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5 Tech and Software Basics for your Physical Therapy Practice

Tame your physical therapy technology and software

“Blargh!#!@ This thing isn’t working!” Ever hear that muttered in your PT practice? Technology is a great thing but it is very frustrating when things just aren’t working right. There are some proactive steps and decisions you can take to keep things working and productivity humming. You’ll also find that with some simple things, you’ll find that your security and HIPAA compliance stance will improve.

Keep everything updated

Updates are a good thing, a really good thing. Software companies of all kinds are releasing new versions. Of course, it’s awesome to get new features but updated versions can also come with patches and fixes that can improve stability and security and that’s really what you need. There are a couple of key things you need to keep updated:

1) Your operating system (e.g. Windows updates, Mac updates, iPad updates, etc) – most companies like Microsoft release updates on a monthly basis. Others like Apple, release updates when they are ready (can be more erratic). It can be tempting to snooze updates and push it off for later. Avoid the urge! Get them done! The easiest way to handle this is by using automatic updates so that your computer updates overnight and you can come back in the morning and just get right to work.

2) Your web browser – keep it up to date! Most browsers can automatically download updates and install them when you close the browser. Make sure that your browser does this!

3) Your EMR – if you’re using a web based EMR like MWTherapy, you may not need to do anything. We take care of all updates and upgrades on our end overnight when everyone is sleeping so you always have the latest version. If you have a server based EMR or otherwise, make sure you install updates as they become available

Absolutely no ink jet printers

Inkjet printers are a real bummer. They’re often cheap to buy but they really are not great for physical therapy practices because ink is expensive and they are very slow to print. Ink jet printers have a little head that moves back and forth to place the ink on the paper. They may be helpful for printing at home but in an office environment, you need something better and faster.

Go with a laser jet printer. A laser jet printer may be a little bit more expensive to buy upfront but the ink cartridges are a less expensive to replace per page. They also print substantially faster. Some laser printers can even print duplex (meaning on both sides of the page) which can save you paper.

Just say no to ink-jet printers!

Invest in good monitors for your front desk and billing staff

From our experience, physical therapists and assistants really like mobility that laptops and tablets offer but those in your practice that perform front desk, billing, and back office functions are different. These staff often sit at fixed desks with fixed workstations and can really benefit from more screen real estate. Screen width is also key for viewing big schedules and other data.

Many modern computers can accept multiple monitors out the box. For short money, you may be able to add an additional monitor to your front-desk staff. It’s worth the investment and you’ll be amazed at how this can increase your staff’s efficiency and morale.

Backups, backups, backups

There’s a saying that if data doesn’t exist in 2 places then it doesn’t exist. Any data that you are storing needs to be backed up. It’s really important that you back up this data automatically. If you’re relying on a manual process to back up data, it will eventually be missed and the way things seem to work, it may be at the worst time.

2 key considerations:

1) You can back up to an external hard-drive at your practice and that is a good option to back up data. On the other hand, you need to make sure that you protect this hard-drive physically and digitally. You might consider locking it into a safe.

2) If you choose to back up online, make sure that you’re keeping track of HIPAA. Not all online backup services are HIPAA compliant.

Use strong passwords

Passwords are one of the simplest but most important parts of basic security. Most systems enforce some level of minimum password complexity but you should always aim to exceed those minimums and avoid using overly simple passwords. One way you can achieve this is to think about a pattern on your keyboard and use that to remember. Here’s an example:

Here’s an example where a Z could be used to create a random password. You could do it in reverse, too. It’s more random but also something you can remember, add on some numbers and symbols like the top right and you’ve got a great combination. It’s also good practice to change passwords frequently.

The bottom line

Keeping it simple and keeping at it with low-hanging fruit is the best way to keep your tech and software under control. It doesn’t hurt to use a web based system. MWTherapy can help you reduce and eliminate hassles on password rotation, HIPAA compliance, backups and more.

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