As a speech-language pathologist in private practice, you have to make a choice between paper records or electronic records. If you have just a few private clients and only accept private pay (no insurance), then paper records could work just fine. But, if you accept insurance or have more than a handful of clients, you’re going to need an EHR system that’s equipped to handle your needs.
Not only does an EHR save file cabinet space and trees, but it also gives you the ability to meet insurance-payer requirements for electronic claim submission. An EHR is key to simplifying your insurance needs. The right platform can also improve your workflow and save you hours on everyday administrative tasks.
There are quite a few options out there, but they all differ. That’s why I’ve put together some questions for you to ask—plus tips for getting the most out of your trial. I also share which was the best EHR system for my own practice.
Identify the EHR Features That Matter to You
The EHR you choose depends on your practice’s specific needs. Are you a solo practitioner, or do you have employees? Do you have multiple specialists in your practice who need different types of notes and forms?
Start by thinking about what will really help your practice. Here are nine important parts of your business you’ll need to address when running an SLP practice.
- Payment Processing
- Client Communication
- Mobile Access
Make the Most Out of Your Free Trial
Once you know what to look for, you can check out which EHR systems are out there. You’ll have to do a demo or start a free trial with the platforms you’re strongly considering to get a better understanding of their features. Most offer a free, 30-day trial.
The free trial period is a great way to get to know the bells and whistles of an EHR. You can get a sense of what it’ll be like to use it every day and what type of support you can expect to receive. During your trial, pay attention to the following:
- Does the EHR support team make an effort to help you get started?
- Do they offer any assistance importing your clients?
- Are they available and attentive to your questions?
- Is there an online forum where you can connect with other customers?
- Are the other customers active, friendly, and willing to share advice?
- Do you feel like you can create a flexible workflow, or does the EHR make you follow a rigid process?
- Are you comfortable navigating the EHR every day?
- Is the software design intuitive, or is it boxy and clunky?
Again, you may not need to answer every single one of the questions above. But make sure to note the ones that are most important to you. During your trial, focus on getting answers to all the questions you identified as your key features or most important factors for your practice. Try a couple of different EHRs and see which ones check off most or all of your boxes.
How I Chose the Best EHR Software for My SLP Practice
I started out using hard-copy notes and keeping track of billing in Excel, but that quickly became a huge headache as my caseload grew. Once I decided to go digital, I tried many EHRs before I found one that fit my practice. I spent hours adding in client information and seeing how the software worked. After a few months of trial (and error), I found my “Goldilocks” EHR—the best fit for me. It was SimplePractice.
Why I Love SimplePractice
- The Client Portal is built in for no extra fee.
- It allows completely paperless intakes through interactive forms.
- You can easily create superbills and invoices, and email them to clients right from their chart.
- Billing is simple.
- They work with a dedicated clearinghouse, so you can bill insurance right from your account for 25 cents per claim. You can also create CMS 1500 forms, and bill outside SimplePractice if you have another clearinghouse that you prefer.
- It’s integrated with Stripe—a credit card processor—so clients can pay invoices securely right from their Client Portal for just the cost of Stripe fees (2.95% + 30 cents/transaction). This is an optional feature.
- The integrated Telehealth option is the simplest and most cost-effective solution to my telehealth needs.
- It allows one-click login for clients and screen-sharing. Plus, scheduling and billing is seamlessly integrated into my workflow. The $10/month fee is the most cost-effective telehealth solution that I’ve found.
- The price for the Professional Plan is very reasonable, and comes with no extra fees for scheduling, client reminders, or storage.
SimplePractice offers a free 30-day trial, so you can see if it works for you too. Finding the right EHR takes some time and effort. But once you do, you’ll be amazed at how much time you’ll save, and how much easier it is to stay organized!
About the Author
Jill Shook, MS, CCC-SLP owns a private practice in Pittsburgh, PA. She supports SLPs through a course for SLPs starting out in private practice, available through Northern Speech Services, and consultations and free resources on her Private Practice SLP website. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.