My Experience Transitioning to SimplePractice’s “Professional for Groups” Plan
By: Julie de Azevedo Hanks, PhD, LCSW
The Right EHR
Finding an electronic health record (EHR) system for a group private practice is hard. As healers, we genuinely like to do our work. Guiding clients through the therapy process and seeing them make progress is why we do what we do. But if you're in private practice, you know there's a lot going on behind the scenes that’s crucial to running an efficient and organized business.
The right EHR matters, but which one is actually going to work best for you? There’s a variety of features that are so important for my practice—like easy and immediate reporting options, an online scheduler, integrated credit card billing, and a great client portal. We’ve been using an EHR for three years that has some great clinical features, but the reporting options were inconvenient and outdated. We needed to make a change.
The Transition Process
In March of this year, my team at Wasatch Family Therapy transitioned to SimplePractice’s group option, Professional for Groups. After reviewing the other options out there, SimplePractice was the most innovative practice management software I could find that would actually meet my needs. In case you’re considering changing to SimplePractice from another EHR, I wanted to share the experience my team and I have had in transitioning over to SimplePractice’s group option.
It’s important to remember that no matter how great the software, transitioning a group practice to a new system is hard. My team experienced a lot of anxiety prior to transitioning to SimplePractice’s group option. An EHR is an integral part of our practice, both clinically and from a business standpoint. And the unknown factors—the possibility of errors that might impact our livelihoods—were daunting.
A few weeks before our March 1 transition date, I sent each of our team members their login information so they could test out the platform, create test clients, use the calendar, explore the clinical notes, and get familiar with SimplePractice. I invited them to take note of all of their questions, and of any difficulties they had navigating the software, and send questions to Brittany, my office manager, and me.
Brittany watched the SimplePractice training videos in preparation for our March 1 transition. She also went through all of the administrative options, input therapists, and customized the auto-responders and invoices.
We held two hour-long training sessions during our regularly scheduled team meetings to walk all team members through the SimplePractice platform. Everyone brought their laptops or smartphones so they could walk through each step on their own devices. Brittany guided everyone through the processes of scheduling a client, note writing, supervision functions, and syncing with Google Calendar, etc. We also played around with the SimplePractice app.
I noticed something ironic during our group trainings—our tendency to want to complicate SimplePractice. It wasn’t long before therapists started requesting a variety of clinical notes and forms. My clinical director Mike did a great job of vetting the suggestions by saying, “You have to make a really good case for me to add anything to SimplePractice.”
The Transition Difficulties
The problems we experienced during our transition in March were not because of SimplePractice. Our previous payment portal didn’t require CVC codes, so we soon realized that we couldn’t run any of our client’s credit cards. We’ve had to ask every client for their CVC code, or have them input their credit card information via the client portal.
Our previous EHR didn’t have a way to export our client data so that we could import it into SimplePractice (in the year 2017!). So, we (and by “we” I mean my office manager Brittany) had to input all of our client information by hand.
Figuring out how our internal clinical supervisors could sign other clinical notes took a little bit of effort. We soon learned about the “lock” function on each note that sends that note to the supervisor’s queue.
From my clinicians’ points of view, SimplePractice is very user-friendly and the simple intake and clinical note forms have taken a lot less time to complete. One therapist, Clair Mellenthin, sent me a text saying, “I just dictated all of my notes in a few minutes using the SimplePractice app on my iPhone!”
From an office manager’s vantage point, SimplePractice makes running credit cards a breeze. The seamless integration with Stripe payment processing has significantly reduced the time and effort it takes to process credit card payments. Also, the automated messages giving new clients access to both the client portal and new client forms is an excellent feature.
As the owner and executive director, I appreciate how easily I can access financial reports to see if we are meeting our financial goals. After one month of using SimplePractice, I know I have made a good decision for my practice.