Practice Management System and Portal for Mental Health Professionals and their Clients

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Blog2020-03-17T08:39:46-04:00

Articles on Topics You Need

Integrated Products for Mental Health: Save Time, Money, Errors

Mental health therapists are beginning to talk about wanting “integrated products” to help manage their practice tasks. But what do they mean by “integrated product?” More importantly, if you wanted to look at some, how would you go about finding them? Googling “integrated product” isn’t likely to produce the results you want.

One of the problems is that these types of products go by more than one name, which may be why people have begun referring to them as “integrated products.” Common names are Electronic Health Record (EHR), Electronic Medical Record (EMR) or Practice Management System. To complicate matters, just being called one of those titles doesn’t automatically mean the product is well-integrated.

June 3rd, 2021|

All Patient Notes in ONE Place – You Don’t Have to Go Looking

Recently, a top journal in the field of Electronic Health Record (EHR) development posted this quote from an anonymous doctor who was dissatisfied with his EHR:

“I firmly believe this EHR makes important information difficult to find and interpret, and it is very inefficient.” He went on to say, “It creates superfluous and difficult-to-navigate notes and information that are not centralized. That makes it easy for care providers to disregard notes, and they often do. That affects patient safety. . . . It is difficult and arduous to document in the EHR, and providers’ efforts to do so still yield subpar results with erroneous, irrelevant information.”

This doctor is pointing out a very real problem inherent in some EHRs. However, he was referring to one of the "ONC Certified" EHRs which we've discussed previously. Those types of EHRS are inherently much more difficult to use than most EHRs that have been specifically created for the mental health professions, such as PSYBooks.

April 29th, 2021|

Does the Open Notes Rule Apply to Me?

The term "Open Notes Rule" is a popular term coined to depict the legislation enacted by the 21st Century Cures Act that is more accurately referred to as the ONC's final program rule on Interoperability, Information Blocking, and ONC Health IT Certification (OpenNotes, 2020). It is a continuation of the legislation originally enacted as part of the HITECH act of 2009 to promote EHR interoperability (with the ultimate goal being a national database for healthcare information on all U.S. Citizens) and open access to records. The Open Notes Rule does NOT apply to PSYBooks users but there are some important things to understand about the current iteration of this legislation, partly in an attempt to help prepare us for what might be coming in the future.

February 18th, 2021|

Why Do People Hate Electronic Health Records (EHRs)?

Actually, most patients don't. A recent study conducted by Catalyst Healthcare Research found that 93% of adults would prefer to go to a doctor that offers email communication, even if there was a $25 fee (Pai, 2014). Encrypted email is incorporated into most, if not all present-day EHRs that also have patient portals. By being integrated with the entire medical record, it's relatively easy for doctors to correspond with patients right from their electronic chart. Leaders in prominent health care groups in Houston, encouraged patient enrollment in their EHR system and have found similar results. Dr. Robert Dickinson, Kelsey-Seybold's medical director for executive health and wellness says, "They think it's the coolest thing they've ever seen. It's like online banking. People love this kind of access. Before, it was kind of mysterious" (Hines, 2014).

However, when you ask doctors if they like EHRs, you often get an entirely different story. You mostly hear dislike, frustration and irritability. There are actually excellent reasons for this.

February 17th, 2021|

More Than a Three-Room House

Imagine a two-room house whose occupants have outgrown it. They decide to solve the dilemma by tacking another room on the back. Great! The siding doesn't quite match - nor does the roof. Some of the existing old-growth trees had to be felled to make the new room fit, and when you're inside, you have to remember to step down and duck a bit as you enter the new room. But hey! The owners still have that extra room! If they decide to put their home on the market, they can advertise it as having three rooms.

Unfortunately, some EHRs are built like this.

April 9th, 2020|

Why Get an Integrated Product?

As a therapist, you can amass your digital tools one at a time or you can invest in a well-integrated bundled product. For example, let's say right now you're mostly looking for a video platform so you can do telehealth. There are companies that ONLY offer subscriptions to video platforms. But is that the best choice?

Depends.

For example, what happens if, after you sign up for your standalone video product, you realize that you also need a way to collect your fees from your telehealth clients. And maybe you need encrypted email so you can contact people in a way that's secure. Or maybe now you need HIPAA-compliant file storage, as your clients begin to send you documents via their new encrypted email. Or perhaps a way to schedule clients online. Or maybe a way to efile and also to send statements and receipts digitally. That's a LOT of tools and we're just getting started!

March 22nd, 2020|
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Doing Telehealth? You Need a Portal.

Think you're not doing telehealth? Think again. Although there's no one-size-fits-all definition that cuts across state and/or discipline lines, most agree that telehealth basically involves any electronic method you use to communicate with or about your clients. This can include common things like phones, email and electronic file storage, in addition to video sessions, which is what we typically think of with the term telehealth.

July 27th, 2017|

Are We Becoming Outdated?

In the not too distant past, a therapist with some kind of note pad in hand was the norm. It was expected. We were doing our jobs and interested enough in the client to take notes on what they were saying. I was part of that crowd. Although I preferred to write my notes after the client left, I definitely felt that paper notes were the way to go and I burned through many legal pads in the early years of my career.

July 15th, 2017|

Encrypted Email:
Your Role in Keeping it Safe

Some people like to point out that encrypted email isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. “After all,” they warn, “as soon as someone has access to your username and password, it no longer matters whether your email is encrypted or not.” Well . . . yes. That’s an accurate statement. However, to use that line of reasoning would be like telling us not to bother locking our homes or cars. After all, as soon as someone gets access to your keys, those locks become useless.

October 23rd, 2016|

Encrypted Email – Just How Safe Is It?

PSYBooks’ email not only meets but actually surpasses the HIPAA specifications for encrypted email. HIPAA’s rules for email encryption are broad, giving developers the maximum amount of freedom. This is as it should be. Those who are responsible for writing and maintaining HIPAA/HITECH laws cannot also be expected to keep up with rapid changes in the world of technology the way developers do. Therefore, although HIPAA wisely states that email containing client PHI (Protected Health Information) should be encrypted, it doesn’t specify exactly how that should be done.

October 16th, 2016|

Introduction to the PSYBooks Portal

The portal is the web-based interface between you and your clients. In a sense, it allows your clients (or anyone else you designate) to have their own “mini” version of PSYBooks that contains just their own data – no one else’s. You can view data they enter on your side and interact with the client about their data, all through the portal.

July 19th, 2016|

Why Do People Hate Electronic Health Records (EHRs)?

Actually, most patients don't. A recent study conducted by Catalyst Healthcare Research found that 93% of adults would prefer to go to a doctor that offers email communication, even if there was a $25 fee (Pai, 2014). Encrypted email is incorporated into most, if not all present-day EHRs that also have patient portals. By being integrated with the entire medical record, it's relatively easy for doctors to correspond with patients right from their electronic chart. Leaders in prominent health care groups in Houston, encouraged patient enrollment in their EHR system and have found similar results. Dr. Robert Dickinson, Kelsey-Seybold's medical director for executive health and wellness says, "They think it's the coolest thing they've ever seen. It's like online banking. People love this kind of access. Before, it was kind of mysterious" (Hines, 2014).

However, when you ask doctors if they like EHRs, you often get an entirely different story. You mostly hear dislike, frustration and irritability. There are actually excellent reasons for this.

February 17th, 2021|

World’s Easiest Efile: Just Save the Session

Efiling is a 2-step process:

  • Tell us which insurance company your client has (you only have to do this once)
  • After that, each time you add a session, PSYBooks automatically efiles the information to the client’s insurance company unless you tell us not to
That’s it. It really couldn’t be easier. And, in fact, even telling us which insurance your client has is pretty easy because you just select the insurance company from a list and then enter your client’s ID on the Add Client Insurance form:

June 15th, 2014|

Managing ERAs with PSYBooks

When you sign up to receive ERAs in PSYBooks, allocating the data to your client charts is easy. When we receive ERAs, we parse them for you. That means that by the time you see them, we already have the client’s name filled in and the correct amount entered in each of the fields (session date, amount allowed, deductible, amount paid, etc.). The screenshot below shows you what an ERA you receive might look like when we deliver it to you:

June 15th, 2014|

Round it Off with an EFT

EFT, which stands for electronic funds transfer, is the third “E” in “Efile, ERA and EFT”. Once you’ve signed up for EFTs with an insurance company, they will deposit the payments they send you directly into your bank. Since EFTs only involve the transfer of money, PSYBooks isn’t actively involved. However, whether or not you want to go the EFT route instead of receiving paper checks, you may want to sign up for ERAs, which are the electronic equivalent of EOBs. Receiving ERAs in PSYBooks means that you no longer have to enter insurance payments by hand. You just have to look over the ERA to see if it seems correct and click Save.

June 1st, 2014|

Why Get an Integrated Product?

As a therapist, you can amass your digital tools one at a time or you can invest in a well-integrated bundled product. For example, let's say right now you're mostly looking for a video platform so you can do telehealth. There are companies that ONLY offer subscriptions to video platforms. But is that the best choice?

Depends.

For example, what happens if, after you sign up for your standalone video product, you realize that you also need a way to collect your fees from your telehealth clients. And maybe you need encrypted email so you can contact people in a way that's secure. Or maybe now you need HIPAA-compliant file storage, as your clients begin to send you documents via their new encrypted email. Or perhaps a way to schedule clients online. Or maybe a way to efile and also to send statements and receipts digitally. That's a LOT of tools and we're just getting started!

March 22nd, 2020|

What Will Happen to Your Clients?

Most of us have documents like a will, power of attorney and other estate planning instruments either already in place or at least on our “I’ll get to that eventually” list. Far fewer have given much thought to how we would want our clients to be taken care of in the case of our demise or anything else that would cause a sudden interruption in our ability to provide services.

June 16th, 2017|

Encrypted Email:
Your Role in Keeping it Safe

Some people like to point out that encrypted email isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. “After all,” they warn, “as soon as someone has access to your username and password, it no longer matters whether your email is encrypted or not.” Well . . . yes. That’s an accurate statement. However, to use that line of reasoning would be like telling us not to bother locking our homes or cars. After all, as soon as someone gets access to your keys, those locks become useless.

October 23rd, 2016|

Encrypted Email – Just How Safe Is It?

PSYBooks’ email not only meets but actually surpasses the HIPAA specifications for encrypted email. HIPAA’s rules for email encryption are broad, giving developers the maximum amount of freedom. This is as it should be. Those who are responsible for writing and maintaining HIPAA/HITECH laws cannot also be expected to keep up with rapid changes in the world of technology the way developers do. Therefore, although HIPAA wisely states that email containing client PHI (Protected Health Information) should be encrypted, it doesn’t specify exactly how that should be done.

October 16th, 2016|

Are Digital Records Better Than Paper?

At it’s simplest, digital record-keeping could simply mean a Word doc, Excel sheet or PDF that you’ve saved on your computer, tablet, phone, thumb drive or other type of digital storage device. There are advantages to digital record-keeping even at this elementary level. For example, with digital records, you no longer have to contend with bulging filing cabinets, finding adequate long-term storage, or shredding – all of which are factors with paper health records. Additionally, it’s relatively easy to make backup copies of digital files to guard against some type of disaster, whereas making copies of paper records is costly, both in terms of time and money and also, effectively doubles the number of filing cabinets or other physical storage space you need.

October 28th, 2015|

Types of EHRs: The Shared Chart Model

At it’s simplest, digital record-keeping could simply mean a Word doc, Excel sheet or PDF that you’ve saved on your computer, tablet, phone, thumb drive or other type of digital storage device. There are advantages to digital record-keeping even at this elementary level. For example, with digital records, you no longer have to contend with bulging filing cabinets, finding adequate long-term storage, or shredding – all of which are factors with paper health records. Additionally, it’s relatively easy to make backup copies of digital files to guard against some type of disaster, whereas making copies of paper records is costly, both in terms of time and money and also, effectively doubles the number of filing cabinets or other physical storage space you need.

October 28th, 2015|
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Doing Telehealth? You Need a Portal.

Think you're not doing telehealth? Think again. Although there's no one-size-fits-all definition that cuts across state and/or discipline lines, most agree that telehealth basically involves any electronic method you use to communicate with or about your clients. This can include common things like phones, email and electronic file storage, in addition to video sessions, which is what we typically think of with the term telehealth.

July 27th, 2017|

Business Associate Agreements:
Do We Really Need Them?

I sometimes hear therapists mention specific software programs they’re using in their practices for tasks like notes, calendar/schedulers, online file storage, billing, video sessions or email and then add something like, “They’re HIPAA compliant. They just don’t – you know – have Business Associate Agreements.”

July 24th, 2017|

HIPAA/HITECH

There are no HIPAA compliant products or services, because by definition, only HIPAA covered entities (e.g., you) and business associates (e.g., PSYBooks) can be compliant. In other words, it’s not a product or service that’s compliant, it’s how you, as a covered entity, or we, as a business associate, write and implement our policies and procedures to utilize those products.

June 29th, 2014|

Your Personal File Storage

In addition to being able to store files for each client, you can also upload and store your own digital records in an area set aside just for you. It’s important to note that files are maintained separately. Client files are stored in their charts – separate from all other clients and also separate from your personal files. This is one of the ways PSYBooks adheres to HIPAA/HITECH guidelines.

June 29th, 2014|

File Storage for Each Client

Each of your charts in PSYBooks has a Files tab where you can upload files specifically to that client’s chart. For example, initially you might want to upload scanned copies of their intake forms, insurance cards and/or driver’s license. Later on, you may want to upload copies of releases and consents, EOBs, reports or testing results. If you want, you can also keep copies of routine things you generate such as statements, insurance claims or receipts. Should your client request a PHI report, you can also upload that to their chart so you’ll have a record of what you gave them. There are several advantage to storing these kinds of documents in PSYBooks:

June 29th, 2014|

User Accounts

User Accounts can be established for anyone you need to grant access to some or all of your PSYBooks records. For example, you might want to create User Accounts for billing personnel, scheduling personnel, supervisees or a colleague who is covering for you. You can allow the user to access the records of all of your clients or just certain ones.

June 22nd, 2014|
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Integrated Products for Mental Health: Save Time, Money, Errors

Mental health therapists are beginning to talk about wanting “integrated products” to help manage their practice tasks. But what do they mean by “integrated product?” More importantly, if you wanted to look at some, how would you go about finding them? Googling “integrated product” isn’t likely to produce the results you want.

One of the problems is that these types of products go by more than one name, which may be why people have begun referring to them as “integrated products.” Common names are Electronic Health Record (EHR), Electronic Medical Record (EMR) or Practice Management System. To complicate matters, just being called one of those titles doesn’t automatically mean the product is well-integrated.

June 3rd, 2021|

All Patient Notes in ONE Place – You Don’t Have to Go Looking

Recently, a top journal in the field of Electronic Health Record (EHR) development posted this quote from an anonymous doctor who was dissatisfied with his EHR:

“I firmly believe this EHR makes important information difficult to find and interpret, and it is very inefficient.” He went on to say, “It creates superfluous and difficult-to-navigate notes and information that are not centralized. That makes it easy for care providers to disregard notes, and they often do. That affects patient safety. . . . It is difficult and arduous to document in the EHR, and providers’ efforts to do so still yield subpar results with erroneous, irrelevant information.”

This doctor is pointing out a very real problem inherent in some EHRs. However, he was referring to one of the "ONC Certified" EHRs which we've discussed previously. Those types of EHRS are inherently much more difficult to use than most EHRs that have been specifically created for the mental health professions, such as PSYBooks.

April 29th, 2021|

Why Do People Hate Electronic Health Records (EHRs)?

Actually, most patients don't. A recent study conducted by Catalyst Healthcare Research found that 93% of adults would prefer to go to a doctor that offers email communication, even if there was a $25 fee (Pai, 2014). Encrypted email is incorporated into most, if not all present-day EHRs that also have patient portals. By being integrated with the entire medical record, it's relatively easy for doctors to correspond with patients right from their electronic chart. Leaders in prominent health care groups in Houston, encouraged patient enrollment in their EHR system and have found similar results. Dr. Robert Dickinson, Kelsey-Seybold's medical director for executive health and wellness says, "They think it's the coolest thing they've ever seen. It's like online banking. People love this kind of access. Before, it was kind of mysterious" (Hines, 2014).

However, when you ask doctors if they like EHRs, you often get an entirely different story. You mostly hear dislike, frustration and irritability. There are actually excellent reasons for this.

February 17th, 2021|

Doing Telehealth? You Need a Portal.

Think you're not doing telehealth? Think again. Although there's no one-size-fits-all definition that cuts across state and/or discipline lines, most agree that telehealth basically involves any electronic method you use to communicate with or about your clients. This can include common things like phones, email and electronic file storage, in addition to video sessions, which is what we typically think of with the term telehealth.

July 27th, 2017|

Business Associate Agreements:
Do We Really Need Them?

I sometimes hear therapists mention specific software programs they’re using in their practices for tasks like notes, calendar/schedulers, online file storage, billing, video sessions or email and then add something like, “They’re HIPAA compliant. They just don’t – you know – have Business Associate Agreements.”

July 24th, 2017|

Types of EHRs: Introduction

Let’s face it. There are LOTS of EHRs on the market and most of us simply don’t have the time, energy, or frankly – interest – to put a lot of effort into researching them. Some therapists have told me that although they’d sort of like to explore EHRs, they begin looking at all the options, get overwhelmed, and decide to put the whole thing off. Although it doesn’t have to be overwhelming, it IS an important decision. An EHR that’s designed well, with attention paid to usability issues so it’s easy to use, can simplify your life enormously and save you a lot of time and money. On the other hand, an EHR that’s poorly designed will have you pulling your hair out and cursing EHRs in general – possibly not realizing that not all EHRs are the same and that there might be better options.

November 1st, 2015|
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All Patient Notes in ONE Place – You Don’t Have to Go Looking

Recently, a top journal in the field of Electronic Health Record (EHR) development posted this quote from an anonymous doctor who was dissatisfied with his EHR:

“I firmly believe this EHR makes important information difficult to find and interpret, and it is very inefficient.” He went on to say, “It creates superfluous and difficult-to-navigate notes and information that are not centralized. That makes it easy for care providers to disregard notes, and they often do. That affects patient safety. . . . It is difficult and arduous to document in the EHR, and providers’ efforts to do so still yield subpar results with erroneous, irrelevant information.”

This doctor is pointing out a very real problem inherent in some EHRs. However, he was referring to one of the "ONC Certified" EHRs which we've discussed previously. Those types of EHRS are inherently much more difficult to use than most EHRs that have been specifically created for the mental health professions, such as PSYBooks.

April 29th, 2021|

Does the Open Notes Rule Apply to Me?

The term "Open Notes Rule" is a popular term coined to depict the legislation enacted by the 21st Century Cures Act that is more accurately referred to as the ONC's final program rule on Interoperability, Information Blocking, and ONC Health IT Certification (OpenNotes, 2020). It is a continuation of the legislation originally enacted as part of the HITECH act of 2009 to promote EHR interoperability (with the ultimate goal being a national database for healthcare information on all U.S. Citizens) and open access to records. The Open Notes Rule does NOT apply to PSYBooks users but there are some important things to understand about the current iteration of this legislation, partly in an attempt to help prepare us for what might be coming in the future.

February 18th, 2021|

Are We Becoming Outdated?

In the not too distant past, a therapist with some kind of note pad in hand was the norm. It was expected. We were doing our jobs and interested enough in the client to take notes on what they were saying. I was part of that crowd. Although I preferred to write my notes after the client left, I definitely felt that paper notes were the way to go and I burned through many legal pads in the early years of my career.

July 15th, 2017|

Your Personal Psychotherapy Notes (Hint: These Are NOT Part of the Client’s Medical Record)

PSYBooks does not store Psychotherapy Notes in the same way it stores notes that are part of the client’s medical record. Psychotherapy notes are meant to be places for you to record your personal thoughts or ideas about a client so they are stored separately. There is one note type in PSYBooks that is always in the Psychotherapy note category and four others that you can designate as Psychotherapy or Medical Record notes:

June 15th, 2014|
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When You Have to Produce a Medical Record

Before I started using practice management systems, being required to produce a client’s medical record was a bit scary for two reasons:

  1. First, I typically only received those requests when something important was going on, i.e., a legal proceeding of some sort, a disability or worker’s comp situation, or maybe something having to do with insurance. They were the kinds of things where I felt that a lot might be at stake for my client (and/or for me) so I wanted to make sure I “did it right”.
  2. Second, although I had my own system for organizing client files, the reality is that my records were scattered everywhere. I kept files on current clients in one filing cabinet – unless a certain file got too big, in which case I moved older portions of it to another filing cabinet, unless there was also large artwork in the file, in which case it had to go in the lateral filing cabinet. When a client terminated, files got moved to a storage area in my basement at home. If the client later returned and their file had been especially large, part of it would be brought back to my office, but older parts remained in my basement at home. Then, of course, some documents were on my computer – a smattering of various Word docs and Excel sheets I had pieced together for special notes I had written on clients, letters I had written on their behalf, and various attempts at coming up with THE perfect method for determining how much a client owed me when insurance was involved. I had also tried efiling for awhile at various insurance company’s websites, so some of my records were on various sites on the Internet, too. Somehow, when I was asked to produce a medical record, even though I knew I had everything I needed, finding it all and pulling it all together into some type of meaningful report was a daunting task.

June 15th, 2014|

Recent posts

Doing Telehealth? You Need a Portal.

Business Associate Agreements:
Do We Really Need Them?

Integrated Products for Mental Health: Save Time, Money, Errors

All Patient Notes in ONE Place – You Don’t Have to Go Looking

Does the Open Notes Rule Apply to Me?

Why Do People Hate Electronic Health Records (EHRs)?

More Than a Three-Room House

Why Get an Integrated Product?

Do I Have to use HIPAA-Compliant Video? 

Are We Becoming Outdated?

What Will Happen to Your Clients?

Encrypted Email:
Your Role in Keeping it Safe