As an SLP in private practice, you can choose to use 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. However, if you accept insurance or have more than a few clients, you are pretty much going to need an EHR.
Not only does an EHR save you file cabinet space and trees, but many insurance payers require or strongly advise electronic claim submission. Having an EHR makes things as simple as dealing with insurance can get. The right EHR can also improve your workflow and save you hours on administrative tasks.
With many options out there, the process may seem daunting, so I put together some questions you can start with, tips for getting the most out of your trial, and reasons why I made my own decision.
Identify what matters to you
Choosing an EHR is highly dependent on your specific practice’s needs. Are you a solo practitioner or do you have employees? Do you have multiple specialists in your practice who require different types of notes and forms?
Start by asking yourself some questions to identify what you need for your practice. Here are some important questions to consider that cover the various aspects of running an SLP practice.
- Does the EHR charge by the clinician or by the client? Are there fees for office staff (non-clinical staff) who will be using it?
- What does the monthly fee include? Are there extra fees for a client portal, appointment reminders, multiple office locations, data storage, or importing and exporting data?
- Does this EHR integrate with a specific credit card company? If so, what are the credit card fees?
- Does the EHR offer a discount for annual billing vs. monthly?
- Is billing integrated or do I need to manage a separate system?
- Is it easy to create invoices and superbills in the system?
- What are the claim fees?
- Are ERA’s available? Is there a fee for them?
- Can I store credit cards on file, or do I need to swipe a client’s card each time?
- Can clients make payments online through self-service?
- Are all of my CPT and ICD-10 codes included already? Can I customize the CPT and ICD-10 codes or add a frequently-used code list? Are SLP-specific codes available or will I need to add them in?
- Can I customize the paperwork/documents within the system or do I have to scan everything in?
- Are there note and form templates that I can customize, or do I need to use a set form?
- Can I add my logo to the paperwork so my documents look professional?
- Does this EHR support paperless intakes?
- Is there a Client Portal or secure messaging available so I can communicate with clients?
- Can clients access documents and messages on their phones?
- Does the EHR offer secure Telehealth?
- Is there a way for clients to request appointments online?
- Can I set a recurring schedule of appointments?
- Is it easy to manage cancellations or no-shows?
- Can I sync my EHR calendar with my Google Calendar or iCal?
- Can I access my account from any device, or do I need to be at my desktop?
- Is there a mobile app I can use for scheduling, notes, billing, and communicating with clients?
- Can I take notes on my iPad?
- When is support available and what types are offered (phone, chat, email, screen-shares, a customer forum)?
- Is there a help center with detailed articles and videos that I can use to find quick answers to my questions?
- Are there live classes or demos where I can ask questions and learn from a team member?
- Does the EHR make an effort to onboard or educate its customers?
- Is there a fee for “concierge” support (after business hours, via phone, video chat, etc.)?
Some of the questions I suggested might be more important to you than others. And you may have some more of your own that you want to add to your list. The questions are a good starting point to help you identify what you need in an EHR, and each person’s individual list will look slightly different.
To make this process even easier for you, we put together this checklist with the important questions. Download and print it out or fill it out on your computer.
Once you are armed with these questions, you can check out the EHRs that the internet has to offer. You will have to do a demo with them to truly see their features. Most offer a free 30-day trial.
Make the most out of your free trial
The free trial is a great time to get to know an EHR. You can get a sense of what it will be like to use it every day, and what type of support you can expect to receive. While in your trial, pay attention to the following:
- Does the support team at the EHR 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 a forum or Facebook community 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 working in the EHR and looking at it every day? Does it feel clean and intuitive, or boxy and clunky?
Again, you may not need to consider ALL of the above questions, but make sure to note the ones that are most important to you. During your trial, be sure to get 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 of your boxes.
Choose the best EHR for your SLP practice
I trialed many EHR’s while searching for one that fit my practice. I spent hours adding in client info 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. Here’s why I love it:
- The Client Portal is built in (no extra fee) and 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 of SimplePractice if you have another clearinghouse that you prefer).
- It is integrated with Stripe (credit card processing) so clients can pay invoices securely right from that client portal for just the cost of Stripe fees (2.95% + 30 cents), but using credit card processing is completely optional.
- I find the price very reasonable for the Professional plan with NO EXTRA FEES for anything except that clearinghouse fee if you choose to use it.
SimplePractice offers a free 30-day trial, so you can see if it works for you.
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!