Tools I Use – Series Intro
As a practice owner, you wear multiple hats. Without extra help, you alone are the CEO, billing manager, intake coordinator, PR professional, blogger, social media manager, and… well, the therapist. And it can be quite difficult to manage all those hats without something falling through the cracks.
Luckily, there are a number of technologies that exist that can help us wear those hats well. As a tech junkie myself, I’m always interested in trying out new tools that might make my life and business easier. From practice management and documentation software, to payment gateways, e-course software, scheduling, social media management tools, I’ve tried them all.
In this series I’ll be taking some of the work of finding those tools off of you, by showing you the ins and outs and features of tools I use in my own practice. For programs that interface with our client data, I’ll point out HIPAA compliant tools that were created with private practice professionals in mind.
Note that in some – but not all – posts, I will use affiliate links, which will provide a financial gift to me for referring you to that service at no cost to you. Does that make me biased? Perhaps. However, I’m already biased in that these are services I love and use regularly myself. I’ll do my best to show you why you’ll love them, too.
Acuity Scheduling – HIPAA Compliant Online Scheduling*
$34/month (Free non-HIPAA plan available)
If you’ve ever had your own therapy, you’ll know that scheduling that first intake session can be daunting for our clients. By the time they’ve reached your website, they may have gone through several months of trying to find the right therapist, leaving endless messages that don’t get returned. So one way you can provide a sense of relief to your clients is by providing a way for them to set up their first appointment with you, instantly. No back and forth phone calls. No weeks of waiting to get a callback just to go on your waitlist. Providing an online scheduling option makes you’re clients’ first step to start counseling with you simple.
I’ve tried pretty much every scheduling software there is at this point, including SetMore and the scheduling feature in my client portal software. The features in Acuity*, which include a lot of flexibility, are unmatched in any other software I’ve found at this point. And it’s simple to use. Take a look inside:
Features I Love
Intake Form – One of the biggest frustrations I have with most other scheduling softwares is that they don’t include a way to screen clients. It’s important to me that if I am giving clients a way to easily schedule an intake session, that they are still the right fit for my practice. With Acuity, you can add a few screening questions to the scheduling form, so that if a client signs up who is not quite the right fit, you can then call or email to discuss before confirming the appointment. In my scheduling form, I include a few brief “scheduling questions” on my niche, the referral source, payment preferences, and whether or not the time they are scheduling is a time they are typically available each week, etc. I love this feature and would never think of using a scheduler without it.
Two Way Calendar Sync – The last feature of Acuity I cannot live without is its two way schedule sync. Acuity looks at the block of time I’ve set as available, and then goes into my schedule to make sure I am actually available at that time. So, if in the middle of a therapy session I schedule a session in my google calendar with that client, that slot will instantly no longer be available in the Acuity calendar. If my church bible study group adds a meeting to our shared google calendar, that time is also blocked off. I love that I do not have to adjust the calendar when I have other work or personal events happening at the same time. Note that this is a paid feature.
Flexible Scheduling – Most scheduling programs give you an option to set a block of time you are available. But as a parent who often has school meetings and doctor’s appointments, it’s invaluable to be able to easily change my availability from week to week. Acuity allows you to set your weekly schedule, but you can also quickly change any single day’s availability on the fly if you, say, happen to have an opening on a week you don’t normally, or need to block off day so you can get paperwork done.
Acuity Features List
There are many other features of Acuity as well, almost too many to list! Here are a few of the features of the paid plans that might be most relevant to your practice:
- Client self-scheduling
- Text Message Notifications
- Unlimited Services & Appointments
- Customizable Scheduling Pages
- Customizable Email Notifications
- Two Way Calendar Sync (Google, iCloud, Outlook, and others)
- Group/Class Sign Ups
- BAA/HIPAA Agreements (Powerhouse Plan)
The two features that are missing from Acuity that I wish they had are: ` The ability to embed the calendar into my website A smartphone app. The scheduling page they do provide is customizable, so I use colors and fonts that match my website, and then link to the page with a link that opens in a new tab. To embed it on your own, you’d need to know HTML. I am also able to do without a smartphone app by saving a link to the website on my phone’s home screen, but that only works for some smartphones. I wouldn’t be surprised however, if these features get added later, since their team is always updating with new features.
WHAT’S MISSING UPDATE: Not too long after I wrote this post, Acuity reached out to me personally to let me know they had new features on the way. We can embed calendars easily, and there is a smartphone app. I now can’t think anything this software is missing. Thank you, Acuity!
Overall Impressions & Cost
Overall, I love acuity as it has been the most flexible plan for my needs. It’s fully customizable, syncs both ways with my schedule, and allows me to screen clients in a way that keeps my system moving. I have yet to find a program that is as flexible and easy to use.
Acuity has a free plan that can be used by solo professionals. However, if you want to be HIPAA compliant, you’ll want to choose the Powerhouse plan, at $34/mo. That may seem steep, but it pays for itself when client who would otherwise pass schedule with you online. Not sure if you’ll like it? You can use the 14 day free trial*, and stay on the free solo plan until you’re sure. Ready to check it out? Sign up today!
*this post uses affiliate links as mentioned above. Prefer not to use an affiliate link? Try this link instead: https://acuityscheduling.com