What You Need From Your Physical Therapy Practice Management Software

Author: Adam Peacock
Published: 

It’s a heck of a job to run a physical therapy office, and that’s why having the right practice management software is so helpful. But you’ll need to find a solution that can handle the complex, interrelated web of tasks that are highly specific to PT. These include:

  • Patient intake. It needs to be quick and easy to intake new patients with your PT practice, and to make sure they’re providing you with all the info you need to treat them—from demographics and insurance details, to consent forms.
  • Patient scheduling and engagement. Organizing appointments needs to be straightforward for everyone. Patients need to be reminded so they don’t miss sessions, and clinicians need to easily view schedules so they can manage workloads. 
  • EMR. Medical records need to be accurate, up-to-date, compliant, and secure. And your EMR system must include all of the practice management tools necessary to avoid errors, data mismatches, and double work. 
  • Billing and Revenue Cycle Management (RCM). A practice management solution needs to make sure you get paid for the work you do. Many PT billing solutions highlight how easy it is to customize and send invoices, but this is just a small part of the problem. Most PT practices are only being reimbursed by healthcare insurers for 60-80% of their treatments due to an ever-growing pile of denied, rejected, and delayed claims. (Note: With StrataEMR, you can get a 99.999% reimbursement rate.)
  • Workflows and team collaboration. Your team needs to be able to see their tasks, create and follow simple workflows, and collaborate with each other on daily work. 
  • Analytics. Practice management software should show you exactly what’s happening in your practice so you can spot inefficiencies and blockers. This is especially important when it comes to financial performance (e.g., your accounts receivable).

Once you start searching for practice management software, you’re faced with several options—all claiming to offer the ultimate ‘all-in-one’ solution. They all highlight the same features, but rarely do they share real-world data on the results they drive for PT clinics.

In this article, we’re going to look at the most important functions your practice management software needs to have, with a detailed breakdown of how our solution, StrataEMR, helps you manage your practice, including real-world data on the results you can expect. 

What options do you have for better managing your practice?

Physical Therapist and Patient in the Office

There are a couple of routes that PT practices tend to go down when it comes to physical therapy software and practice management:

1. Using a collection of different applications and plugins. An improvement on doing things manually, but using different tools for different purposes (e.g., one for billing, one for documentation, and one for patient engagement) poses its own risks and problems. Not only will you be paying for multiple tools, but they won’t speak to each other seamlessly—causing errors, duplicate information, and extra work. 

Note: We’ve spoken to many PT clinics using a physical therapy EMR system with a billing bolt-on; a widget, plugin, or integration with third-party billing services. Their EMR works fine for documentation, but the data isn’t being fed through to their billing system. This means the information needs to be re-entered manually or tweaked to be compliant with ever-changing health insurer rules, and they don’t have visibility into why certain claims are likely to be denied or delayed until it’s too late. 

2. Using a heavy-hitting EMR software or EHR platform. These are often packed full of features and functionality, but they’re built for large hospitals or for generic healthcare providers. Getting access to all the customizable modules you need is costly, and they tend to miss the nuances of what physical therapists actually need from their software—for example, keeping track of the certification period and remaining visits to meet your plan of care, or the authorized number of visits and CPT codes for your authorizations.

The best practice management software will be catered to the needs of your physical therapy practice, giving you everything you need without becoming bloated and unusable. 

This is where we introduce reimbursement rate of >99% while also enjoying smoother patient management, documentation, and workflows.

(As just one example, California-based PT practice Genesis Physical Therapy cut down its documentation time by 30% while growing profits by 20% with StrataEMR.)

How to run your entire practice with StrataEMR

We developed StrataEMR after having first-hand experience of managing a physical therapy practice. We noticed that existing practice management solutions contain a lot of shiny features, but less thought goes into how one function impacts another. 

For instance, most PT practice management platforms don’t include real-time Medicare eligibility to automatically identify active Part-A home health cases or Medicare replacement plans. Failing to identify these things prior to submitting claims will result in denials or retractions.

That’s why we decided to build StrataEMR as a billing-first solution for PT practices. All of our features work together to achieve the same goal—to get you paid. 

As just one example, generic task management software lets you track priority tasks and set reminders, but we recognized that PT billing is directly affected by hiccups, delays, and blockers in people’s daily processes. To combat this, we introduced:

  • Trigger-based tasks. These can only be marked as complete after a specific action has been taken (which you determine); for example, a Plan of Care has been updated and uploaded into the system. This prevents uncompleted work from causing problems further down the line—for example, payer non-compliance or incomplete claims getting sent to a payer.
  • Task age alerts. StrataEMR alerts you if your practice has tasks that are left incomplete for a certain period of time (again, you can determine the time frame). This lets you spot the bottlenecks and prevent work piling up. 

This single point of focus allows PT practices to operate more efficiently. As Sonia M, co-owner of Physical Therapy Doctors of Florida, says:

“Having a system that encompasses everything from scheduling to billing to patient intake to documentation has made our practice be more productive and it has made it a more well-rounded and complete business.”

The features you need for physical therapy practice management

Patient intake and engagement: Staying connected

Making everything easy and transparent keeps patients happy and connected. StrataEMR gives your patients a personalized portal where they can answer health questionnaires, upload documentation, and sign forms for privacy and consent. 

The patient portal makes the onboarding process incredibly smooth for everyone involved. 

Example of Client View: Consent and Policies, Benefits Confirmation, Patient Registration Form, Health Questionnaire
  • The intake process also feeds into the EMR. The questionnaire answers automatically populate answers in your documentation, saving you time later on. 
  • Once intake is completed, the portal makes it easy for them to track upcoming appointments, view a breakdown of their balance statements, and make secure online payments using their credit card. Clients tell us this feature boosts patient collections, as there’s less back-and-forth about where charges have come from.
  • It even feeds into your marketing, with automated patient engagement surveys that encourage patients to share their experience on Facebook and/or Google Reviews.
  • All of this feeds into the StrataEMR Clarity Panel, which gives you real-time financial reporting at a patient level. It shows you the status of each individual patient’s account alongside a dated play-by-play of treatments, charges, and payments. 
  • StrataEMR’s patient engagement functionality—e.g., electronic intake, appointment reminders, mobile bill pay, and patient satisfaction surveys—is designed to keep your patients connected to reduce no-shows and cancellations.

Keeping your schedule booked up

StrataEMR’s patient appointment scheduling functionality is designed to make sure your clinicians stay booked up and your appointments flow as smoothly as possible.

Mobile Agenda & Productivity Tracking
  • Patients can check in for their appointment from their mobile device, where they will appear in the virtual waiting room for the clinician to see. While they wait, they can access any intake forms that need to be completed before the appointment.
  • Therapists can view their daily agenda from any device, complete with estimated driving times and GPS navigation.
  • Our Electronic Visit Verification (EVV) captures your patients’ arrival and departure times, e-signature, and even their GPS coordinates to automatically verify the treatment location.
  • Our scheduling software is designed to minimize cancellations. Patients requesting a reschedule are asked for a reason, which facilitates reaching out to set up a new appointment. Clients find this function alone has reduced cancellations by at least 35%.

EMR: Taking the pain out of documentation and patient records

StrataEMR makes documentation efficient and pain-free. It integrates with patient onboarding and uses health questionnaires and registration forms to automatically populate patient report data. You can create and use document templates to save time on paperwork. 

  • StrataEMR automatically stays up-to-date with the latest insurer billing processes and creates guardrails to warn your clinicians if their report doesn’t match the default Billing Plan of Care (for instance, if they’re using deniable CPT codes).
  • You can create custom protocols that make sense for your practice and patients. For example, you can set up a default Billing Plan of Care at the insurer level that gets applied to all patients with that insurer, or add an extra layer of approval within your office before an insurance claim is submitted.
StrataEMR: Administrative and Billing Details

Transparent, efficient workflows

Our task management functionality is built to simplify and automate your workflows. Tasks are automatically sorted into administrative, billing and clinical buckets, with clear lines of responsibility and alerts on tasks that go uncompleted for too long.

  • The task manager is designed to keep tasks moving smoothly through your practice. The system uses trigger-based tasks to alert the relevant people as tasks reach certain stages. For example: once a ‘complete draft documentation’ task is marked complete, it automatically becomes a ‘faxing required’ task. Then, when it is sent to the clinician to be signed, it becomes a ‘pending signature’ task. 
  • You can manage all of your authorizations and plan of care management within the StrataEMR task manager. The system will automatically alert you when authorizations are about to expire or CPT codes are approved.
  • The system can alert you if a practice has too many uncompleted tasks, or tasks that have been at the same stage in the process for too long. Clear assignments show where things are getting delayed, and everyone can see practice performance. 

Simple, streamlined physical therapy billing processes

StrataEMR is built to facilitate clean claims, which is why we’re able to guarantee industry-leading reimbursement rates of >99%. (That’s well above the industry average of ~80%). And providing an incredibly simple billing process is key to this high number. 

With StrataEMR:

1. The billing process starts when the front desk enters the patient information into StrataEMR. The patient receives an email or SMS link they can use to upload their documentation before their appointment, and/or make a copayment. Once your front desk confirms the patient’s arrival, it’s time for the clinician to take over.

2. The clinician starts the appointment and records the treatment, activities, exercises and units in StrataEMR as they take the patient through their session. The system automatically flags potential reimbursement issues in real-time, for example when a combination of services cannot be included in the same insurance claim.

3. As soon as the clinician saves the report, StrataPT’s billing software takes over. We make sure the claim is completely accurate, up-to-date and compliant. If there are any rejections or denials (honestly, that’s rare), we’ll chase them down for you.

It’s that simple. No need to stay on top of codes or modifiers. Effortless. 

StrataEMR’s billing ledger keeps a timeline of everything that happens with a claim, and our analytics give you a complete view of your revenue breakdown—all the way from the insurer level right down to the individual patient and CPT code.

In-depth analytics

Financial Metrics: Billed Visits and Billed Units, Billed Dollars, Average Units Per Visit, Insurance Payments, and Patient Payments

StrataEMR’s analytics provide insight into how your practice is performing, highlighting the sources of waste and inefficiency that are holding you back. You get:

  • Financial data, such as accounts receivable (AR), billed visits, units, and dollars, average units per visit, insurance and patient payments, average payment per visit, and much more. You can also dig deeper—for example, to see how certain CPT code combinations are affecting your reimbursements.
  • Patient scheduling data, such as the number of no-shows and cancellations, as well as evaluations and discharges. You can dig into these numbers to spot patterns and streamline things at an organizational, staff member, or patient level.
  • Marketing metrics, including breakdowns of your top referrers and campaigns. You can use this data to double-down on the smartest tactics for growing your business.

A note on StrataPT’s customer support

One of the things we often hear from customers who join from different software providers is the poor customer service they’ve experienced. In some cases, queries about rejected or delayed insurance claims would go unanswered for three weeks or more because teams are stretched too thin and choose to prioritize the high-ticket cases.

We take a different approach. You’ll get a dedicated account manager who serves as your point of contact for all queries. Our average response time through secure messaging in StrataEMR is just 22 minutes. 

We also handle the whole migration process, with zero downtime for your practice. Plus, we’ll train your team for free and get everyone up to speed within hours. 

Schedule your free demo today.