How to Handle Notes and Billing in Your New Private Practice
We know. You are busy making a hundred decisions in your journey to begin your own mental health private practice. You’re almost ready to make the jump, but need to learn how to handle the business side of your new practice. Two main aspects to make it run smoothly will be maintaining an effective notes routine and having an effective billing system in place. Keep reading to learn your options.
As you are working on your mental health private practice business plan, you will come to the decision of how to keep up with notes. Now that you are starting your business, you have total choice over what method you would like to use. There is no way around spending time on note-writing after sessions, but it is important to consider which method will help you to be as efficient as possible so you are spending your time the way you want. Here are three of the main note taking options:
Pen and Paper
To some, this may seem a somewhat archaic choice. Writing each and every progress note by hand takes ample energy as well as storage space. Yet some mental health providers wouldn’t have it any other way. From some, writing notes by hand helps the information stick in their memory so they are familiarized with each client and their needs.
On the downside, mental health therapists who choose this route are at risk of falling behind on their notes. This can lead to excess stress and decreased efficiency.
Using a digital writing program like Microsoft Word is another common option used by mental health professionals. Many can type faster than they write and having these files stored electronically eliminates the need to track and store papers.
However, typing notes out each time is still fairly time-consuming. There is also the unfortunate case where your computer may crash. If these documents are not backed up on another computer or hard drive, they may be totally gone. Keep in mind that having them stored in the traditional cloud is not considered to be HIPAA compliant.
Electronic Health Records are quickly taking over the note-taking landscape. With these, you can create a psychotherapy progress note form that simplifies the way you take notes. By checking a few boxes in your template, you can save a lot of time. There is also a “clone note” feature, which allows you to copy the note from the previous session. This way you can make a few quick edits to update it for the current session.
Many EHR Systems charge a subscription fee, but some (like Luminello) offer a great plan for free, with upgraded plans with additional features offered for reasonable rates. You can use the standard therapy progress notes sample of the free plan and know your notes are safe, stored in a HIPAA compliant cloud and ready to go for your next session.
Billing software for mental health professionals is an important and tricky decision because sending out invoices via email is not HIPAA compliant. This leaves three main options:
The traditional way of collecting payment for services In private practice was mailing clients their bills. This method involves a process of printing the bill, paying for postage, stuffing envelopes and hoping you receive payment.
Accepting payment at the end of each session ensures you receive your earned payment. This way can be uncomfortable, though. If you’ve just finished an emotionally charged session with your client, transitioning to ask them to hand you their card can be rocky.
Many Electronic Health Record Systems include billing in their features. Credit cards can be saved in the charts, allowing you to charge clients with the click on a button while writing notes. Some of these systems also allow you to submit insurance claims electronically in the same way. This method eliminates the step of filling out so many forms to comply with regulations. It’s included for you in the EHR System.
Based on these options, what methods do you think will suit your new mental health private practice? Let us know or contact Luminello’s support team to learn if their EHR System is right for you.