Now that many of you have started the process of hosting virtual and physical counseling sessions (haven't started looking into the benefits of virtual practice? Click here to learn more), let's take a look into another foundational aspect of counseling: intake forms.
What is a patient intake form? It is a special form designed to increase the efficiency of your practice and improve the patient experience. They are critical to a well-functioning office. If you design smart forms, they’ll become useful tools that collect all of the information you need. Ok, so what should they include?
Client intake forms should ask for basic information, such as their name, date of birth, age, sex, contact information, emergency contact, employer, and insurance information. You will also need to know what brings them to your office and what symptoms they have. You should also ask how they learned about your practice or business. When you use this information, you help to enhance your marketing efforts.
You should always collect insurance information before the appointment to verify that the client has insurance. And if they do not, make them aware so that they can be sure to have the proper amount that their appointment costs, or so that they can cancel their appointment in a timely manner. You should also consider using an online intake form so that you’ll have their insurance information beforehand, therefore being able to run their information and get back to the patient if there are any problems. You’ll also be able to get paid right away and not waste an appointment time.
If your office or practice does not use online intake forms, you may want to consider adopting this into your practice. One of the easiest ways to handle this clinical side of your practice is to get a ready-made Practice Management System or EHR System. An EHR system is an application that pretty much handles all of the clinical sides of your practice. The advantage is that it can handle everything from scheduling appointments to entering session notes, billing, to filing insurance claims. Some of them even send out appointment reminders to your clients.
One platform that is ideal to use is SimplePractice. SimplePractice is an EHR (electronic health record) platform that is HIPAA-Compliant and keeps your patients’ information safe and secure, with everything electronically. Not familiar with HIPAA-Compliant EHR platforms? Don't worry, we've made a list of our top favorites which you can access here. Even if your clients do not have an email address, you are still able to put their information into the SimplePractice database.
There are other EHR platforms that you can use to help take your practice to the next step, by keeping their information safe and electronic. Doxy.me is a cloud-based electronic medical record (EMR) and telemedicine solution designed for practices of any size. It also offers Android and iOS apps for mobile devices. Doxy.me allows patients to start sessions by clicking on a URL shared via email or text. The platform enables users to send patients text, videos, and images while they wait for the video session to start. The product also records meeting histories, such as patient details, date of appointment, and call duration. Thera-LINK is another great option. Thera-LINK is a cloud-based teletherapy solution designed to help individual practitioners to midsize therapy businesses manage virtual services. Thera-LINK features file sharing, client/session notes, electronic payments, scheduling, client listing directory, and secure messaging. It allows practitioners to view client profiles, past appointments, personal details, session durations, and payments history. These EHR platforms offer these forms and keep all of these forms, and others, safe and secure, all electronically.
Depending on which services you are providing, you can have different forms for sessions such as marriage counseling, child and adolescent counseling, and adult services as well. Different services need different intake forms. For marriage counseling, they need a form as to why they are seeking help from a third party. A child may have faced some childhood drama and their intake form needs to be different than those that an adult may need.
Intake forms are a necessity in private practice. And now that much of the world has started going down the “electronic path”, it is beneficial to have options as to what you can use for your own practice. It is important to have the right forms for your practice and the many options you have to help your practice stay “in the know” with the ever-changing world, electronically.
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