Most rehab therapists would agree that working one on one with patients is the best part of their day. Yet, with every patient you treat comes the necessary documentation. While documentation is a major part of any PT’s daily routine, it shouldn’t take up more time and energy than necessary. And if you’re relying on antiquated software for your practice’s documentation, billing, and practice management, you’re likely experiencing your fair share of inefficiencies and expensive workarounds—which can put a serious drain on potential profits and lead to therapist burnout. This begs the question: Is your software due for an upgrade?
In this article, we’ll cover 10 questions to help you assess if it’s time to ditch your clinic’s current software system.
Is your current documentation software aligned with therapist workflows?
Using an entirely web-based system turns a time-consuming documentation process into an efficient, organized, and seamless experience. The key to success is making it work with your therapists’ workflows so that the documentation experience is streamlined from start to finish. In short: Your EMR should enable therapists to spend more time treating and less time documenting.
For example, customizable documentation software allows for clinics to create templates that have pre-populated problems and goals. Therapists can also remove entire subsections or fields that are not relevant to the company’s documentation needs. Auto scrolling, keyboard accessibility, integrated fields, search bars and customizable notes are just a few of the features that make physical therapy documentation as smooth as possible. If your current software is missing these powerful features, it’s most likely a good time to think about upgrading.
Can clinicians and front office staff securely access your clinic’s software anywhere, anytime?
If not, it’s probably time to think about what’s keeping you from the cloud. Dated systems often have limited access as compared to newer, cloud-based technology. Particularly as remote work and telehealth appointments remain prevalent, accessing software on the go allows therapists to spend more time focusing on the patients, resulting in an improved experience for everyone.
Are you often troubleshooting an unresponsive, buggy software system?
“One or more of our systems seems to go down weekly, but we still manage to get everything done—eventually.” Sound familiar? Unreliable software makes even simple tasks difficult to complete. What would otherwise take minutes to accomplish can turn into significant chunks of time—which can create some serious friction internally.
Eventually, therapists will tire of having to stay after hours to complete their documentation—if they haven’t already. A 2019 study published in the Mayo Clinical Proceedings noted a relationship between EMR usability and burnout. Even after adjusting for age, gender, medical specialty, practice setting, and hours worked, the study found that “on a zero-to-100 scale of usability—the higher the better—every one point boost in EMR usability was linked to a 3% lower odds of physician burnout.”
Clinics are currently fighting extra hard against burnout while still adjusting to the pandemic’s aftermath, so it’s critical to mitigate as much provider exhaustion as possible by using optimal software systems. Modern solutions like WebPT can even provide real-time clinical intelligence to provide you with the data required to optimize clinical operations—thus, helping you avoid burnout.
Does your current software provide free training and support?
You might have a software system vendor that charges your clinic a small fee each time you contact customer support. Or maybe it is nearly impossible to reach by phone or email. Either way, take it as a sign to switch to a system that meets your needs.
Software training and support make a huge difference in the overall success of your clinic. If you fully understand how to customize your software, you’ll be able to get the most benefits out of it and use it in a way that makes their work as efficient and productive as possible.
Does your billing software seamlessly integrate with your EMR system?
Worried that non-Medicare patients are being seen past their plan of care? Using a billing software that is integrated with your EMR system is a serious game-changer. Integrated systems offer streamline reports to ensure claims go through without a hitch, ensuring you get paid faster. Pro tip: Look for a billing software that also waives all clearinghouse fees—you won’t be sorry!
Is your clinical software system helping with compliance?
Many clinics routinely turn to outside resources for compliance advice and have no real way of knowing whether they are meeting the required standards. If you’re in this situation, upgrading your software will solve many of the problems you’re most likely facing on a regular basis. Using web-based software will allow you to constantly receive alerts regarding the proper application of the 8-Minute Rule, functional limitation reporting (FLR) G-codes, ICD-10 codes, and more. With this advantage, you’ll be able to save yourself time, money, and headaches. Features like this can make all the difference in submitting clean claims—and avoiding dreaded payer denials in the long run.
Does your software system allow you to collect and analyze patient outcomes data?
Ideally, your software system should include a built-in library of evidence-based, risk-adjusted tests to track patient outcomes. If this is the case, congratulations! Your software is perfectly up-to-date.
More commonly, however, software systems allow for the collection of outcomes data, but make it difficult for that information to be leveraged effectively. Even worse, some systems don’t allow for collecting outcomes data at all, preventing users from proving their value as providers. Patient outcomes tracking data is a powerful tool, so if your software system is lacking in this area, it might be time to make the switch.
Does your current software system help you engage with your patients and highlight treatment progress?
When patients are able to see their treatment results in real-time, it makes a huge difference in how they view their treatment. Unfortunately, some software options have limited outcomes tracking capabilities which prevents therapists from effectively highlighting treatment progress.
Using a software solution that highlights patient progress allows clinic staff to build stronger patient relationships. Additionally, collecting patient feedback through patient engagement technology has been proven to reduce patient dropout and increase patient loyalty. If your clinic is struggling in this area, upgrading your software will make a big impact on your patient engagement, progress, and outcomes.
Does your tech stack enable patients to register online—and then automatically transfer this info into your EMR?
Clipboards are so 2019. Today, most patients have adapted to and have come to expect online registration. If your current software does not enable your patients to fill out their registration paperwork online, it’s time to think twice about your patient intake process. Completing paperwork online not only saves patients time in the waiting room—but it significantly increases both convenience and efficiency for clinic staff as well.
Online registration also makes for an easy gateway to implement a patient engagement program. Once you have them onboarded with an email address, you can keep the connection strong—even after their visit.
Can you easily create shortcuts within your clinic software system?
Oftentimes, software vendors offer customization options—but they come with strings attached. For example, these options may only be available in a special tiered contract package or may require users to make special requests for any and all customizations.
Your software should be extremely flexible—and configurable to your needs. For example, WebPT’s SOAP notes documentation software has an Advanced Profiles feature that therapists can leverage for specific procedures, problems, and goals for patients with similar diagnoses. These can be included with their treatment-specific profiles to increase documentation efficiency and consistency. Additionally, multiple profiles can be added to a single note making the treatment of multiple body parts a breeze.
After asking yourself these questions, you may come to realize your software system is lacking. If that’s the case, fear not! Upgrading your software is easier than ever—with the right technology partner, that is. Have any specific questions about your clinic’s software needs? We’d love to hear from you in the comment section below!