by Bob Bond
As busy clinicians, our professional thoughts most often focus on our patients/clients. How can I best meet my patient’s needs? What can I do to help them excel? What will we do today to meet their goals?, and what will we do at our next visit? Always looming in the background however, are questions about efficiency and productivity. For clinicians in private practice, those questions likely loom as large as the clinical ones. This month, we introduce you to Bob Bond of WriteUpp.com, who has some suggestions for private practitioners on how to cut down on paperwork time and improve productivity.
How’s this for a scenario?
● One place for all your patient related information, including: notes, appointments and assessments, scanned paper records and bills
● No software to install
● No data to keep backed-up
● No specialist hardware required – run it on PC, Mac, iPad, Android Tab etc
● Collaborate with team members
● No paperwork to lose
It’s now more “do-able” than you might think…
These days most of us are pretty accustomed to using technology in our personal lives but until recently, cost and complexity tended to put the majority of technology solutions out of reach of most SLP’s in their professional lives.
Of course, some SLP’s will always prefer pen and paper and that’s just fine.
But those of you that have dipped your toe in the water have probably had to bolt together a mish-mash of products (such as Email, MS-Office documents, Google Docs and storage platforms like Microsoft Live “SkyDrive,” Amazon’s “Cloud Drive,” Google Drive, iCloud, Dropbox or SugarSync) to manage your practice.
Thankfully though, time’s are a-changing!
A new breed of simple, affordable “cloud-based” Practice Management Systems (PMS) is coming to the market. These products combined with fast internet and increasingly ubiquitous WiFi are transforming the way SLP’s work and collaborate.
What does a Practice Management System (PMS) do?
Obviously different systems do different things but the core functionality you should look for in a PMS should include the following:
At the heart of every PMS is a secure patient database that is accessible to all authorised users. The PMS acts as a hub for all your patient-related information, including: Appointments, Notes, Assessments, Documents, Attachments and Invoices.
Manage your diary anytime, anywhere (as long as you have internet access). Schedule different appointment types (Initial, Follow-up, Travel, CPD etc.) with different durations (and where required different costs) and reconcile all of your appointments to the appropriate patients – a real time-saver when it comes to billing!
Write up and securely store your patient notes which are time/date stamped and locked-down after 24 hours in accordance with HPC best practice. Insert images, videos or annotated images directly into your notes.
Access a library of Speech-specific assessment templates which can be completed and attached to the patient’s record. Some providers will even convert existing paper-based assessments into electronic forms that can then be used within their applications.
Some systems allow you to create templates for documents that you create on a regular basis such as Patient Letters and GP Letters. These are then pre-populated with the appropriate information such as the patient’s address or the GP’s details so that all you have to do is enter your comments/professional opinion etc.
Sadly, none of us can go 100% paperless. Doubtless you still receive letters or reports in paper form. With a PMS these can easily be scanned and attached to the patient’s record so that everything is in one place and securely accessible from any location.
Different systems offer varying degrees of complexity when it comes to billing. Some provide the kind of detailed functionality that you might expect to see in accounting system, whilst others simply generate invoices based on appointments attended and supplies/goods provided to your client (where appropriate).
What is “the cloud”?
In the context of a Practice Management System it means the software is web-based, so there is no software to install and all of your data is stored in a secure data centre “in the cloud”.
You can securely access the PMS from any location using a web browser (such as Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, Apple Safari or Mozilla Firefox). All you need to do is enter your own unique URL into the address bar (such as http://yourpractice.writeupp.com) and login with the credentials, both of which are provided by your chosen software provider.
Regardless of your location (you could be at home, on holiday or in your clinic) you will be able to access your diary, notes, assessments, attachments, documents and invoices.
Its worthwhile pointing out that a PMS may not be for everyone and not all PMS’s are equal. Most of those that have come onto the market are aimed at mid-to-large practices and as a result they are very feature-rich, which may not suit smaller practices.
If you are a sole practitioner or a small practice and you are open to embracing some simple technology, the benefits you will enjoy from adopting a PMS are likely to be:
● Centralisation of all of your patient-related information in one place
● Accessibility anywhere (with an internet connection)
● No need to jump from one system to another
● Reduced administration time
● Improved collaboration with colleagues
● Faster billing and quicker payment
If you are considering a PMS there are a few things to bear in mind:
1 Test the product in your own environment before you commit. Most providers will allow you to try out their software for 30 days or so
2 Keep it simple. If you are a small practice you don’t need lots of bells and whistles
3 Verify the credentials of your chosen provider. Where are they, what’s their track record? Have they worked with any government approved bodies?
4 Gain specific assurances around data security. At the very least data should be backed-up and encrypted real-time but ideally your provider should replicate to an alternate off-site location
5 Don’t pay for features that you don’t need
Try Before You Buy
There are a number of web-based practice management systems on the market however most are aimed at mid/large clinics (i.e. 5 clinicians+).
WriteUpp is a very simple web-based practice management system aimed at sole practitioners and small practices. It provides all the functionality necessary to run an efficient, paperless clinic and includes a number of SLP assessment templates.
It costs as little as $24/month and a free 30-day trial is available if you go to WriteUpp.com and click on “Try WriteUpp Free”.
About the Author
Bob Bond is the CEO of WriteUpp.com, a web-based practice management system based in Europe. He has extensive technology experience having worked for Oracle Corporation and SAS Institute Inc. and is also the Founder of Pathway Software, a leading provider of systems to therapists in the NHS (National Health Service).
Contact Bob at:firstname.lastname@example.org
Phone: +44 1422 399525
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