How to Select the Best Mental Health Practice Software for Your Practice
Choosing mental health software for electronic health records (EHR) can be tricky. There are many things to consider when determining if a product is right for your practice’s needs. From practice size to growth trajectory to deciding to do your own billing–every detail must be accounted for to ensure you choose an EHR system that is the best fit for you.
Although having an EHR system for your private practice is a great business decision in general, health regulations regarding electronic health records may make it even more beneficial. As of 2015, certain mental health practices (mostly psychiatrists’ offices) had to begin meaningfully using EHR to be eligible for incentive payments. Even if this doesn’t yet apply to your practice, being ready for a potential shift to all electronic health records in the near future means you’re ahead of the game and prepared to grow your practice as times change. You’ll also have the added bonus of enjoying the many benefits that come along with having a great mental health software to manage your practice.
There are many mental health practice software systems available on the market today, and it’s often confusing to know which one to choose. In this post, we breakdown what you should look for and the questions you should ask of your EHR vendor.
One of the most important issues surrounding EHR is the security of records. It’s imperative that the EHR you choose has proper security measures in place to ensure the safety of your (and your patients) data. When choosing a software, you want to make sure it is:
- HIPAA compliant
- Encrypts data both in transit and at rest
- Securely stores and backs up data regularly
It’s all very well purchasing fantastic psychotherapy practice management software, but when you need support and service, is it available? Real-time support by phone, email, web, or online chat is an important feature when you’re considering an EHR vendor. Some software systems even have a communication portal for direct access to the vendor.
Support isn’t only important when things go wrong, but it is also an important part of making sure things go right when you begin using your new EHR system. If you have multiple staff members who will have to access the software for the different functions they perform in the organization–you want to make sure everyone is comfortable with the system and can continue to do their job. Will the EHR vendor provide training, and if so, is that included in the cost? Having an EHR system that is not user-friendly and impossible to use is worse than not having one at all. Instead of propelling your practice forward, it’s going to end up holding you back. At TheraNest, not only do we have top-notch customer support, but we also have training classes and live webinars so you can be sure you (and all of your staff) are getting the most out of the software.
In addition to usability, you also want to check in to see what services or assistance the vendor offers regarding implementation and data transfer. Patient and practice data must be entered to get the system up and running, which all takes time and effort. Having an EHR system that can offer services to migrate your information or features an easy to use format to transfer your data, can be a lifesaver.
Before researching for an EHR vendor, have the following information available:
- How many clients does your practice serve?
- How many therapists does your practice have?
- Do you plan on expanding your practice?
The answers to these questions will help you decide what type of mental health practice software you need. Some software vendors base their quotes on the number of therapists who are going to use the system, while others do it according to the number of clients.
At TheraNest, we believe the latter makes more sense, because the number of clients, not the number of therapists, dictates your income. Therefore, our plans allow you to have an unlimited number of therapists and staff on your account. This means you can streamline your whole office using TheraNest because all your employees will have access to the software without increasing your overhead!
Will the Mental Health Practice Software Meet the Need?
The next item to think about when you’re choosing mental health EHR and practice management software is features. What do you want your software to do for you?
- To monitor how your practice is progressing?
- To check patient retention rates?
- To send appointment reminders to patients via voice calls, text messages, or emails?
- To bill insurance and self-pay clients easily and intuitively?
- To submit insurance claims through clearinghouses?
- To allow you to accept credit card payments from your clients?
Additionally, one of the main functions of mental health practice software is to enter therapy notes. How much detail can be recorded on the system? For example, can the exact words that patients use be entered? Can you create your own custom forms to fit your needs? Are therapy notes easily exportable as a PDF file? These questions are important to ask yourself when you think about what you need your practice management software to accomplish for your practice.
Features to Think About
There might be some features you may not know to think about when initially searching for an EHR system for your private practice. We’ve highlighted a few that we think are especially important to note:
- Integrated Client Portal: a way for clients to complete intake forms and submit payments online.
- Robust scheduling abilities: to ensure that you won’t have to rely on other apps to schedule appointments and prevent no shows.
- Reporting and analytics: a mechanism to give you a snapshot of the health of your practice.
- Clearinghouse partnerships: so you can be sure you are getting the best deal for your billing.
- Mobile application: to have the ability to take your work wherever you go.
These features combine to create an EHR and mental health practice software that is designed to meet your everyday needs while setting you up to succeed in the future by streamlining your practice and helping you to grow.
Some vendors offer product demonstrations while others give free trials of the software. Take advantage of the options available to you as it gives you a chance to work with the software–allowing you to explore its strengths and make sure it’s the correct fit for your counseling practice. Make notes as you go so you have a list of questions and comments for the EHR vendor. At TheraNest, we offer both a 21 day free trial of the software and one-on-one demos so you have adequate time and resources to explore everything our software has to offer.
Making the Decision
Once you’ve done your research, approached vendors on your shortlist, and checked out their products, don’t put off deciding which software to go for. Once your mental health practice software is up and running, you can take a step back and get to what matters: helping your clients.
Ready to start taking advantage of TheraNest’s great features? Start with a free trial