Do you need ways to ease the burden on your staff? Keep your files tidy and accessible? Ensure that your patients still receive top care? Have you considered implementing new systems or updating old ones to build a better practice? If you’re answering ‘yes’ to these questions, sounds like you’re needing to with proper systems that save you time in mental health practice management. I get it, there’s a lot to consider here and technology can certainly seem to be working against us at times; however, these systems can help you create change in a difficult – and often stressful – environment.
You can bring in systems that simplify administrative work, improve communication, and ensure that nothing slips through the cracks. Lets explore strategies that can have a substantial impact on a mental health practice.
1. Establish Simple Systems for Scheduling and Team Organization
How much time do you spend planning day-to-day staff arrangements? Scheduling and organizing teams, setting meetings, and more? It’s possible to reclaim that time and rededicate it to your patients, or tasks to build a better patient experience.
The first suggestion is to do your best to keep a fairly consistent schedule and still offer flexibility. A recent study reported 66% of respondents wanted a flexible schedule. You can build schedules that benefit your staff, support your patients, and keep your office running smoothly. Work with your staff to create systems or agreements when it comes to shift swaps and scheduling around your staff’s needs.
The next element here is to set meetings to a schedule. Put your one-on-one meetings, all-hands meetings, and team huddles on the schedule and stick to it. Then you don’t have to worry if certain times do or don’t work.
Many offices are even choosing to outsource this particular administrative task. Consider outsourcing HR services, or software that will use the same schedule for meetings and staff work times from one week to the next. You can also outsource to an assistant who can manage the admin workload, while also arranging or coordinating meetings.
2. Give Your Communication Structure and Purpose
Workforce management and mental health offices come together at one particular pain point: communication.
Mental health practices have HIPAA to consider; meanwhile, managers are always looking for ways to ensure that everyone has easy access to information. You might choose to use a digital communication method for your staff’s daily interactions and use a more secure method for patient care information.
In a shared communication system, nurses and office staff can exchange messages to:
- Notify other staff that someone is on a break or with a patient.
- Inform doctors and staff that a queued patient is becoming panicky or antsy.
- Ask questions about prioritizing their next tasks to continue working toward office goals.
Patients can use other systems to send notes, ask questions, or schedule times with your staff.
3. Streamline with an EHR
If you haven’t opted for an Electronic Health Records system, then you’re probably losing a lot of time, and your staff is too. These systems are great ways for the entire practice to implement better HIPAA and security habits. However, it can also take a lot of stress off your staff. An EHR can give your staff more confidence in the data you have on hand and the reliability of the notes.
An EHR can provide:
- Admin tracking
- Data recording
- Clearer and cleaner data
- Easy-to-read notes
You don’t need to pick apart faded Post-Its or half-scribbled notes anymore. There are EHRs meant for mental health offices, including TherapyNotes and SimplePractice. It’s always worth considering the solutions tailored for your type of practice.
4. Implement a Visitor Management System
Your secretary or front desk staff can reduce the time they spend taking in patients and minimize contact points. For in-office visits, be sure to have an e-check-in area. Use a visitor management system to handle digital in-take forms and register new patients. Then your staff can give more attention to patients who need help right away.
There are countless HIPAA-compliant options, and you can certainly find the right system for your office needs. This system is one change that can have a wide impact on how your office runs. It can also help improve health and safety procedures implemented after COVID-19 changes. Your patients may prefer checking in with a screen or on their phone rather than speaking with a staff member from behind plexiglass and struggling to hear someone talking through a face mask or shield. A visitor management system can reduce some of the frequent pain points that can frustrate or irritate patients before they even get into their appointment.
5. Consider Asynchronous Messaging Options
Telehealth and text or chat are changing mental health. What if you could receive a message from a patient without it disrupting anything else? When something is important or top-of-mind but isn’t an emergency, a text could be the answer. Patients often want to reach out with a chat, question, or item to discuss later. As an office manager, you can use Chatbots to send a premade video or note. Give clear steps on what the person can expect from this system when you can’t respond right away.
After you receive a text or chat, you can:
- Think about the context of the chat
- Brush up on the file
- Call or message with a clear response.
These messaging options can help everyone spend less time on the phone. It can even help reduce patient frustration.
Implement Systems that Reduce Workforce Demand and Improve the Patient Experience
Right now, your staff handle admin tasks, patients and more. You can help reduce some of those drains on their time – and yours – by:
- Using a simple work schedule system
- Creating a communication plan
- Brining in an EHR
- Starting to use a visitor system
- Relying on an SMS telehealth option
Balancing between management and a support system isn’t easy, but the entire office can benefit from positive changes that save time.
Further Resources and Systems That Save You Time in Mental Health Practice Management
About The Contributor
Derek Jones (VP Enterprise Strategy, Americas)
Derek spearheads key initiatives at Deputy, a global workforce management platform for employee scheduling, timesheets and communication. With a focus on Healthcare, Derek helps business owners and workforce leaders simplify employment law compliance, keep labor cost in line and build award-winning workplaces. Derek has over 16 years of experience in delivering data-driven sales and marketing strategies to SaaS companies like MarketSource and Griswold Home Care.