With all the negative aspects of keeping paper records, why is it so hard for a rehab clinic to convert to an electronic therapy documentation system? Paper is expensive to store, leaving even small practices with walls of paper files that must be filed, pulled, copied, faxed, stapled, and re-filed. As for a disaster recovery plan . . . there just isn’t one!
But the thought of letting go of “something to write on” brings about the fear of the unknown. How will we get the existing paper in the new system? Can I still make copies of insurance cards? What if we need something signed? It’s hard to imagine the scenario where you will NEVER need a folder to store paper. Those challenges are the tip of the iceberg when it comes to outpatient rehabilitation software. Be wary of software systems that claim an easy transition from paper to their “PT software in a box.” If you are looking to grow your practice, an out-of-the-box system is not for you. When you expand from one to two clinics . . . everything changes. Given the specialized needs of physical therapy documentation, the software you choose can make or break the transition from paper to electronic medical record. And once the software is in place, it needs to grow with you . . . and be able to handle more than one location. Things to consider are . . .
- The customer support capacity of the company. Do they have an American support staff that is knowledgeable about the software and your specialty? Are their existing clients satisfied? Are they available both during business hours and after hours (24 X 7). Always ask for references for any Physical Therapy Documentation software that is being used in a clinic similar to your own.
- The industry focus of the software and integration capabilities. Be sure your physical therapy software company has a clinical knowledge base that is kept up-to-date with the most current regulatory mandates while facilitating the complex payer process. This is an outpatient physical therapy software system used by large clinics in the United States. Select Physical Therapy, NovaCare Rehabilitation, to name a couple.
- The ability of the software to pay for itself in a reasonable time. Return on investment can never happen fast enough. However, it is reasonable to expect a complete ROI within 12 months or less.
The medical records kept by a family practitioner are different than those required for a physical therapist. So your PT software documentation system needs to reflect a PT knowledge base that incorporates clinically relevant verbiage that is specific to an outpatient physical therapy clinic. Your physical therapy software must be able to document the necessary clinical data that will facilitate the method of care, while at the same time, satisfy the needs of the referring physician, payer, employer, and the patient. Most important to your bottom line, it should take the documentation through to an accurate claim so payment can be received without delay.