changes in the client’s mood or emotions. This can even help you establish helpful correlations. You might notice that a client reports more anxiety during the winter months, or more depression prior to a major holiday.
Storing Data and Following Privacy Laws
Practices are increasingly converting to digital storage. This makes it easier to access client records, and to quickly respond to record requests. It’s also more secure than paper records, but still presents some privacy concerns, especially if you do not store the data in a secure manner. Automation makes storage easier, such as by automatically backing client records up to an encrypted cloud storage system. The right program makes secure storage seamless, such that all you have to do is supply the records and set a password. Just make sure the program is HIPAA-compliant, which means the data must be securely encrypted.
Managing and Submitting Insurance Claims
Submitting insurance claims has always been a hassle that can steal hours from your week. Leave out a single piece of information, and the claim may be rejected—necessitating even more time. A number of programs now help you submit insurance claims the meet your provider panel’s requirements. You simply input the right data and the software does everything else, from tracking receipt of the claim to alerting you when a claim is past due.
Marketing Your Practice
Marketing your practice is critical to success. It can also be one of the most tedious aspects of owning a business. Automation makes it a little easier. Automatically insert ads into relevant sites or into search results with Google’s various marketing packages. Or use social media advertising to drive the right audience to your social media page or website. With these tools, you can enter a few keywords or target a specific demographic and be done. You’ll then get actionable data, including insight about what time of day your social media posts perform best and which keywords generate the most traffic for the lowest price.
A better marketing plan means reaching more clients. That means more opportunities to make money. You can then reinvest this into other tools that grow your practice, such as even more marketing, a new receptionist, or a larger office. Marketing your practice can also help you establish a coherent brand identity, which you can then use to land speaking gigs, write guest blog posts, or establish yourself as a regional expert.
GoodTherapy supports therapists to make the most of their resources while educating them about new and emerging practice management tactics and technology. Members get listed in our popular directory, and gain access to hundreds of hours of continuing education webinars. Join us today!