What to Look For in a Front Desk Practice Management System

Written by SimplePractice on January 2, 2017

Make your next front desk practice management system work for you

Finally! After years of working with paper files and different software packages, the private practice owner has put you in charge of implementing a new front desk practice management system. The inner geek in you is out in full force. You’ve got your post-it notes ready, new pens and markers, and a pros-and-cons list waiting to be filled out. In between scheduling (and rescheduling!) appointments and sending invoices, your goal is to research all the companies that offer a front-desk system for mental health private practices.

So, what makes for a perfect system? You obviously want it to be user-friendly, adaptive, and integrated, but it’s smart to create a list of features you need, and you’d love to have, in a front desk practice management system. Here are eight features we think you’ll find vital.

01-what-to-look-for-in-a-front-desk-practice-management-system1. Appointment reminders

A scheduling system is obviously at the top of your “need” list, so let’s go a step further here. If you want to save time in your workday (and who doesn’t?), contacting clients to remind them about their appointments can be one of the very first items to get rid of. A quality front desk practice management software will have a reminder system that can contact your clients by text, email, and even voicemail to gently nudge them and remind them to attend their appointment.

Look for something that you can set and forget. An appointment reminder system that features text, email and voice reminders allows you to get in touch with your clients via their preferred method, which is helpful, and not intrusive. As laborious as reminders can be, you know they help to reduce no-shows, which is why an automated system will keep good practices happening, but lessen your workload.

2. Calendar syncing

Life happens, and the clients—as well-intentioned as they may be —may not always know when their children’s baseball games are or if they’ve rescheduled a dental appointment without adding it to their iPhone calendar. This means you’re often rescheduling appointments. It also means you not only talk to the client, but you also have to call, email, or leave notes for the counselors to let them know about the changes (and possibly manipulate room scheduling in a group practice.

That system is too complicated. Your new front desk practice management system should have a HIPAA-compliant syncing feature that automatically updates anyone’s calendars that are connected. This way, you’re able to simply update the scheduler, and the software will do the rest of the legwork for you.

Plus, the counselors understand how busy you are, and they don’t want to bother you when you’re doing more important work, like settling claims with insurance. If their calendars are linked, they’ll have the power to see where their appointments are, as well as update their availability if something comes up in their personal lives.

02-what-to-look-for-in-a-front-desk-practice-management-system3. Credit card processing

One way to alleviate the time you spend sending invoices is to purchase a front desk practice management system with built in credit card processing options. While many systems vary, look for one with an online portal that is fully integrated with the software’s billing software. If it’s not integrated, move on to a different software system. You want your investment to work for you.

You certainly don’t want to continue to manually input information into separate systems. Look for special perks, such as a secure online portal that allows you to collect credit card information from your clients, and then charge them without needing to re-swipe the card every time. This last perk is particularly useful for a cashless business.

03-what-to-look-for-in-a-front-desk-practice-management-system4. Electronic claim filing

You may love your job, but chances are insurance claims still occasionally leave you ready to pull your hair out, especially if you’re still filing paper claims (partially or entirely!). Electronic claim filing should be one of your highest priorities when searching for a new software program, as it will not only save you time in your job, but it reduces the chance of manual error, which means your practice gets paid quicker. Look for a front desk practice management system that auto populates your claims based on the diagnosis and type of appointment scheduled. You’ll also want features such as claim tracking and payment reports that update accounting.

5. Mobile app

According to the PewResearchCenter, approximately two-thirds of Americans now own a smartphone, so it’s likely everyone in your practice would benefit from a mobile app that syncs with the new front desk practice management system. If you’re on-call, and a client cancels their morning appointment for the next day, you can just use a mobile app to edit their appointment time without having to find your way to a computer and log in. If a mobile app is important to you in your search (and it should be!), make sure the one you choose is HIPAA compliant and has bank-level security to keep your client’s confidential information safe.

If you’ve found a front desk practice management system that works well for your needs, aim higher. Does it also have features the counselors can use? If so, the practice owner will be more likely to buy into a fully integrated software system, versus purchasing a front desk system and separate clinical software. Here are some options that may sway the decision makers in your organization:

  • Secure therapy notes
  • Treatment planning section
  • Diagnostic options
  • Secure Document Storage

You’ve done a ton of research looking for a new front desk practice management system, and now, you’re probably backed up with work. Don’t stress. SimplePractice can help. How? Our product can do every single thing on this list (and more!). Plus, we’re so committed to wanting to see you succeed we let you try the product out for free for 30-days, and that will be music to your practice owner’s ears. So, what are you waiting for—sign up now.

What features do you look for in a front desk practice management system? Is there anything on this list you haven’t thought of before? Share your ideas in the comments.

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About the Author

SimplePractice is a top-reviewed practice management platform, made specifically for small business owners in the health and wellness space. Unlike other systems, which try to make you conform to their way of doing things, we believe that you should have the freedom to run your practice the way you’d like. SimplePractice’s industry-leading feature set includes secure messaging, customizable paperless intake forms, a template library, free appointment reminders (SMS, email, & voice), electronic claim filing, billing and invoicing, a beautiful client portal with online appointment booking, and more.

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