The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) set forth exacting, stringent requirements for the healthcare industry. Every day, hundreds of thousands of healthcare professionals must maintain strict compliance with HIPAA or risk severe consequences. The law’s requirements cover both physical and digital actions.
Any reputable practice management solution provider knows the requirements and ensures its software meets HIPAA criteria. Since compliance is an industry standard, when it comes time for you to choose a practice management solution, how do you decide which one is best?
It’s important to weigh the pros and cons of each practice management solution’s feature set. In this post, we compare two such solutions — TherapyNotes vs SimplePractice — with insights from Nicole Lecherza-Drew, PsyD., a licensed psychologist and owner of Vici Psychological Care.
Lecherza-Drew has used both tools extensively for scheduling appointments, taking patient notes, and handling other tasks, giving her a valuable perspective on this topic.
She used TherapyNotes as an intern for about two years. When she earned her license and started her own practice, she turned to SimplePractice. After about a year and a half, she switched back to TherapyNotes.
Read on for her take on TherapyNotes vs SimplePractice.
“TherapyNotes is incredibly user-friendly,” says Lecherza-Drew. The system’s broad range of features doesn’t impede its usability. She reports that the learning curve is quite reasonable for this kind of system, as running a mental health practice can be quite complex.
She also mentions that user reminders are helpful to her practice. Even though she has staff members who provide operational assistance, there’s still a chance that some to-do items will fall through the cracks. “Reminders nudge me to update a treatment plan or prompt a staff member to follow up with a patient who’s yet to sign an important form,” Lecherza-Drew says.
“It’s easy to write patient notes, given how the system structures and sets them up,” she says. This isn’t surprising given the name of the platform. In fact, she appreciated the setup so much, she recreated it when she used SimplePractice.
“One significant downfall of TherapyNotes is its lack of customization,” says Lecherza-Drew. For example, you can’t update your weekly availability starting on a future date; the system only allows updates going forward from the day you change it.
Also, patient reminders are limited to the default settings. You can’t change the message or timing — email and text reminders are sent 48 hours and 24 hours prior to an appointment, respectively. That’s a problem since patients must cancel 48 hours in advance per her policy.
“I have to expend additional effort to ensure patients understand and agree to the policy if they opt into text reminders,” Lecherza-Drew says.
She also calls out the limited patient communication capabilities on the platform. While you can share documents easily enough, there’s no way to directly message patients. “That seems strange for a solution that offers a patient portal,” she says.
“SimplePractice’s customizability was the main reason I chose it over TherapyNotes when I first started my practice,” Lecherza-Drew explains. Not only can you customize progress notes, you can also tailor reminders and forms to suit your practice’s needs.
The messaging capability is another feature that meets her needs. She and her staff often need to interact with patients to answer treatment questions, follow up on billing concerns, and address other matters. “It’s more convenient to do so within the platform instead of relying on email,” she says.
Lecherza-Drew’s main gripe about SimplePractice is its poor telehealth/teletherapy feature. It’s what drove her back to TherapyNotes. She would frequently get disconnected and experience bad call quality, which impacted both patient satisfaction and operational efficiency.
Patients would be frustrated with the call experience, and she had to add more time between appointments to allow for technical difficulties, resulting in fewer patient sessions per day.
“I also don’t like the lack of customer service because I sometimes need workarounds for software bugs or directions on how to accomplish a task,” she explains. In lieu of a traditional phone number or email, SimplePractice would direct users to its Facebook group to post questions for the customer service team. However, this is a practice that may have changed after she switched platforms.
TherapyNotes vs SimplePractice: The final verdict
While Lacherza-Drew plans on continuing to use TherapyNotes, she’s not fully satisfied. Neither TherapyNotes nor SimplePractice meet all of her needs in areas that are essential to her practice. As for which solution you should use, consider how the above pros and cons will impact your practice and decide whether one of these platforms could work for you.