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5 Signs of a Modern Mental Health Practice

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Therapy is really going through some changes. In fact, embracing technology and more efficient ways to provide care for mental health patients is now finally becoming the norm, rather than the exception. As more and more people become advocates for mental health, the typical therapy environment is evolving far beyond a small sign-in window and a comfortable couch squeezed into an office.

So when you are choosing your therapist, you probably would like to find a practice that offers every advantage possible to provide you with the best chance at a positive outcome. But how can you tell which practices have made the necessary changes to ensure this?

Let’s take a look at five signs of a modern mental health practice!

1. More Efficient Patient Intake

One of the things that people really dread when visiting any healthcare professional is the clipboard with the thick stack of papers that are typically handed through the sign-in window when a patient arrives for an appointment. Even though the patient arrived 15 minutes early, it almost seems like there’s always a race against time, scribbling away, glancing toward the office door, hoping that the forms will be finished before the patient’s name is called.

Well, those moments of stress are a thing of the past in a modern practice. In fact, patients are completing their intake in a variety of ways that not only speeds up the process, but also provides more detailed information for the clinician.

Many offices now have a kiosk in the waiting room, complete with a tablet or other device upon which patients may electronically complete their intake, without administration assistance and without a clipboard. Better yet, some patients can even complete their intake from home, before they even step foot inside the office, with use of an app for their own tablet or smartphone.

2. Better Mental Health Assessments

I’m sure you are aware of mental health assessment tools, like the PHQ-9, that are used to check patients for behavioral conditions like anxiety or depression. In the past, this was also another part of therapy, or screenings from a primary care physician. This typically entailed the use of a pen and clipboard yet again, or perhaps questions that were verbally asked by the therapist or physician.

Now, there is software available that can actually be used for these assessments. Quite like the patient intake, these assessments can be done via a kiosk in the waiting room, or perhaps there are tablets available for patients to use to complete the screenings. Or again, they may even be completed prior to the office visit from the patient’s smartphone, allowing the therapist to review the information before even seeing the patient.

3. Patient Engagement on a New Level

Some patients tend to take very well to therapy, ensuring that they stick to their treatment and do everything that they can to move beyond their current emotional barriers. But some patients completely forget about their therapy the minute they leave the office, not letting it cross their minds again until they are back the following week.

However, now technology has ushered in software that can provide patient engagement solutions that actually work for both the patient and the therapist. Patients will receive survey-style questionnaires sent directly to their tablets or smartphones, along with other tools helpful to their therapy. They can also access daily journals to record their thoughts patterns, which can be a wonderful point of reference for a therapist.

4. Utilizing Therapy Notes Software

Many probably recognize all too well the scenario of a therapist writing quickly in a notebook during a therapy session. Regardless of whether you are the patient or the therapist, this method of writing therapy notes is far less than efficient.

The patient may find himself far more focused on making sure the therapist can keep up with taking notes rather than with explaining his emotions or describing his feelings of depression and anxiety. And the therapist, well, let’s just say that she has probably missed a family dinner more than once to catch up on therapy notes.

However, now there are several HIPAA compliant therapy notes softwares on the scene. The best will offer easy-to-use templates and simple treatment plans, and they will make writing therapy notes faster and more inclusive than ever before.

5. Online Calendar

Now, both patients and therapists can reap the benefits from a practice that uses a good online calendar for practice management. Many online calendars include other features that offer additional organizational value as well.

Patients can receive patient reminders, so that they never miss an important appointment, ensuring that they stay on track with their treatment plan. And therapists can say goodbye to empty waiting rooms and missed appointments, so they will also benefit from the patient reminders, as well as other tools, like scheduling appointments.

As technology progresses, we may see even more features in software that can help therapists provide even better care for their patients. Plus, with the new ease of forms and the successful outlook of better patient engagement, therapy will be more appealing than ever before. Won’t that be a fantastic day?

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Thinkstock photo via Jacob Ammentorp Lund

Originally published: June 22, 2017
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