You dislike even thinking about billing for your counseling services. After all, you got into this profession to help people. The financial aspects can all feel just a bit icky and dealing with insurance is confusing. But you have to charge clients a fair amount, so you can continue helping them and others. Choosing the right therapy billing software will help you think less about your practice’s financial and operational aspects, so you can focus more on what really matters to you — your patients.
Your operational software will manage the business and administrative side of your practice. It will create, store, access, and protect patient information. As you might imagine, there are a ton of therapy bill software options. And a lot of them probably would work well for your counseling practice. However, which one you choose depends a lot on the size of your practice, your budget, and the features you need. Those first two things are pretty easy to address, but the features are a lot to process.
When choosing software, look for one that’s specific to mental health. These types of software are different from more general medical software because they are specifically for mental healthcare practices. In other words, they should have lots of specific features you need and few that you don’t.
Three examples of features mental-health specific software includes are:
- Mental Health Codes. It contains specialized codes that make the billing process more accurate.
- Customized Forms. It provides customized intake and evaluation forms to help you collect more useful patient information.
- Medical Record Storage. It allows you to create and securely store and access patient records, making all aspects of your practice paperless and storing all documents in one place.
Below are some additional features to look for when deciding which billing software to use.
You want therapy software that allows patients to schedule appointments and link those appointments to their billing. Your office staff also should be able to use the software to schedule patients for appointments, track patients’ schedules, and document cancellations and no-shows.
But don’t reinvent your entire productivity system to fit the software. Instead, choose a software that integrates with the calendar you already use, whether its Google Calendar, Outlook, or something else.
Billing and Invoices
The billing and invoice function is a critical feature. You want to be able to customize these documents. You also need software that includes the correct mental health codes for billing.
In addition, you want reporting features like the ability to:
- Track open bills and claims
- Run patient statements
- Send collection notices
- Log payments and refunds
- Run financial reports
- Track your practice’s revenue
Having a paper-free practice means using the billing system for all notes. You and your staff will want to customize all documents within the software to include your logo and fields to accommodate your practice’s specific needs.
Look for a therapy software that includes:
- Intake Forms. It will save you and your staff a lot of time to send clients the forms they need to complete before their first appointment. Having digital intake forms means the client can complete the information needed to establish your partnership before coming to your office. You also can view their forms once they’re completed and make an initial assessment about their treatment plan.
- Treatment Plans. Document your individual patient’s agreed-upon treatment plans. You can review these quickly before each session and document progress after each appointment.
You want clients to be able to schedule appointments and receive secure, HIPAA compliant messages from you and your staff. This ability cuts down on the number of calls your office staff has to answer.
Choose a software that allows you to prescribe medications and send them electronically to your patient’s chosen pharmacy.
Medical practices must stay in compliance with local, state, and practice-specific rules, like HIPAA. Choose a software package where you can track your practice’s operations, ensuring they are in accordance with industry regulations and alerting you when something needs updating.
Credit Card Processing
The majority of your clients are likely to pay with a credit or debit card. Choose software that has integrated credit card processing. Your clients can pay on-site or when they get their bill, and their account will update automatically. Another tip we have is to assess the different credit card processing fees. One software may be cheaper at first, but have a higher processing fee. Look at the details to determine which is the right fit for your business.
Insurance claims and tracking their status can overwhelm your staff. It also can cause payment delays. Choose a medical billing software that allows your office staff to track medical claims more efficiently.
Choose therapy software that offers the following claims management features:
- Electronic claims processing
- Claim tracking and scrubbing
- Claim history
- Claim reconciliation
- Insurance payers listing
Whether you plan to do telehealth or not, it’s a good idea to select a therapy software package with telehealth features. In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic showed that the most flexible businesses also are the most resilient. Having a telehealth feature that integrates into the calendar will let you move clients to virtual appointments when or if you need to.
A key to the financial success of your practice is making sure you have enough patients and that they attend their appointments. But people are human. Things come up, or they simply forget their appointments. It can be frustrating because you could have filled that time with another patient who needs help. Purchase a software solution that includes automated appointment reminders. These reminders can be via text, email, or phone call, so look for the options that best suit your clients.
You and your patients are likely to use your smartphones at one time or another to access your practice software. Look for software with a mobile app that you can access anytime, from any place. Make sure the app works for iOS, Android, and even Apple Watches.
As a counselor, you have different security needs for your clients. You have to protect your patients’ medical records and store them in compliance with HIPAA regulations. Any practice software you choose must have security features like encryption and passwords. The need for careful security is another reason to choose mental health-specific software.
You’re a counselor, not a computer wizard. Make sure the therapy billing software you choose has top-notch support, just in case you need help. Consider whether they have email, web, and phone support. And, of course, training materials are available on their website for times when you or your staff just don’t quite understand how to use a particular feature. You want to ensure that you get the most out of the software you choose.