therapy for children

Why Schooling Options in 2020 are Particularly Challenging for Children with Disabilities

This time of year, parents are generally buying up school supplies, meeting teachers, and getting kids ready for another year of school. Things are different this time around, to say the least. Parents are currently facing the tough choice of whether to send their kids back for face-to-face learning or to continue with some version of virtual learning or homeschooling.

As hard as this may be for the average parent, this range of choices could actually be considered a luxury when you talk to a parent of a child with special needs. It may not be possible for them to provide at home the opportunities and supplemental services their kids get from attending school. These children often get to work with teachers trained in special education and have access to various types of therapy.

While schools can provide critical services for children with disabilities, the difficulties of going back to school during this pandemic could unfortunately negate some of the benefits.

Why do we care so deeply about this specific struggle facing the greater community? 

We’ve worked with many pediatric therapy clinics at TheraPlan and EEP over the years, so we’ve had lots of firsthand experience talking to parents of children in need of therapy.

Furthermore, one impetus for starting our joint businesses was our founder’s personal experience parenting a disabled child. We may provide services to therapy clinics, but we also have a personal understanding of what it’s like to visit them as the parent of a young patient on a regular basis.

Lastly, we know that many of you are therapists and clinic owners serving this very population. We feel it’s critical to highlight the importance of being sensitive to the huge life changes that therapy patients and their families are experiencing. It’s easy to get frustrated with all the shifts that may be affecting your business and revenue right now, but the ultimate goal of therapy services has not changed. Presumably, you aim to make the joys and milestones of everyday life more accessible to those who cannot reach them alone.

You likely know the facts about why this is hard for your patients. Yet, tough things can come up when you’re speaking with parents who are in the midst of making hard, emotional decisions about education. A deep understanding of what they’re worried about could help you connect more deeply to your patients and make your sessions a source of even greater comfort for them.

  • Sensory issues could make wearing masks nearly impossible. As you are no doubt aware, children who are differently abled can have difficulty with texture and touch, for example. The feeling of having a mask on for even a short period of time could be simply unbearable for many. This is particularly so for those on the autism spectrum. If you aren’t already, suggesting solutions that other parents have used could help both the patient and parent feel less frustrated.
  • These same children who feel the most uncomfortable wearing masks need the most protection. Existing physical conditions often coincide with immunosuppression. The cost of teachers and school support staff not taking precautionary measures could be much higher for disabled children. Taking a few minutes to discuss the schooling options and what they’re most concerned about can help parents feel reassured.
  • Parents may want to abide by the mandates that are intended to keep us all safe, but feel they simply can’t force their child to do so. This can bring up guilt, fear of judgment, and more tough emotions. Giving parents your professional support in processing the real risks, as appropriate, could be more helpful than you know.
  • Families of immunocompromised children may feel even more isolated than the rest of the world does. The huge toll that isolation and exacerbated worry takes on parents is no small thing. Just saying “I see you and I know how hard this is for you,” can go a long way in offering them comfort and further establishing your safe relationship.

If it feels difficult to fit these additional concerns into your therapy sessions, remember that sometimes all it takes is a few kind words to make a parent feel acknowledged.

In the same way that our software application is focused on making your work life easier, our greater mission is focused on the same care you have for making patients’ lives easier.

Despite the distance we must literally maintain between one another, we now have a unique opportunity to grow closer with those who need us most.

Therapy Industry Trends Discussed at ASHA’s 2019 Convention

The TheraPlan team recently attended the 2019 American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) convention in our home city of Orlando, Florida. We always love interacting with therapists and clinic owners like. At this event, there was ample opportunity for us to discuss industry trends with members of the speech therapy community. Along with our partner companies, EEP billing agency, Clinic Connection, and EligiPro, we personally addressed providers’ major worries regarding documentation, billing, and more. Here is a summary of some of the themes we heard.

It was no surprise that several therapy practice owners told us that their biggest challenge is keeping up the flow of their revenue cycle. Dealing with the complications presented by insurance reimbursement can make this feel impossible. Since TheraPlan was founded by therapy billing experts, we fully understand how it feels to spend hours on the phone with insurance companies and to always be frustrated about things like appeals. Industry regulations and commercial insurance requirements seem to be constantly changing, and it can be hard to keep up. This is precisely why we work so closely with EEP billing agency. We know you need experts on your side, and specifically those who specialize in Florida therapy billing. 

In addition to general revenue concerns, many providers approached us with curiosities about how to keep accurate records for specific billing requirements, such as grant programs and Early Intervention treatment. TheraPlan has designed its documentation templates to satisfy the requirements of your local Early Steps programs. You can feel confident that your annual audits will go smoothly when you use TheraPlan’s documentation templates.

Ultimately, the biggest frustration we found amongst ASHA attendees was something that is reflected in many of our interactions with therapy clinic owners every day: a desire to focus on the therapy and patient aspect of the business and spend less time on the admin. We believe you deserve to do so because your practice serves the community in a meaningful way, but also because you became a small business owner in order to experience some of the freedom that implies. In this industry, it can be difficult to leave work behind and have a life of your own, difficult not to spend every moment after hours doing paperwork or trying to make sense of claims, credentialing, etc. 

We know it’s possible to feel you are dedicating yourself to providing the best quality therapy possible while also running an efficient business and keeping it in the black. The detailed nature of TheraPlan’s documentation templates and the convenience of features like the to-do list were our response to real-world clinic owners who came to our booth to discuss their general sense of overwhelm. Our EMR users, who are not limited to the speech therapy discipline, have transformed their practices and we know you can too.

You may want to check out what the EEP billing team encountered at this year’s convention. Missed ASHA and want to chat with us about your own concerns? You can contact us any time. Click here to shoot us an email.

guests taking notes at a therapy conference

How to Make the Most of Your Time at a Therapy Convention

Attending an industry convention can either be incredibly enlightening or a complete waste of time and money. Often, the outcome for an individual has little to do with the convention logistics and everything to do with how you take advantage of what’s there. So how can you make your convention experience worth it?

We have a few suggestions.

Analyze Your Business Needs Before Arriving at the Conference

If you’re a therapy clinic owner, your business is always evolving. It’s easy to get distracted by all of the offerings and information available at an industry event, but the reality is that only some of them will be relevant to you and the trajectory of your business. Thinking about what you need now will help you focus on your priorities as a convention attendee. 

One way to do this is to schedule 30 to 60 minutes about one week prior to the convention to look over your business processes. Think of it as zooming out and reviewing every process that happens in your clinic on a daily basis. Are there any areas that need improvement? If so, do you think this will involve outsourcing, or do you just need advice on how to improve internal systems? Answering these questions prior to being surrounded by experts and salespeople will allow you to clearly recognize what information you are there to gather and who might be able to help you do so.

Prioritize Your Time Using the Vendor List and Schedule

Most conventions will release a full list of exhibitors and presenters ahead of time. Make use of this by highlighting each talk you want to attend and each vendor you want to speak to; then, do some research on each one. 

Spend a few moments following the vendors you’d like to connect with on social media platforms prior to the day of the convention. This way, you’ll get live updates about any events or giveaways that could be money-saving for you. It’s all too common to think a presentation will be relevant to you and then find out after a few minutes that it’s not.

To avoid this dilemma, look into each presenter and the services they offer ahead of time. The same goes for vendors, because it’s quite easy to get distracted in a busy exhibitor hall. If there is a map available, you can even plan out the order in which you’ll visit the vendor booths.

If you think it will be tough to say no to heavy sales pushes in the moment, have a clear priority list in mind: include the services you require and the things you may only want if they’re affordable. Keeping a rough budget in mind for any new business services is also a good idea so you don’t overcommit and regret it later. By the same token, try to avoid being pulled in by “swag” and free offers that you don’t really need.

Ask Questions Before Presentations if Possible

Speakers will be bombarded with questions after a talk. If you’ve researched them ahead of time and read the synopsis of what they’ll be discussing, you should already have an idea of what you’re hoping to hear about. It’s often easier to grab a moment with a presenter in the ballroom or auditorium before their presentation begins.

This enables you to be efficient with your time and get your questions answered in a more natural environment, away from the crowds that gather when a talk ends.

Take Notes in a Format That Works for You

Know how you learn and remember best. Don’t fill a notebook with random details from each talk if you know you’ll never open it when you get back home. Many conventions will allow audio recording, so long as you’re not sharing publicly. It’s also smart to create a master list of resources, such as websites or tools that are suggested throughout the convention, because if you keep these in separate places you may lose or forget about them.

Attending a therapy convention can be a great way to build connections, learn from industry leaders, and scale your business. However, we believe in going in with a plan to get the most value from your investment.

The TheraPlan team will be attending the 2019 ASHA Convention for audiologists and speech-language pathologists in our hometown of Orlando this weekend: November 21-23. We’ll be there with our close business partners: EEP’s therapy billing experts, Clinic Connection’s credentialing team, and EligiPro’s Medicaid eligibility gurus. If you’ll be attending, we’d love to talk to you! Whether you’re a student, therapist, or clinic owner, stop by our exhibit to see how our services and advice could transform your business.