05 May Choosing Massage Practice Software
Massage Therapists, Chiropractors, Physical Therapists and Acupuncturists are bombarded with tons of software & practice management solutions, government programs & regulations, and electronic health & medical records all weighing in on the way we practice and do business. So amidst this sea of choices, how do you choose the right solution for you? We have prepared this basic guide to assist you in finding the solution that will meet your needs, regardless of whether you choose our product or something else.
I’m sure that you’ve heard stories from fellow therapists that bought software or signed up for an online system that ended up being a total disaster. Either the system was full of bugs or crashed all the time or they couldn’t get support or they were told it would do something and it wouldn’t or they couldn’t figure out how to use it and the list goes on. Choosing a management solution for your practice is very important. The problem is that very few therapists know how to choose the right one for their practice.
After completing your training, you may be a very talented therapist but most schools fall short in the area of the “business” of being a massage therapist. There is also very little, if any, instruction or guidance into software choices and practice management. You just wanted to be a massage therapist so you could help people and make a decent living while you were at it. Most therapists I speak with find that running a practice is much more involved than just being a good therapist. You have to be a manager, a public relations expert, a social media wizard and now a computer expert as well. So when you look to your computer to help manage all of this, how do you choose which solution is best to handle your situation?
Try to Avoid These Pitfalls
“Low Cost” Method
You decide that they all look like they do pretty much the same thing so you buy the lowest cost one. Well, a $99.00 massage table LOOKS like a $500.00 table but we both know it isn’t. If you are serious about your business, choosing the cheapest solution can cost you thousands in wasted time, lost income and clients.
“It Will Do For Now” Method
Almost the same as the “Low Cost” method. You convince yourself it is ok to buy a cheap solution because it will do for now. Later, you find out that your needs have changed and you are stuck with a system that won’t grow with you. You also realize it will cost way more money and time converting to the solution you should have bought in the first place.
You google “Massage Software” or “Practice Management” and find every software and online solution company and sign up or request information from all of them. You end up getting so much feedback in the onslaught of the “pick me” emails that you end up deleting almost everything and make no headway at all.
“Looks Really Cool” Method
You’ve looked at all these different products and one of them has a really cool, slick website with lots of flashy graphics. You figure that because they have high tech website, they must have good software. After you buy, you find out that they spent all their money on marketing and none on their software or on technical support.
Checklist for Choosing the Right Solution
First off, don’t even think about cost. Try to remain disconnected from the price of any given product. Sit down and make a list of all of the issues that you need a practice management solution to address in your practice. Write everything down, even if you don’t think a computer or software will handle that problem.
Decide which items are a MUST HAVE, which ones are fairly important and which ones would be really nice but not crucial. Use a numbering system to rank their importance. Keep in mind that anything you now do on paper that you could do with the computer will cost you more money in the long run. You want your solution choice to do everything it possibly can. The more the product does the more you will save on learning time and frustration.
Get a list of companies that offer what appears to be a good solution and call each one. From your needs list, ask them if they can solve each one of your “MUST HAVE” issues. If they say they can, ask them to show you an example in real time. If they can’t, thank them for their time and hang up. Also, call the companies 3 times in 3 days. See if you get a person and if they can answer your questions. Service AFTER the sale is almost more important than before. This should narrow down the choices significantly.
When you have gathered all the information, look over everything. As you discover an issue the solution handles, mark it off of your list. Remember you may come across terms you are not familiar with. Call the company and ask them what they are talking about. STOP IF YOU FIND A TERM YOU DON’T KNOW OR IF YOU GET CONFUSED. Call for clarification.
After you have gone over all the information, schedule a walk-through, live demonstration with each possible candidate. At this point, you should have a good idea of which solutions handle the needs on your list and which ones don’t.
Decide on the solution that will work best for your situation. The one that handles the most of what you need. Then, and only then, talk price. It will cost you way more in the long run if you purchase a solution, based solely on price, that doesn’t do what you truly need. Don’t make the mistake of spending a dollar to save a dime!
Things to Think About
There are very few practice management and billing programs that were written specifically for massage therapists. Most programs start as generic service business solutions. For instance, gyms, hair salons, etc. The problem is that these products won’t give you the benefits of one that was designed specifically for your industry by (or with the guidance of) someone in your industry.
If a solution requires a bunch of special commands and codes to enter data, then it will be difficult to learn and to train others on.
Look for a company that has remote support capabilities. Remote support allows the Tech Support staff computer and your computer to hook up together. Everything that you see on your screen they can see on theirs. This makes training and technical support amazingly easy and thorough.
- Does the company have live training, training videos or training on CD?
- The less typing and the fewer clicks, the better. How much does the solution automate tasks? (treatment notes, insurance billing, redundant information.)
- Menus can be helpful but they can be over-used by system designers. How many tasks can you accomplish without touching a menu? Many systems have so many menus that you can spend a huge amount of time just browsing through the menus. This is an unnecessary drain on productive time and, in many cases, this loss of productivity will completely cancel out any gains a solution might have provided. Be very aware of this one.
- If you book and track your client sessions, write SOAP or progress notes, bill insurance, and sell gift certificates and products, you need more than just a simple calendar.
- The more comprehensive the solution, the more you will have to learn to in order to use it. It should be powerful enough to handle your needs but simple enough that a new person can learn it easily. I believe the term is “Intuitive”
I hope this guide has helped you in some way. If we can assist you further, we are only a phone call away.