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[00:00:00] Hello everyone. Welcome to The Testing Psychologist podcast. I’m your host, Dr. Jeremy Sharp, licensed psychologist, group practice owner, and private practice coach.

Many of y’all know that I have been using TherapyNotes as our practice EHR for over 10 years now. I’ve looked at others and I keep coming back to TherapyNotes because they do it all. If you’re interested in an EHR for your practice, you can get two free months of TherapyNotes by going to thetestingpsychologist.com/therapynotes and enter the code “testing”.

This podcast is brought to you by PAR.

To determine if someone is feigning psychiatric illness, trust The Miller-Forensic Assessment of Symptoms Test (M-FAST). This 25-item screening interview helps you assess for malingering. Learn more at parinc.com\mfast.

Hello, y’all. Welcome back to The Testing Psychologist and to a business episode.

[00:01:00] Sometimes I look back and reflect on little moments over the years that made a big impact on our practice. Do you ever do this?

One of those moments was a relatively brief conversation a few years ago with my friend, Uriah Guilford from the Productive Therapist about scheduling intakes. This was almost a throwaway conversation, which is interesting to think about now because it’s made such a big impact on our practice.

He mentioned that his practice moved to a booking system for scheduling intake calls rather than trying to field all of the incoming live calls or instituting or using organic callbacks. We started experimenting with it and we have not looked back. So today I am sharing how we put it into place based on that conversation with Uriah.

Before we get to all that, if you’re a practice owner and you want some support, I would love to be a part of that journey. We could do group consulting, we could do individual consulting, but there are [00:02:00] resources out there to help build your testing practice. If that’s interesting to you, you can go to thetestingpsychologist.com/consulting and schedule a pre-consulting consultation to talk with me and we’ll figure out if it’s a good fit. And if it’s not, I will try to hook you up with whatever resources might be more helpful.

All right, let’s talk about this intake booking system.

Okay, folks, here we are. We’re going to dive into it right away. Did anybody read the title of this episode and get excited? I talk about phone tag a lot in my consulting sessions. And so this is a conversation that comes up frequently. It will be, I think a [00:03:00] short, but hopefully mighty episode.

Think about this. How many of you sit down at the end of your day and either:

1. Look at your voicemail and cry at the thought of returning all the voicemails; wondering when you’ll have time, feeling guilty that you missed another few referrals, promising yourself that you’re going to “hire an admin” only to say whatever that looks like under your breath or

2. Try to call people back but they don’t pick up because nobody picks up their phone anymore, then debate whether to leave a voicemail knowing that people are even less likely to listen to the voicemail than pick up their phones in the first place, and even if they did listen to the voicemail, the likelihood that they’ll call you back at a time you can pick up is super low.

That’s exhausting, right? 

Does that resonate with anyone?

Maybe you’re doing that right now. Maybe you’re [00:04:00] procrastinating phone calls because they’re exhausting and you just want to listen to a podcast.

Enter the screening call system. The screening call system can work in a group practice like ours, where we have 30+ clinicians, or a solo practice where you’re the only one answering the phones and returning calls.

To give you a sense of how well this has worked for our practice, we capture probably 70 to 80 leads in our practice each week in terms of booked screening calls. The actual incoming live phone calls to schedule an appointment with our receptionist are only probably 3 to 5 a day at this point. Of course, that’s at scale, but that’ll give you an idea of the percentage of calls that we are capturing with these booked screening calls. We still have a receptionist on staff to answer the incoming live calls and a few other random questions, but she’s largely freed up to do other tasks at this point, which is [00:05:00] great. It’s like we’ve gained an extra admin.

Here’s how this screening call system works.

Rather than letting people call into the practice whenever they want with the hope of booking an appointment and getting a live receptionist on the phone who will have the time to book that appointment, because honestly, until you get to a certain point who can afford a full-time receptionist to answer a call whenever it might come in, what you can do is change all of the calls to action on your website and elsewhere to say “book your screening call” or “book your intake call”. And that link, when people click on it, sends people directly to a calendar with your, here’s the kicker, predetermined and defined availability for these booking calls. It could be a Google calendar, Acuity, Calendly, your EHR’s booking system, or whatever it may be. There are plenty of systems out there that allow for creating [00:06:00] event slots and then letting people book into them.

The idea is that you have chosen consistent times each week, let’s say it’s 15:00 to 17:00 on Mondays and Wednesdays and 9:00 to 10:30 on Tuesdays and Thursdays, when you’re available and ready to do a brief intake screening call with potential clients. So people click the link, they go straight to your calendar, they can select the time that works best for them, and book directly onto your calendar for the screening call.

There you go. You have captured the lead by giving them the chance to book a “real appointment” which thereby increases the likelihood that they will stop calling around and trying to find another practice that will take them. You eliminate the missed calls, voicemails, and how do I find the time to call people back dilemma because you’ve set aside the time it’s on your schedule. If those calls don’t get filled, [00:07:00] boom, you’ve got extra time that you weren’t counting on, but it’s still reserved. It’ll also help give you a sense of the real number of quality leads that you’re getting because you’ll see the booked appointments rather than missed calls and wonder if those people were truly interested or good candidates or not.

Let’s take a break to hear from a featured partner.

Y’all know that I love TherapyNotes, but I am not the only one. They have a 4. 9 out of 5-star rating on trustpilot.com and Google, which makes them the number one rated Electronic Health Record system available for mental health folks today. They make billing, scheduling, note-taking, and telehealth all incredibly easy. They also offer custom forms that you can send through the portal. For all the prescribers out there, TherapyNotes is proudly offering ePrescribe as well. And maybe the most important thing for me is that they have live telephone support 7 days a [00:08:00] week. So you can actually talk to a real person in a timely manner.

If you’re trying to switch from another EHR, the transition is incredibly easy. They’ll import your demographic data free of charge. So you can get going right away. So if you’re curious or you want to switch or you need a new EHR, try TherapyNotes for two months, absolutely free. You can go to thetestingpsychologist.com/therapynotes and enter the code “testing.” Again, totally free. No strings attached. Check it out and see why everyone is switching to TherapyNotes.

Determining if a person is feigning psychiatric illness is critical in certain evaluations. It’s essential to have an instrument that you can trust and provides fast and reliable results. The Miller Forensic Assessment of Symptoms Test or M-FAST is a 25-item screening interview for adults that helps you assess the likelihood that an individual is malingering. Learn more at [00:09:00] parinc.com/mfast.

All right, let’s get back to the podcast.

So what are the downsides here?

If people are in a truly urgent state, this is not going to solve their problem. You’ll still get a few actual calls or emails. Something we found is that people also will occasionally think this is their real intake no matter what we say during the booking process, what text we put, what we have them read, or the warnings, sometimes people just don’t read or just don’t remember. So you have to make it as clear as you can during the booking process that this is a screening call to make sure that you’re going to be a good fit for an evaluation.

Now, this process also doesn’t address emails exactly. To help with that, you can change all the calls to action on your website to do a phone call. I’m a big fan of consolidating calls to action either way, but [00:10:00] this will help funnel people into these booking calls rather than sending emails.

And then on the backside, you can also create an email template for any incoming email leads that directs people to your booking link. And so you can respond with that template and get them into that booking link.

So, like I said, we have seen a lot of success with this approach. People seem to like it. If you want to get fancy, there are many options and scheduling software that will let you collect information from clients before they book this appointment. So you have an idea of what they’re looking for and their insurance and that kind of thing. It’s quite flexible, but I found it to be really helpful for solo practitioners who may not have the bandwidth for an admin person but still want to capture [00:11:00] those incoming leads in a predictable way.

 hope this has been helpful. If you put this into place, let me know how it goes. Shoot me an email to jeremy@thetestingpsychologist.com and share your story. Or if you have a different system that seems to work well, that’s not a live answer, I think we all know a live answer would be ideal for everyone, but if you have a different system, let me know. I’d love to hear about that as well.

All right, y’all. Thank you so much for tuning into this episode. Always grateful to have you here. I hope that you take away some information that you can implement in your practice and your life. Any resources that we mentioned during the episode will be listed in the show notes, so make sure to check those out.

If you like what you hear on the podcast, I would be so grateful if you left a review on iTunes or Spotify or wherever you listen to your podcasts.

If you’re a practice owner or aspiring practice owner, I’d invite [00:12:00] you to check out The Testing Psychologist mastermind groups. I have mastermind groups at every stage of practice development: Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced. We have homework, we have accountability, we have support, we have resources. These groups are amazing. We do a lot of work and a lot of connecting. If that sounds interesting to you, you can check out the details at thetestingpsychologist.com/consulting. You can sign up for a pre-group phone call and we will chat and figure out if a group could be a good fit for you. Thanks so much.

The information contained in this podcast and on The Testing Psychologist website is intended for informational and educational purposes only. [00:13:00] Nothing in this podcast or on the website is intended to be a substitute for professional, psychological, psychiatric, or medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Please note that no doctor-patient relationship is formed here and similarly, no supervisory or consultative relationship is formed between the host or guests of this podcast and the listeners of this podcast. If you need the qualified advice of any mental health practitioner or medical provider, please seek one in your area. Similarly, if you need supervision on clinical matters, please find a supervisor with expertise that fits your needs.

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