Guide to HIPAA Compliant Scheduling & Calendars
Learn how HIPAA compliant scheduling like Healthie can organize your calendar. Find out how to send HIPAA compliant appointment reminders.
If you’ve recently transitioned your wellness business to a virtual practice, then you may find that your workflows and schedule need adjusting. The way that you previously organized your office, and your schedule, may not meet the needs for virtual care. And unless your wellness practice uses an office assistant specifically to manage a schedule, you’re likely maintaining your own workday and calendar.
Sorting through your availability, appointment requests, client rescheduling, and cancellation requests take up a significant amount of time in administrative work. As you toggle between a work schedule, and personal schedule(s), clients get lost in the shuffle and scheduling errors occur.
In this article, we’re sharing best practices for organizing your telehealth schedule. From how to structure your workflows to how to structure your day, this guide will help you efficiently organize telesessions and implement a new efficient strategy that will work for your virtual wellness business.
1. Add your calendar to your practice website for online client booking
Embedding your calendar into your website or landing page creates a clear and professional portal for wellness clients to self-book an appointment. Research shows that people increasingly prefer to book their healthcare appointments online. Adding the ability to schedule on your website will increase the likelihood that prospective wellness clients will schedule with you. It eliminates the “in-between” steps of calling or emailing.
Allowing existing and new clients to quickly book an appointment with your office independently not only provides the convenience they are seeking but saves your office resources.
2. Sync your work and personal calendars
For anyone, managing multiple calendars that don’t speak to each other is a quick way to cause business inefficiencies. Syncing your different calendars will help you to streamline your operations, prevent appointments from being booked when you are unavailable, and make it easy to see your schedule in one place.
Depending on your preferred calendaring tools, and devices, there are different approaches you can take towards consolidating your calendars. It’s also important to keep HIPAA-compliance
in mind so that any private client information (like their name) is not shared on non-compliant (or shared) calendars. For your calendar to be HIPAA-compliant, you must have a signed BAA in place with the calendar provider.
Tip: To sign a BAA with Google/GSuite follow the instructions in this link.
For this reason, choosing a HIPAA-compliant scheduling tool like Healthie allows you to centralize your calendars while maintaining client privacy. Healthie syncs with Google Cal, iCal, and Outlook. You can learn more about Healthie’s Calendar and sync options here.
3. Group wellness counseling appointments together on your calendar
While working with clients virtually gives you flexibility in your schedule, it can also quickly lead to scattered appointments throughout the day. Having clients booked with large gaps between sessions can require you to bounce between tasks, significantly impacting your productivity. To help manage your schedule more efficiently, try creating clusters of times for which you see patients.
Some virtual wellness providers even go as far as organizing their schedule based on their appointment types. For example, you may find that you want to schedule all discovery calls for first thing in the morning, and then see all new clients in the afternoon. This strategy allows you to switch gears from “sales” to “counseling” with ease.
Tip: Giving clients the option for a free discovery call will allow both you and them to see if they are the right fit for your practice. Additionally, you can give clients an introduction to telehealth and how your ability to provide nutrition care will be elevated with the introduction of technology.
If you conduct both in-person and virtual appointments, it is important to set aside certain times just for each type of appointment. For example, if you see clients at your office during the day, you could see clients virtually at night when you need to be at home with your family. Or, vice versa – only have office space at night? Offer telehealth sessions during the day. This will help keep you focused and streamlined, and not jumping back and forth between the computer and face-to-face communication.
4. Block off weekly time for administrative work
When working virtually, it is just as important to block off time to focus on administrative tasks that are integral to the functioning of your wellness business. Appointments are easy to check off your list because they are a set commitment to another person. As for your to-do list, make it a commitment to yourself to make sure it gets done. Carving out specific blocks of time for client-follow up, charting, and tracking insurance claims, will ensure that nothing slips through the cracks
Tip: Within Healthie, you can keep track of your to-do’s with our Tasks feature. Prioritize what needs to get done first, associate certain tasks with clients, and assign to-dos to other members of your organization.
5. Send email and text appointment reminders
One of the main reasons you’ll find that clients no-show to their wellness appointments is simply, they forgot. Even if your client had good intentions of attending, no-shows cost you time and money. This can be especially infuriating with new clients who had initial appointments scheduled, and you’ve set a significant amount of time aside to see them.
Your no-show and late cancellation rates can be easily improved simply by sending out appointment reminders.
Automated appointment reminders can be sent by using a client scheduling tool with appointment reminder capabilities. Healthie’s calendar feature allows nutrition and wellness professionals to customize appointment reminders for their practice. Choose if you’d like clients to receive appointment reminders via email and/or text message, and select how frequently you’d like reminders to be sent. Clients also have the ability to confirm their appointments, which helps providers know that a new (or follow-up) client will be attending their session.
6. Utilize a HIPAA-Compliant EHR and telehealth platform
Staying HIPAA-compliant while transitioning to telehealth is extremely important. Before taking a leap into telehealth nutrition appointments, make sure your intended method of communication is HIPAA-compliant. This will ensure your client’s private health information remains secure.
Popular telehealth methods, such as Facetime, Skype, text messages, and many more are not HIPAA-compliant and could leave your client’s private health information vulnerable. You must create a Business Associates Agreement (BAA) with the third-party communication service provider to require that they uphold HIPAA compliance within their own secure system.
Tip: Healthie’s EHR and telehealth platform is HIPAA-compliant, and for members, a BAA can be accessed here.
7. Have a telehealth cancellation policy and stick to it
While telehealth appointments are a great strategy for reducing client cancellations, it doesn’t mean that cancellations will stop altogether. Communicating a cancellation policy with your clients reinforces the fact that your time is valuable. Allowing clients to cancel at their convenience leads to lost revenue. Over time, last-minute cancellations add up and can cost you a significant amount of time and revenue.
Apart from saving time and money, having a cancellation policy in place will increase client accountability. Making consistent wellness changes is difficult, and when clients find themselves struggling, they often look to back out of their sessions. However, it is important for their health and wellness progress that clients keep their sessions so you can work through the challenges and establish next steps. With a cancellation policy in place, clients will find themselves attending their sessions even if they are feeling hesitant about coming.
Above all, be sure to enforce your cancellation policy. If a client has signed your cancellation policy and has failed to give the proper notice (ie. 24 hours in advance) then you have the right to enforce your policy.
8. Bundle telehealth services into a package to increase value
For wellness professionals, there are typically two ways to market your services to clients: either a-la-carte (i.e. a one-time wellness consult) or bundled into a client package (i.e. a 3-month counseling package). Although both pricing models can be successful, building out client packages can serve as a more profitable strategy in the long-term.
Generally speaking, if a client books a one-time visit, they can only achieve so much change in your one interaction. However, a package of visits will allow clients to make real strides towards change. Purchasing a client package is an investment in their health, and provides them the timing, accountability, and resources to achieve their long-term wellness goals. By committing to a package, your client will be less likely to miss their appointments — and the onus will be on you as their wellness provider to allow any reschedules for missed appointments.
Building a telehealth package for clients to purchase will also help keep your schedule full. Packages that include multiple follow-ups will ensure that a session is always on the calendar.
Sample telehealth wellness package:
- 1 initial session – 60 minutes
- 5 follow-up sessions – 30 minutes each
- Weekly food journal reviews + progress check-ins
- Between appointment chat support
How Healthie Supports Scheduling your Telehealth Sessions
Healthie’s Calendar was designed specifically to meet the needs, nuances, and special considerations needed for a health and wellness business — allowing you to centralize your calendar and enable clients to book appointments online. Whether you’re an individual provider or large group practice, your calendar can be customized to easily meet your business needs.
Tying directly into Healthie’s Telehealth feature, you can determine how each appointment can be conducted: in-person, via phone, and/or via video call. Clients receive automated appointment reminders, including the link to their video call which they can launch directly from their Healthie client portal or the Healthie app.
Automate core elements of your business workflow with Healthie’s calendar, including:
- Embed your calendar into your website for easy online client booking.
- Customize your appointment types including telehealth calls + discovery calls.
- Automatic and customizable appointment reminders (via email and/or text).
- Allow clients to book, reschedule and/or cancel appointments online.
- Create recurring appointments.
- Link appointments to packages for secure payment processing.
- Access your calendar from desktop and the Healthie mobile app + sync with your other calendars.
Make more time to grow your business
Use a platform that automates the administrative, so you can focus on growth and care.
Stay Updated with Healthie
Sign-up to our newsletter.