Communication Hacks for Doubling Your Therapy Clinic’s Efficiency

Effective communication is key for any business, but is especially critical in the therapy industry. One small breakdown in communication can have lasting negative effects on your therapy clinic’s billing, scheduling, and treatment processes.

There are different types of communication, all of which must come together in seamless synergy to result in increased efficiency. Read below for the most stress-inducing categories of communication and the associated hacks we’ve learned over decades of working with therapy clinics.

Improve Your Clinic’s Communication with Patients

Since patients are the ones you are serving, they come first on our list. 

It is probably no surprise that the communication you have most often with patients involves appointment scheduling. We live in a busy world, and when the success of your business depends on people remembering their visits, it is beyond helpful to assist them in doing so. 

The best modern hack for avoiding high cancellation rates and minimizing patient frustration is to implement text message reminders. That’s why we’ve built them into TheraPlan.

A related factor many clinic owners fail to focus on is customer service training for therapists. Even when things go wrong, patients are more likely to be understanding if they feel they are heard and important to you. Your therapists are on the front lines of interaction with your community, so we say getting back to the basics of human decency by providing superior customer service is paramount.

Read this post from Clinic Connection for even more about healthy communication with patients.

Maintain Strict Procedures for Communicating with Primary Care Providers

One of the most common challenges we see clinics facing involves reaching out to Primary Care Providers (PCPs).

Remember that even if your clinic has it together, there is no guarantee that other clinics will. No doubt you’ve encountered difficulties with receiving timely responses from a doctor’s office regarding things like getting Plans of Care signed. It can feel like an endless frustration and take a lot of time away from other critical administrative tasks.

The solution is to control what you can control, which in this case is timing! We cannot stress enough the importance of requiring therapists to complete plans of care as early as possible. This begins with scheduling evaluations about 30 days prior to the end of an existing plan of care, which means your therapists need to be trained to pay attention to critical expiration dates.

To make things like plan-of-care tracking even more painless for your clinic, we have integrated quick communication right into our EMR with features like TheraFax. Send critical documents to doctors and insurance companies directly from our web-based application.

Ease the Frustration of Communicating with Insurance Companies

We would echo the great time-saving (and sanity-saving!) hacks in this post by our credentialing partners for the dreaded necessity of working with insurance companies.

Ensure Sound Internal Communication in Your Therapy Clinic

None of the above tips will have a sizable effect if you are not closely managing how well your employees tell each other important details. Standardization is the answer.

For everything from hiring to scheduling to credentialing, your therapists and admins should have no doubt about who to contact, or when and how to do so. This begins with establishing easily understandable procedures from the moment you welcome a new hire onto the team. 

Our quick tip for making sure procedures are implemented? A good old-fashioned Standard Operating Procedure (SOP). The twenty-first century hack version of this is digital! Online document storage systems make it so easy to keep live documents, which track all edits and contributing authors. Keep one document that houses all pertinent rules pertaining to communication. Assign one person to update it regularly, ensure that therapists are notified of any changes immediately, and keep a record of their agreement to said changes.

As the clinic owner, it’s important to remove yourself from the small tasks of day-to-day operations so you can focus on growth. Having an SOP in an easy format, and using an internal messaging system that is not as cumbersome as email, means you don’t need to feel pressured to mediate every small misunderstanding that takes place. Delegation can be scary, but it’s absolutely critical to positive communication.

Ultimately, whether you choose to use a digital document or not, failing to pay attention to how well your employees are talking to one another could result in unnecessary conflict and even significant revenue loss.

TheraPlan Can Help You Audit Your Clinic’s Communication Protocol

We may be a software company, but we consider ourselves communication experts, at least when it comes to our clients. After all, an EMR is built to support the accurate and regular exchange of information. If anyone knows how important clear communication is, it’s our development and support teams! 

Not only do we have 25+ years of working intimately with clinic owners under our belts, but we have built an entire network of Florida therapy experts for you to consult about things like internal and therapist-patient communication.

If you think your clinic could use some obligation-free advice, reach out today!

Using an EMR When Credentialing for Therapists Using CAQH Account

How the Right EMR Can Help Therapists Keep CAQH Accounts Current

If you are a therapy clinic owner, we would venture a guess that you are no stranger to the Council for Affordable Quality Healthcare (CAQH) and what membership means for the continuity of your team’s credentialing experience. It is essentially a central application hub for various insurance credentials, and seems like a no-brainer. Of course, there is also the fact that many insurance companies actually require that all credential submissions happen via CAQH. These choices by the movers and shakers at large insurance companies have certainly made this almost an industry standard in 2020.

Mandating CAQH membership for your entire team can therefore be helpful as you continuously balance rolling expiration dates and bringing on new hires. However, fully implementing clinic policies that support accurate and consistent credentialing is easier said than done. Keeping an up-to-date account that is attested every four months is not light work and needs to be a priority for everyone involved.

Despite the fact that credentialing is technically the responsibility of individual therapists, it ultimately falls on you, the clinic owner. That’s largely because not keeping up with it can present a sizable risk and potential revenue loss for your business. Whether you have admins or you’re managing on your own, it’s overwhelming to keep up with therapist credentialing for CAQH (personal data, current documents, and list of insurances, to name a few items). 

If your office does not already run like a proverbial well-oiled machine, this type of paperwork nightmare could overtake your administrative processes. In our experience overseeing the admin side of countless therapy clinics, many make credentialing more difficult than it needs to be. Like any other small business responsibility, efficiency in this area is very much about standardization. Have a central place (preferably digital and easily accessible) to house all the important data for each person in need of credentials, and you’ll immediately cut down on the time spent searching for correct info.  

No surprise, we highly recommend an EMR for this! As you may have already discovered, though, not all EMRs are created equal.

In the same way that we focused heavily on building user-friendly documentation templates into our software, we also designed TheraPlan to make getting organized for credentialing easier. In each user’s profile within User Maintenance, there is an accordion (section) specifically for keeping credentialing data and uploading a therapist’s pertinent documents and personal data. Here, you will see that it’s possible to add expiration dates for board certifications, which allows our application to work with you in making the process seamless. 

This section is only accessible by you as the owner, and any admin users you specify. Every move inside the system is traceable, so there will never be a question about who made changes to a user’s file. Once you’ve input all the necessary information the first time, the designated person in charge of credentialing for your office can then update it as necessary with just a few clicks. One additional benefit: TheraPlan is web-based, so it’s accessible from any device anywhere. 

Even if you are already a TheraPlan user or have implemented some processes for therapist credentialing with CAQH, you may need some additional guidance to avoid costly mistakes. For this reason, we’ve partnered with the credentialing pros at Clinic Connection and several other companies specializing in Florida therapy to help clinic owners like you. 

We invite you to reach out to us before making any changes to your credentialing processes. Not only can we get you set up with a modern, therapy-specific EMR, but we can connect you with our network of Florida therapy experts.

Therapy Clinic Services in the State of Florida

Why Your Florida-Based Therapy Clinic Needs State-Specific Industry Expertise

Have you ever tried to explain any part of your business to a friend who’s not in the therapy industry? Chances are, they were confused. They don’t understand why you can’t chat because you’re calling insurance companies first thing in the morning, why it takes so much effort to make sure your therapists are compliant with documentation, or why you’re staying up until all hours of the night to finish credentialing paperwork for a new hire. After awhile, you may just stop trying to discuss work at all with anyone outside the office. 

No matter how long your practice has been in business, you understand how complicated this industry can be. With constant changes to documentation and billing requirements, saying it’s a lot to keep up with would be an understatement.

Furthermore, it’s nearly impossible to get the support you need from outside sources because they’re just too general. National industry blogs, videos, and podcasts are great, but they won’t necessarily help you with the everyday tasks of billing, credentialing, HIPAA compliance, and more as a Florida-based clinic. So, you find yourself turning to Facebook groups and other local clinic owners for the detailed advice you need.

Florida Therapy Industry Regulations Are Unique

The biggest reason it’s so hard to find help, or even relatable content, is because therapy is such a state-specific business. The things you are required to consider in the state of Florida could be wildly different from someone who practices therapy in any other state. Then, there’s the matter of diving even deeper into speech, occupational, physical, behavioral, and other therapy disciplines.

Because requirements and the related changes often pertain to specific state-based insurance carriers or Medicaid programs, the advice you seek from outside sources may not always apply. Every state’s regulations are different, and sometimes there are even regional variations in things like early intervention therapy.

You Need More Than One Type of Support for Your Therapy Clinic

You may have had the inclination to outsource some part of your business, but it can be hard to know what is most important. Do you protect your therapists’ time first and pay for an EMR, or is it more important to hire a billing agency to ensure that they get paid quickly? Sometimes, bringing a new company into the mix can sound so overwhelming as a clinic owner that you just conclude it’s best to do it all yourself or with your current admin team. 

Add in the overwhelm of trying to work with a company whose staff is unfamiliar with Florida regulations, and it’s no wonder you’d want to handle the responsibilities alone.

Therapy is a Highly Interpersonal Industry

Yet another factor in your frustration could be the sheer emotional toll it takes to try your hardest to provide a service people genuinely need, while feeling like you’re up against the complex, and sometimes unfair, rules of our bewildering health care system.

We know what this feels like from your perspective and that of your patients. Our founder, Stephen Edwards, got started in the Florida therapy industry due to a personal tragedy, which has given him and our entire team insight into the patient’s view of therapy services. We fully grasp why your job is important to you, and not just as a small business owner concerned about revenue. You deserve to have the exact help you need to continue providing high-quality therapy to your patients.

Look for a Solid Network of Florida Therapy Experts

All of the above leads us to the solution we have created: a network of Florida-based therapy industry experts ready to serve clinics like yours. We’ve seen the inner workings of clinics and home-based practices of all sizes and with every mix of disciplines. Because we understand what it takes to run an efficient and thriving clinic, we’ve built a team of billing, credentialing, and auditing experts, EMR software developers, and Medicaid eligibility pros.

We don’t believe you should have to choose between these services because they’re all essential to your business’s growth. So, we’ve joined forces.

Think of our network of companies like a group of apps that integrate to make your life easier. When you use more than one of our products or services together, you get the benefit of seamless communication amongst a unified team of people who understand your challenges and are all working on your behalf.

Find out how we can make use of all these areas of expertise and create a customized plan together to take your therapy practice to the next level in 2020.

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.


therapy billing agency office

3 Advantages of Using an EMR with Therapy Billing Expertise

If you’ve decided to migrate your therapy clinic’s documentation, scheduling, and other regular tasks to an electronic format, you have no doubt been faced with extensive choices. Server-based or web-based? With documentation templates or without? Therapy-specific or general? And how will it integrate with your billing process?

Yet, some of the most important elements of choosing an EMR are the also the most intangible: the things you wouldn’t think to search for, yet would love to have. Isn’t this true for nearly any company we decide to hire or whose services we want to use? We look for that “wow” factor, but can’t seem to identify what that really means.

While we believe TheraPlan’s software has quite a few astounding features, the truth is that our calling card is not something we can list on a brochure or compare to other EMRs on the market. That’s because it’s about our origins and a unique relationship we have with Edwards Electronic Processing (EEP), an experienced Florida therapy billing agency. 

Why should you care about this as a therapy clinic owner? Here are three reasons that using an EMR with close ties to a therapy billing agency could change the way you do business for the better.

1. You’ll be ahead of the curve when it comes to industry changes.
The therapy world is constantly changing. So many facets of daily clinic operations depend on your location, disciplines, insurance vs. Medicaid mix, and the population you serve. Staying on top of these changes is not just an option, either; it’s an absolute must in order to avoid the potentially expensive consequences of an insurance or state audit. Our goal is to make compliance as easy as possible for your entire team.

Some EMRs won’t be able to keep up with the shifting regulations. However, with TheraPlan you get adaptable software that is built upon policies specific to therapists in Florida. Everything from state Medicaid requirements to Early Steps program guidelines are just everyday office fodder for us. Because we talk to the therapy billing specialists at EEP often and make important changes to TheraPlan with their guidance, our clients can count on having an EMR that reflects what’s happening in the industry at any given time. 

2. Customer service is based on more than just technical support.
Sure, it’s helpful to have technical issues resolved quickly, but that doesn’t cover the scope of what a knowledgeable EMR staff could help you with. Why go to multiple sources to learn how to complete documentation with billing stipulations in mind?

When you call TheraPlan’s support desk, you aren’t just getting in contact with one company’s worth of resources. We often consult with the EEP staff and can direct you to a credible source for anything you need above and beyond how to use our system. While we won’t be advising your therapists on the more complex questions in the moment, we know exactly where to send them for the right answers. In addition, we have numerous video tutorials and PDF guides housed inside our application to help. 

To us and our billing agency partners, customer service is much more than just fixing a quick issue. We believe in providing you and every member of your team with solutions: methods that can carry over to more than one patient, and more than one document.

3. Complicated claims become a lot easier to manage when your EMR is built around the data that insurance companies need.
Whether you have in-house staff taking care of billing or you outsource to EEP or another billing agency, having the most thorough documentation possible makes their job so much easier. With standard claims, all the required data for an evaluation, re-evaluation or a treatment, is readily available and in a logical place. Appeals or follow-up phone calls are simple when you can log in to TheraPlan (from anywhere, any time) and verify demographic details and more.

We take pride in the strength of our business relationships. In addition to being in close partnership with EEP, we have other industry professionals, such as the credentialing experts at Clinic Connection, on hand as resources for all our clients. We’re confident you’ll benefit from these ties as a TheraPlan user. Instead of getting one specialized service, you’re connecting to a network of companies that serve the various needs of therapy clinics.

If you want to know more about how our software is developed with ongoing input from EEP’s 25 years of billing experience, schedule a demo. You’ll get a private tour of TheraPlan’s unique features and how they can make your practice more efficient.


Therapy clinic admin staff

How to Find and Keep Reliable Administrative Staff for Your Therapy Practice

Finding reliable help for your therapy clinic may feel impossible. If you’ve experienced a high turnover rate with administrative staff, you’re not alone. In our experience, this is an unfortunate, yet common issue facing therapy clinics, regardless of size. However, all is not lost. With a bit of careful planning and straightforward hiring protocol, you can make solid connections and create a team of loyal, long-term employees.

Hire Admins Who Know Therapy

No matter the discipline, working in a therapy office can be more complex than some might expect. If you’re hiring people who are familiar with other segments of health care, you should expect that they may not be prepared to work in the therapy world. Other types of medical offices are likely to have had quite different procedures and clientele. 

On the other hand, if you’ve been hiring admins, coders, or billers who do claim to have previously worked in a therapy office, it’s best not to assume they’ll jump right in with no help. After all, your practice and systems are unique.

Observe an Applicant’s Demeanor

Regardless of background, we recommend testing out how potential applicants interact with everyone else in your office. How do they take direction? Are they engaged and asking questions? Do they seem to fit right in with your company culture? 

There will be nuances involved in how front desk staff interact with patients, particularly if you serve a special needs community. If the applicant is not warm and cordial with therapists or other colleagues, it’s a red flag that they may not be likely to treat patients with the level of care you expect.

In addition, tread carefully if someone other than you is making the final decision to hire someone new. What’s been their track record of new hire selection? If you feel you have a better sense of whom to bring on board, you should make sure to set up second interviews or at least meet the applicants prior to approving any staff member’s decision. In a nutshell, trust your gut as the clinic owner!

Offer Dedicated Training for In-House Staff

Once you’ve decided to bring someone onto your team, we highly suggest requiring at least two weeks of dedicated training. This can be tough if you don’t have the luxury of turnaround time, but the inconvenience of being short-staffed for a while has fewer consequences than throwing a novice into a job they’re not prepared for. You’ll be glad you spent the time and money to train new staff instead of making up for potentially serious mistakes later. All administrative staff will learn more about the industry over time, but the basics are essential from day one so they feel comfortable with their basic knowledge. 

At TheraPlan, we’ve worked with many an admin team, so we have a good idea of what’s usually missing from their knowledge base. As a result, we recommend including the following components in your training program, at a minimum: 

  • Definitions of common terms (co-pay, co-insurance, deductible)
  • New patient intake process at your clinic
  • Commercial insurance 101
  • Medicaid and Medicare overview (if necessary)
  • CPT codes for relevant disciplines
  • HIPAA compliance for admins 
  • Your clinic-specific processes

The Effects of Hiring Wisely

Once you’ve implemented the hiring practices above, you’ll start to see the positive effects on every other area of your practice. Thorough screening of applicants and effective training result in fewer worries about HIPAA compliance, a more efficient credentialing process, and less risk for your business overall. 

Need to consult with an expert about how to hire more quality help for your therapy practice? Along with our experienced partner billing agency, we offer consulting for clinics of all sizes. Contact us today.


6 Hidden Benefits of Using a Web-Based EMR

6 Hidden Benefits of Using a Web-Based EMR

At TheraPlan, we believe in building electronic solutions for every therapy clinic’s needs. One of the primary ways to take your clinic from disorganization to efficiency is to use an EMR. More specifically, a web-based EMR is ideal for many reasons. Getting away from paper-based records in general is a smart idea in our opinion, but we know that not all EMRs are created equal.

You may already realize the more obvious arguments for accessing your documentation, schedule, payroll, and more from any device via a web browser. It can be incredibly convenient, more secure than facility-based storage, and simple to communicate with colleagues. 

However, there are also unexpected advantages to adopting a web-based system over server-based software. Our team has compiled six benefits you may not have thought of: 

  1. Implementation costs can be significantly reduced. Instead of having to worry about upgrading your computers and network or installing an on-site server, you can transition to a web-based EMR quickly and at relatively low cost. As long as you and your team have browsers and a secure internet connection, you’ll be able to onboard to electronic records without much hassle. This is especially advantageous for any home-based therapists, since they won’t have to carry around any new hardware when they’re out in the field.
  2. The ability to pull reports for billing saves you and your admin team time. Most EMRs have report functionality, and having reports accessible online for billing purposes can drastically increase efficiency in your therapy practice. If you take care of billing in-house, your staff will be able to simply log in to your EMR from any device and pull updated reports or export new ones whenever necessary. Billing agencies, like our partner company, also love the convenience of web-based records. When they need details about a treatment or evaluation, or even demographic data for a patient, the agency staff won’t need to call your office. You can simply provide them with secure login credentials for your chosen EMR so they can perform this research themselves. Without the wait time required for back-and-forth communication, you’ll likely notice that the average length of time in which your claims are processed or appealed will shorten. 
  3. It’s possible to keep an up-to-date live waiting list as your practice grows. Some EMRs, such as TheraPlan, allow patients to be placed in categories such as inactive, active, or pending. This is much more useful than a paper waiting list, as every person who views your patient list will know the current status of each patient. Not only does this lessen the frustration of remembering to update a physical list, but can facilitate quick communication with patients who inquire about when they’ll be able to schedule an appointment.
  4. Holding your staff accountable is easy with accurate, accessible records available any time, anywhere. When you can track minute-by-minute edits on documents and see time-stamped signatures, there is no question as to who did what and when. Although oversight may not be your favorite task as a clinic owner, it’s sometimes necessary to review a specific record. On a daily basis, you can also use the history feature of a web-based EMR to see how quickly your therapists are completing documentation. Whether you use it to hold staff to company policies or decide when caseloads have reached an overwhelming level, this data is crucial for business growth.
  5. Standardizing technology across your clinic will no longer be an issue. Since backups and updates are taken care of, your providers can simply use whatever hardware they prefer, as long as it allows access to an internet browser. While you can still recommend certain hardware, you could completely avoid the expense of providing it for all your therapists. This is a huge money-saving benefit. 
  6. You’ll receive outside user tutorials and technical support at the click of a button. The best EMRs will predict the problems or confusion users could experience and provide resources to help. Within TheraPlan, video tutorials and PDF guides are found in our Help & Forms section. We also have a help desk manned with technical support specialists five days a week. We believe this reduces the amount of technical questions your admin staff will receive, thus allowing them to spend their time on other important tasks.

TheraPlan is your source for all info relevant to your therapy practice: patients, treatments, credentials, and more from anywhere you want to access it. Sign up for a demo today to experience both the obvious and not-so-obvious benefits of web-based technology in your clinic.

How to Set Up Internal Audit Procedures to Maintain Your Therapy Clinic’s Compliance

Following legal guidelines is an essential part of running any type of business, but is especially crucial in the therapy field. Though therapy clinic regulations may not be as intense as those for traditional medical specialties, maintaining compliance can still be quite complex. In fact, this is one of the most intimidating factors of starting a therapy clinic, and can be the downfall of a fully operational clinic if audit procedures are not in place.

Since our EMR was built specifically to make it easy for users to comply with HIPAA and Florida CMS guidelines, we understand the ins and outs of audit-proofing your clinic’s protocol and documentation.

To begin establishing internal audit procedures, you’ll first need to thoroughly understand the components of compliance as they relate to therapy clinics. These can vary depending upon the mix of insurance coverage amongst your patients (i.e. the portion of Medicaid patients vs. commercial carrier patients you see). However, some components are true across the board. Here are five key ideas to keep in mind:

  1. Medical necessity. This is an element that many in the therapy world omit from the compliance conversation. However, it’s essential that your documentation reflects the honorable nature of any treatment your therapists provide to patients. According to CMS.gov, including a statement asserting that the therapist believes treatment is medically necessary “supports approval” of a Medicaid or Medicare claim. Therefore, if your office treats patients covered by either public health insurance program, we suggest requiring the medical necessity statement on all documentation that leaves your practice. In our 25+ years of experience with medical billing, we’ve discovered the importance of this verification for the efficiency of approvals, payments, and ultimately, for your patients’ continuity of care. That’s why we’ve included medical necessity checkboxes on all our therapy documentation templates.
  2. Signature and documentation requirements. Hand in hand with the above recommendation, CMS requires that all treatment notes and evaluations be completed and signed within 48 hours of the therapy session. This is both to ensure that the therapist hasn’t forgotten what transpired and can accurately document a patient’s progress, but also for the security of the patient’s records. The time frame of completion is difficult to regulate using paper documentation. With an EMR that locks and time stamps each document, though, any audit personnel will have assurance that you have complied with this rule.
  3. HIPAA. As you should already know, HIPAA is perhaps the most important factor in compliance, as it has been federal law since 1996. Especially if your clinic is growing, it’s imperative to create a mandatory HIPAA training protocol for each new hire. Asking them to sign a statement that they understand HIPAA law does not protect you from potential loss in the event of a violation, no matter how unintentional. It’s a heavy responsibility to ensure that your therapists and admin staff fully comprehend the intricacies of HIPAA and how to comply with everyday office procedures. Yet, it’s absolutely worth your time and effort to close any holes in knowledge that could jeopardize your practice altogether.
  4. Coding and billing. Two of the most significant components in compliance involve the way you keep your business afloat: by submitting and getting paid for the therapy treatments you’ve provided. Thorough documentation is fundamental to a smooth billing process, as are precise units of time. Next is accurate coding. If you rely upon your staff to code treatments in-house, it’s wise to make sure that at least two pairs of eyes fall upon each outgoing evaluation or SOAP note. Completing this manually can increase the room for error, however. When you use TheraPlan, it’s easy for each user to see which CPT codes they’ve filled in on the patient’s most recent document and use a pre-filled dropdown to select the correct code for their specialty. Whether you complete billing yourself or outsource it to an experienced agency, honest and timely billing processes also fall under the umbrella of compliance. 
  5. Miscellaneous administrative factors. These include secure communication with patients, confidentiality, and fair hiring practices. The details may vary based on your practice size and the number of staff you have available to help, but prioritizing organization in all facets of your clinic operations is a good place to start.

If you’ve integrated all of the above factors into your clinic’s procedures, the next step is being able to prove it. In the event of an audit, you’ll most likely be questioned about your protocol for communicating and maintaining compliance in your clinic. Keeping a record of the way you and your staff address each and every requirement can seem overwhelming, but it’s simply a matter of creating a system. Much like you have created a system for payroll, accounting, and other elements of business ownership, this is truly no different. 

As a tech company, we believe in electronic management of internal compliance efforts. Whether you use shared online spreadsheets that track each person’s access and changes or an EMR like TheraPlan, which automatically records each user’s actions within the software, you should find a method you’re comfortable with to track every person who has interacted with documentation and patient records. That way, there’s no doubt as to what has happened in the event of an audit or alleged HIPAA violation. 

Ultimately, compliance is about integrity. Keeping in mind what’s fair and required for all parties, regardless of the amount of effort involved, will protect you in the event of an audit.

Check out TheraPlan’s security-focused software to discover the ways our EMR can simplify this process for you and your staff. 

*Disclaimer: We do not recommend using this blog as your only source of information regarding compliance. Please thoroughly research the regulations that apply to your state and range of specialties prior to preparing your clinic for future audits.

Theraplan note

Therapist Life: The Importance of Keeping an Open Line of Communication with Your Clinic’s Admin Team

When you got your first job as a therapist, you may have realized there’s a lot more to the role than just seeing patients. Sure, your impact on those in need of therapy may be the most important part, but there are lots of other moving pieces that make a clinic run well. A lot of that depends on you! From completing documentation thoroughly and on time to managing a packed schedule, you do much more than interact with patients.

In our opinion, the most critical element of efficiency in a therapy clinic is communication: between therapists and patients, but more importantly, between therapists and administrative staff. Your position in this communication equation is critical. At TheraPlan, we’re all about making your job easy and efficient. Having watched clinics of all sizes deal with internal confusion and conflict over the years, we’ve come up with a few suggestions to avoid such roadblocks. 

We highly recommend you build a solid relationship with your clinic’s admin staff, whether you work in the clinic every day or you’re a home-based therapist who just calls in for specific requests now and then. Here are a few reminders about the significance of the professional connection you have with your admins:

  • Admins are often the ones who follow up on billing claims and ensuring that you get paid! Your income is dependent upon the speed and accuracy with which claims are submitted and tracked. If admins are responsible for this, you’ll want to ensure that you keep an open line of communication with them and do your part to make this as easy as possible for them. 
  • They can act as patient liaisons for important tasks like scheduling. Seemingly simple tasks, like getting patients to confirm or commit to appointment times, can feel the most overwhelming. If your week is packed and you can’t seem to find time to reach out to patients you need to hear from, why not enlist the help of your admin team? Depending on your clinic’s protocol for scheduling, this could be a great way to ease your daily workload.
  • In order for all of the above to be possible, you should set the tone for communication early on. We suggest doing this in the following ways:
    • Answer emails and provide them with anything they request (i.e. credentialing requirements) ASAP. Remember: admins are the link between you and your clinic owner! Having a ‘paper trail’ is important if you ever encounter a miscommunication.
    • Give them plenty of notice when you need a favor. Your front desk staff is likely swamped, so it may be unreasonable to expect they can provide a quick turnaround.
    • Ask questions so as not to appear demanding. Everyone likes to feel they are being helpful. So presenting your needs as a question can be a great tool. For example, saying “I’m having trouble verifying this patient’s insurance. Would you be able to help me?” is better than “I need you to verify this patient’s insurance for me.” If you don’t know your admins on a personal level, this is all the more important. 
    • Use TheraPlan’s message center for quick communication about patient arrivals, rescheduled appointments, paperwork needs, and more. We believe in straightforward and simple communication so much that we built it into our EMR. Instead of having to send internal email for every little thing, you can stay inside our application and just shoot a message to a fellow user. They’ll get a notification no matter where they are working inside TheraPlan, or upon logging in the next time.

Every professional environment can benefit from conscientious communication, but especially a therapy clinic. Due to the nature of your work, it’s possible to go days without seeing your colleagues face-to-face or spending significant time with them. Being proactive using the above tips can help set a precedent for other therapists and show your admin team that you appreciate all they do to make your job possible. 

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