When Ned Stark says, “Winter is Coming,” we therapists know that means last-minute cancellations. Never fear, however. Therapy tech holds the power to keep the cancellation rate down, take care of clients’ needs, and get you paid for your work.
Here are some tips for using therapy tech tools to make sure clients get their sessions:
1) Use Appointment Reminders
A great way to deal with life’s many obstacles is to keep the communication flowing.
Winter obstacles include school closures that keep parents at home, vehicle breakdowns that reduce mobility, and other seasonal issues that don’t have to make for cancelled appointments. If a client doesn’t think about their therapy appointment until the last second, they won’t have the time or energy to respond when something gets in their way.
Your practice management system probably has an appointment reminder feature. You can also send your own “Winter weather check-in” reminders if you have a smooth, secure way of texting with clients.
2) Set Up a Smooth, Secure Way of Texting With Clients
“Texting” can mean a lot of things. It might mean a secure app that you and your clients use. If you’re taking the right legal-ethical steps for nonsecure client communications, it might even mean good ol’ SMS texting.
The important thing is that most people today respond when texted. If your method of texting clients is one that you have normed with them and that they are comfortable with, they are more likely to communicate smoothly with you about obstacles and potential solutions.
There are many healthcare-oriented texting apps out there. See our HIPAApropriateness Reviews of services that offer secure texting for more. You may also be able to text clients using your secure email service’s mobile app, your practice management system’s mobile app, or even your secure videoconferencing service’s mobile app.
3) Norm Video Sessions With Clients (and Maybe Not Phone Sessions)
One reason why telemental health is so popular is the ability to “let it snow” while you do sessions by video. However, this is something you need to set up and norm with clients ahead of time.
Classically, we have used phone sessions to fill in the weather gaps. Most private insurers won’t pay for phone sessions, however (except in certain rural areas.) If they know that a session was done by phone, there is a risk that they won’t pay for it. This is not universally true, but it is usually true.
Most insurers will pay for secure video sessions, though! To keep up with legal, ethical, and clinical standards of care, there is prep work to do with clients before proposing video sessions. You may need training, as well.
We recommend bringing up the telemental health option with clients several times before harsh Winter weather arrives. They may need time to get used to the idea of sessions online before the need suddenly arises in the form of a storm or a cold snap.
So be sure to keep that communication flowing this Winter. Use your tools to help you and clients to stay on top of obstacles, and stay connected!