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Energizing Your iPad or Tablet for Your Mental Health Practice

The trend toward transforming iPads and tablets into major business tools is on the rise.  Since the release of the first generation iPad in 2010, users have been streaming videos and watching movies, listening to music, keeping up with global news, relaxing with a good book, surfing the web, connecting with friends on social media, catching up on email, and mobile gaming. Now, with the proliferation of Applications, or "apps" available, professionals are beginning to realize the value of integrating iPads and tablets into the business side of your mental health practice. 

Here are a few tips on ways to use an iPad or tablet to help streamline, and modernize, your practice:

Engergize Your iPad for Mental Health Practice1. Waiting Room Intake:  Have your clients complete your web-based Intake eForms on a tablet in your waiting room using instead of a paper intake package.  By having your clients complete electronic Intake Forms, you can decrease your office file cabinet space, or avoid having to scan and upload these PHI files to a HIPAA-compliant storage source.

2.  Wireless Printing:  A wireless printer gives you the freedom of printing directly from your iPad or tablet using Airprint and Googleprint.  Look for a printer that is Airprint or Cloudprint ready.

3.  Dragon Dictation for iPad:  Dragon lets you dictate your notes, which you can then paste into any application by using the cipboard. 

4.  Second Computer Monitor:  You can wirelessly "plug in" your iPad or Android tablet using the Air Display app ($9.99) to increase the effective size of your monitor. Having more than one computer monitor increases productivity, and considering the limited amount of time that therapists have between clients, it is essential to maximize the volume of work completed during any available downtime.

5.  Use a Keyboard:  If your tablet is going to play a major role on your practice, consider adding a keyboard to help simplify your typing tasks.  If you are satisfied with the on-screen keyboard on the tablet, this may just be all you need, but most tablet-users who have transitioned to keyboards cannot imagine life without it.

6.  Practice Management Software Designed for a Mental Health Practice:  Manage your calendar, automated client appointment reminders, digital intake forms, client's electronic records, client billing, credit card processing, and a Client Portal within a single HIPAA-compliant, web-based system.

7.  Type Notes Directly into iPad or Tablet:  If you are using Practice Management Software, avoid the added step of writing notes on paper and instead use your iPad or tablet to type your session notes directly into the system. 

8.  Use a Notepad App + Handwriting Recognition Software:  Want a more traditional feel of handwriting notes on paper instead of typing notes in front of your client?  Apps like Notes Plus ($10.99) allow you take notes with a stylus pen on a digital notepad, convert them to text, then copy/paste the text into your Practice Management system.  WritePad ($9.99) will convert your text directly to input into your relevant software.

9.  HootSuite:  Manage all of your practice's social media marketing all in one place.  HootSuite is a free app that helps you monitor and update your Facebook and Twitter accounts in the same place, without leaving the app.

10.  Cloud Computing Service:  We've mentioned DropBox before as a great tool for storage and maintaining a paperless practice for large files that do not contain Protected Health Information (PHI).  Free services, like DropBox, Google Drive, iCloud, and SkyDrive, can also assist you with document editing, at the office or on the go.  Log in from anywhere and access your most recent work-in-progress.

11.  Email:  Rather than using your slow-booting PC to monitor email, access your email almost instantly by having it automatically delivered to your iPad or tablet.

With everything you can accomplish on a tablet, you may question whether or not to ditch your computer altogether.  Put your iPad or tablet to the test using these tips.  You might decide to get rid of your laptop or desktop after all.



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