I’ve moved 3 times since I opened my private practice in 2015. First, from Ontario to New Brunswick, then from New Brunswick to Maine. One of the things I was most grateful for upon that transition, was having a completely paperless practice. I can’t imagine the headache of having to transport full, locked filing cabinets while still ensuring privacy compliance. Not to mention trying to fit them in my car or the back of a U-Haul when I hadn’t hired a moving company!
The main reason I have been able to go completely paperless is because I use a Practice Management Software System called, OWL Practice. There is another popular Canadian-based system called Jane App that gets great reviews as well (I just haven’t used that one personally).
A practice management software system will generally cost you between $30 – $90 per month, depending on your needs. OWL practice allows me to securely store all of my client information including their contact info, case notes, circle of care, emergency contact, I can link accounts for couple’s and family therapy, and I can store documents, files and messages. One of their newest features even includes a secure messaging system. I also use OWL for scheduling, online booking, all of my client forms, and it comes with an integrated payment system so I can store my client’s payment information and charge their card on their behalf for their sessions, in addition to issuing invoices, receipts, and account summaries.
Going completely paperless isn’t necessary, but it can certainly make your business operation a lot more streamlined. If you’re not ready for a complete practice management system, there are smaller ways to go paperless along the way. There are programs like Schedulista, Calendly, and Acuity that allow you to manage online scheduling and client booking. You can also store your client calendar on a non-secure system like Google Cal or iCal so long as you encode your client’s names, like assigning them a client number.
Lots of therapists are even choosing to forego handwritten paper notes by using products like Remarkable or the Apple pencil. These products have the capability of allowing you to write on the electronic surface, and then it will convert your handwritten notes to typewritten form. You can also forego paper invoices and receipts, by sending those electronically.
Of course, the more you go paperless, the more you’re going to have to think about privacy compliance. There are lots of ways to maintain client confidentiality, and lots of programs out there that help ensure your client information is stored securely. However, once you’re ready to make the leap to a practice management system, nothing quite beats having an all-in-one system that allows you to let go of every last bit of paper associated with your practice!
If you’re just starting out in private practice, the cheapest way is the old fashioned paper and pencil. Two of the advantages, however, of starting out on a practice management system are that companies like OWL Practice and Jane offer discounts for therapists new to private practice who are only seeing a few clients per month, and if you start out electronically at the beginning, it will save you the headache of having to switch over down the road.
Whichever route you choose, I wish you so much success in your private practice endeavours!
As always, feel free to reach out if you need support with your business at firstname.lastname@example.org