SIF Health Founder Malcolm Sloan spends everyday speaking with, and helping therapists streamline their business processes to allow them to do what it is they love to do....treat patients.
Forms and paperwork can easily destroy your evenings and leave you questioning why you seem to be forever doing admin. Sound familiar?
COVID has only served to add forms and process too.
“I changed profession to have more time with my family and yet every evening I seem to be sending out forms and chasing answers” was how one therapist described it to me today, So, is it all doom and gloom or are there things that can be done to help?
Well thankfully there are a number of areas and things you can do to help.
The following is a list of the top time sapping areas that can all be automated simply and cheaply.
Give client a form to complete upon arrival and watch them complete. Time: 10 minutes.
Watching someone complete a form or needing to have a receptionist hand out a form is a manual process that can be automated. Is it really the best use of your time or something you need to pay someone to do?
Find file, input paperwork and re-file. Time: 5 minutes.
This is a manual process also requiring additional expenditure in terms of printing costs and space for filing cabinets.
Manually attaching forms and email out in advance of each booking: Time: 5 minutes
A manual process that is often done because it is seen as ‘free’ however it can really chew up time and lead to the wrong forms being sent and a confused inbox with responses unless you are very organised.
Manually chasing the completion of forms. Time: 3 minutes
Needs no explanation. Is this a good use of your time? De-personalising the chasing can stop relationships being strained by it too.
Knowing which form relates to which booking. Time: 2 minutes
As you get busier the email inbox can get congested and it can take time to work out which form relates to which booking and which ones have been saved.
Printing off forms to save in client file. Time: 3 minutes
This is not only a manual process that can be automated with minimal fuss there are additional costs that can be saved in terms of printing costs, filing cabinets and space.
Clients resents the forms. Time: unquantifiable
Have you taken a look to see if you really need all of those questions? What are you hoping to achieve from them and can you streamline them? If you have more than one form are questions duplicated which often happens? Hard to quantify your time saving directly but keeping clients happy always helps.
As you can see from the above then based on conservative timings it can easily mount up to 28 minutes per appointment! That is longer than some appointments which is crazy.
Add a little to a little and it soon becomes a lot.
With just 5 clients a day that is nearly 2.5 hours of time that could be saved. I’m sure you’ve already got some processes in place so it’s unlikely to be 2.5 hours a day however we’ve had many therapists not realise the time they were spending when they tracked things for themselves.
Have you tried keeping a track of yours? What extra could you achieve with an extra 30-60 minutes a day for example?
If you are still wedded to paper, then it is hard to avoid many of these time sapping processes and perhaps the answer is to ensure your prices allow you to hire someone to do this work for you. For the majority of therapists hiring an extra body is simply not feasible thus it’s worth considering some or all of the areas you can make time savings.
A common mistake we see is where people have attempted to go paper free but do everything themselves and have found their evenings taken up with emailing forms, email inboxes a confused mess of Google forms and a filing structure on their computer, Dropbox or Sharepoint etc that causes niggling concerns as to whether everything is saved as well as security and accessibility thoughts.
It is absolutely possible to do things this way which can have a zero price cost however the trade off is your time as it is rarely quicker. Google Forms/JotForms etc can be used for free however to have secure cloud storage such as Dropbox/Sharepoint etc. will cost you circa £7.99 a month.
If you’ve got all your files on one laptop without any backups then please at least but an external hard drive and create weekly backups as a minimum.
The alternative is business/practice management software from £9.99 a month that can automate all of the 7 processes mentioned and provide secure accessible cloud storage. SIF can provide it from just 22p a day. Is 22 pence a day good value to save you up to 2.5 hours a day just on forms and paperwork alone?
A common question at this point is that therapists like the personal touch and control of speaking to and communicating to clients directly. We’d be the first to agree that communication is vitally important and using software doesn’t stop that, it adds to it.
You can personalise each email and form so it is specific to the service/appointment being booked. It gives you control and still gives you freedom to speak to clients but it removes the need to discuss admin as that is taken care of and gives you more time to make such calls.
What are your time saving tips when it comes to forms?