Managing a physical therapy practice is a huge undertaking, especially if you’re a practicing clinician and need to juggle patient care with administrative tasks. And if your role is solely focused on operations, there are still lots of plates to keep spinning—from HR to appointment scheduling, ensuring documentation compliance, and revenue management.
Physical therapy software is designed to help, but can seem prohibitively expensive when your practice is still small. Most free software only offers limited functionality—for example, they won’t handle billing—so you need to fill the gaps with separate apps or manual work.
In this post, we’re going to explore the pros and cons of free physical therapy software and we’ll introduce our own platform for physical therapists, StrataEMR.
4 Options for Managing Your Practice (Free and Not-so-Free)
Many of the free all-in-one physical therapy tools don’t have much to offer, and the better options tend to have tight usage limits before you need to start paying for the stuff you really need. Some software companies even advertise themselves as free, but in reality, they only offer a short free trial period before their pricing kicks in and they send you a bill.
This leaves physical therapy practices with a few options:
Keep doing everything manually with spreadsheets and documents, and ditch the idea of software. You’ll already know the problem with that; it’s impossible to scale your practice, hard to stay compliant, and you’ll continue to be overburdened by an unmanageable pile of work.
Stitch together various free tools to cover what you need. The problem here is that these tools almost never integrate properly so you end up doing duplicate work. Plus, most free tools have usage limits (e.g. number of users or patients), so you end up paying separate fees for different tools to handle patient scheduling, documentation, operational workflows, and billing/invoicing. For example, one software (called Pabau, designed for various types of medical clinics) offers a very limited freemium version that permits just 1 user and less than 50 clients. But it doesn’t handle billing at all. And another tool, Setmore, is free for up to 4 users but it’s mainly designed for patient scheduling. You’d need to pay for a separate software or service to handle your insurance reimbursements.
Pay for a heavy-hitting EMR/EHR system. The problem here is that many of the solutions out there are only built for large practices, or even hospitals. Some are designed generically for healthcare providers, not PTs specifically. And even for many of the PT-focused tools, you’ll be paying extra fees for the modules you need.
(Many of our customers come to us after trying one of these systems and experiencing several issues. First, they only see a tiny jump in reimbursement rates from using the billing software, leaving upwards of 20% unpaid. Also, we’ve heard they have huge difficulty getting hold of customer support, sometimes waiting for weeks. Our average response time through secure messaging is just 22 minutes).
Fortunately there’s another approach:
StrataEMR—our all-in-one platform, where all of the EMR functionality is free (including patient scheduling and engagement, workflows, analytics, and much more), with no separate widgets, plugins, or extensions that rack up the costs. Our incentive is to get you paid more, so StrataEMR is built to facilitate a clean claims process and help you reach a reimbursement rate of 99.999% (30-40% above the industry standard). We only charge a fixed percentage of the money collected. No surprises, and your practice will make more money with StrataEMR than without.
As just one example, Genesis Physical Therapy signed up after 15 years of being in the business. The practice saw a 20% increase in profits overnight, and the team experienced a 30% reduction in the time they spent on documentation.
So, put simply: all the practice management features in StrataEMR come completely free alongside our billing/RCM platform and service. For almost any practice we work with, we see an improvement in reimbursement rate by at least 15% (actually, it’s often higher). This means your investment is guaranteed to pay off many times over.
What You Get From StrataEMR (and Why it Makes Sense)
We developed StrataEMR after first-hand experience of working in the billing department of an outpatient physical therapy practice. We noticed that many of the challenges that the practice faced boiled down to one big problem: we weren’t being reimbursed by insurers for PT treatments, and the battle to get paid was adding to an ever-increasing workload.
So we built a billing-first physical therapy software that does everything you’d expect from a best-in-class EMR system, with one primary goal: to facilitate a clean claims process.
In the end, you could say that StrataEMR pays you—because, typically, our customers see a 20-30% boost to their revenue as a result of using our platform.
How does that work, exactly? With StrataEMR, you get all this functionality for free:
Documentation (EMR). Effortless digital documentation, keeping all your medical records and patient information accurate, secure, and compliant. This is an EMR that integrates with every part of your practice, from patient intake to billing. All your data is in one place, with patient demographics and plans of care that are 100% compliant with payer rules and regulations. Clinicians can use preset templates to guarantee fast and accurate documentation for their assessments and treatments.
(Note: StrataEMR proactively warns clinicians if there are any documentation issues that may lead to denied or delayed insurer claims, flagging issues that need to be addressed in the system before reports get finalized and sent to payers.)
Patient intake. StrataEMR gives patients a personalized portal where they can complete and sign patient intake forms, fill in health questionnaires, and upload their insurance details. This data gets automatically populated in your EMR’s documentation system, and helps establish what we call the Billing Plan of Care; a unique feature that ensures you always get paid for the treatment you do.
Patient scheduling and engagement. StrataEMR’s patient portal makes it easy for patients to book, track, and pay for appointments, and its cancellation functionality and appointment reminders reduce no-shows and lost appointments by 35% or more. Automated balance notifications have increased patient collections for many practices by almost 50%, while also reducing unnecessary queries and calls to your office.
Workflows. A dashboard with clear lines of responsibility on tasks, and automatic alerts if tasks have gone uncompleted for too long. You can even set tasks to be trigger-based, meaning they cannot be marked complete until a specific action has been taken, e.g. a finalized plan of care has been uploaded to the system.(Note: These practice management features go a lot further, too. For example, you get a clinician-facing scheduling tool with a breakdown of their daily/weekly appointments, and mobile PTs can benefit from StrataEMR’s GPS routing and journey time estimates).
Analytics and performance metrics: The StrataEMR Clarity Panel gives you detailed analytics with real-time data covering financial data such accounts receivable (AR) and insurer payouts, appointment data such as no-shows and cancellations, and marketing data such as top referrers and best-performing campaigns.
The only thing that involves paying a fee is:
Billing and Revenue Cycle Management (RCM). Most EMR systems treat billing as an optional add-on, often charging separately for each EMR feature plus additional fees for their billing service (while only delivering 60-80% reimbursement rates). Worse, some don’t even try to tackle the challenge of insurer billing, meaning you still need to integrate a third-party tool to actually get paid. StrataEMR is different. We charge a small percentage on successful collections, but we help you reach a 99.999% reimbursement rate—so your practice always ends up better off than if you were stitching together multiple free tools. You get the platform you need to manage billing effortlessly—and you get a complete billing and RCM service, too. This means our team will personally chase every single claim, no matter how small. Nothing gets left on the table.
The Therapy Place saw an average 14% increase in net receivables in the 4 months after starting with StrataEMR, and the following quarter they were up 20% from the previous year.
With StrataEMR, you get a complete practice management platform designed specifically for PTs, and more importantly: it’s a platform that’s designed specifically to get PTs paid.
Our incentives are completely aligned because we only make money if you make money. Your increased revenue will mean you’re able to cover the small fee without any trouble.
How StrataEMR Saves Your Team Time
Not only does StrataEMR help you increase your reimbursement rates to above 99%, but you’ll also spend a lot less time on billing and documentation processes than you did before.
The key is simplicity. Here’s an overview of how your staff might work with StrataEMR:
As soon as the front desk enters the patient’s information into StrataEMR, the ‘getting paid process’ begins. The patient receives access to their personalized portal where they can make a copayment, answer questionnaires, and submit all of their patient intake forms. Once the front desk confirms the patient’s arrival to your clinic, the clinician takes over.
As the clinician records activities, exercises, and treatments, the system is already preparing the documentation for the insurer. All payer requirements are kept up-to-date in the system so the clinician can focus on the treatment, and StrataEMR alerts the PT to any conflicts or issues that might affect reimbursement (for example, if cryotherapy is not payable with a certain patient/insurer, or if a certain combination of treatments aren’t permitted). All of this happens in real-time.
Once the clinician saves the report, the system takes over and we make sure the claim is compliant and up-to-date. All you need to do is keep an eye out for the money to arrive in your account. In the rare case of a denial, we’ll chase the issue down for you.
And that’s it. No need to worry about incomplete or noncompliant paperwork, no need to fear audits, and no need for clinicians to remember CPT codes, combinations, or modifiers.
Plus, there’s no change to the process as your team grows. In fact, we work with practices that are handling millions of dollars in annual revenue with just one administrative employee.
Get Started with StrataEMR
Getting set up with StrataEMR is easy, and it’s handled with genuine care and expertise by our team. We manage the whole migration and setup process, and make sure you don’t suffer any downtime or disruption to your practice.
We also take care of training your entire team at no additional cost. Everyone can be up-to-speed within a few hours, and you can start boosting revenue and saving time right away. Schedule a free demo today, or contact our team if you have any questions.
What to Look For in an EMR for Physical Therapy. In this post, we explore the key features you need to look for if you’re selecting a physical therapy EMR. From the ability to securely store patient records and track patient progress, to billing, RCM, workflow automation, and online scheduling of patients—this guide explains it all. An EMR needs to streamline processes; it’s not only about electronic medical records.