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47. Private Practice Management Software with Beata Klarowska, M.S. CCC-SLP

Today’s episode is all about practice management software with Beata Klarowska, M.S. CCC-SLP. Beata is a speech and language pathologist who started working on practice management software and apps after listening to a professor speak about telehelth services in graduate school. Today, TheraPlatform has grown into a robust practice management and EMR software for SLPs, OTs, PTs and mental health providers. Its features include: scheduling, documenting, billing, secure video conferencing, teaching tools, reports and homework.

In this episode:
02:32 – Building a Speech Therapy Empire
03:05 – All-in-one practice management software platform
06:50 – Your own Business and Flexibility
09:40 – Telepractice software
10:59 – Specific Features
13:06 – Multi Modality Learning Approach
14:35 – Open Ended Built-in Tools
20:23 – Practice Management Features
22:15 – Additional Option
30:29 – Special Promo Code for PrivateSLP Listeners

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It kind of all started for me when I was in grad school, so we had to take a technology class and this class mainly focused on AEC devices. It also covered all over button of practice management and therapy software. And at some point and during this class our professor briefly mentioned that ASHA approved Tele practice and that one day we’ll be just doing therapy online. And so he really kind of planted this little seed in my brain and since that point I was doing a lot of research. I was taking CEO classes about a Telepractice. I did a lot of market research and I finally decided to build a Telepractice software.

[Commercial]

Well, Hello everyone you’re listening to the Speech Therapy Private Practice StartUp Podcast. This is episode number 47. My name is Kyle Meades and I’m a Speech Pathologist since 1993. And these podcasts are designed to help you improve your business and your life one Podcast at a time.

Welcome back to the show everyone. Thanks again for all the emails and all the questions and as of today, today is Sunday February 17th 2019. We have well over 45691 listeners to the show and I’m super glad you guys are out there getting good valuable information, and I said every single episode, “value is what you get in the absence of money”. And these podcasts are free for you so if you wouldn’t mind can you please go over to the iOS or Android platform of your choice and leave some good five star feedback. That way other people just like you can get the same valuable information that you’re receiving. Also if you are interested in joining in all access community where you can learn how to grow scale your Speech therapy Private Practice, look no further if you go to privateslp.com/coaching you’ll see some options there. I’m not really talking about working from home or just working on the side, I’m talking about a speech therapy empire. I’m talking about having employees, paying taxes and being independent. I’m not really talking and really trying to help people just have a few clients on the side or something like that. I’m talking about the real deal so if you want help you’ve come to the right place privateslp.com/coaching.

Now today we are talking to Beata Klarowska and she is a Speech and Language Pathologist and the Owner of TheraPlatform, and what she has done is created an all-in-one practice management software platform. Now TheraPlatform.com is a practice management EMR software for Speech Therapist, OTs, PTs and Mental health providers. Its features include scheduling, documenting, billing, secure video conferencing, teaching tools, reports, homework and more. So let’s take a listen to today’s interview.

And today we’re talking with Beata Klarowska and she is one of the co-founders of TheraPlatform and the Virtual speech center.

Kyle: Hey Beata, How are you today?

Beata: I’m good. How are you?

Kyle: Oh, I’m doing great. We’re in Tucson and we’re just enjoying the 65 degree weather. I think it’s a lot different from our listeners up in the Michigan area. I was speaking to a gentleman recently from the state of New York and he said it was freezing cold. Do you guys have the same problem there and on the west coast?

Beata: Not freezing cold. I’m in Los Angeles in Burbank area, so February was very nice for us. We got a lot of rain which we highly appreciate given that we had a really bad two years of dry season and the fires, which really appreciate the rain here in February and it looks nice. I enjoy it and I miss the Four Seasons so I’m definitely enjoying the rainy weather today and planning to have a pizza party with my boys. We have tent put out in our living room and after this podcast we will make our own Pizza and have Pizza party. So it’s been nice.

Kyle: Oh that’s great. I remember my son used to like to make tents out of the sheet, we’ll get the clothes, pans and I get the broom handle and make the Center for the tent. And then we would go to the camping store and we will get used camping equipment and we used for sleepovers he would have a sleeping bag in the tents and now everything is just dirt bikes, fortnight and YouTube. So those times are going for me. I miss those days.

Beata: Yeah it’s fun. I love it. My boys are young so they’re 3 and 5, and such a beautiful imaginary. So I’m definitely enjoying them and camping, cooking, pretend play every day. It’s definitely fun. But they grew up way too fast.

Kyle: What a great age and obviously your accent, you’re from Texas. Right? I’m just joking.

Beata: No

Kyle: Where’s that accent from?

Beata: What accent?

Kyle: Yeah right. What accent? We’ve got a group of speech pathologist listening in and I’m sure everyone’s trying to guess the accent it’s not New Zealand it’s not Australia, it’s definitely not Southern Texas or Louisiana, that’s for sure. Where are you from originally?

Beata: I was born in Poland. So I have Polish accent. Yeah, I usually have people telling me Oh maybe you’re from Russia maybe you’re from Germany. I actually had one person who thought I was from Texas so I was kind of interesting. My accent is Polish.

Kyle: Yeah. My other half. Her mother’s name is Timinsky so I know about the Polish. I know about that. I know perogies and all that good food.

Beata: Yeah. My mom is here too. She’s visiting us from Poland too. So she’s treating us perogies, kyompki and poarst, good polish food.

Kyle: Gotta have it in. You’ve got your two boys. Are you able to stay home with him now that you’ve got this new business or are you doing speech pathology work and working with your businesses. How do you do both of those careers?

Beata: Well I’ve been in speech pathology for over 11 years in an medical setting so when I started of my career I didn’t have any children. But after we launched our software company I did get some somehow from family and friends. But having your own business gives you this flexibility and I’m not running a private practice so it’s a little bit easier for me I can kind of arrange my own schedule to meet both needs – the company needs and my kids needs and then it gets easier. They’re growing and are going to preschool now. So I definitely have more time. My working hours are longer. I work five hours in the morning and I have a year break with my kids and I we play and then I work from 6 p.m. to midnight sometimes. But it’s nice to be your own boss and to kind of have this flexibility for sure. It’s not always easy to combine the two but you just do your best.

Kyle: So you mean you’re working five hours in the morning and like a local hospital or something like that and then working 6 to midnight.

Beata: For our company.

Kyle: Oh, So you’re not even practicing any longer.

Beata: I am still in the clinical wards. I go to the hospital just twice a month just to keep in touch. It’s hard for me to quit the clinical setting completely. I love both. I love technology and I’m very dedicated to our software company and again our field is so flexible so I’m really blessed that I can focus in our company full time and then still be in touch with our speech word. So it’s nice.

Kyle: Yeah that’s awesome. Yeah it’s great to be your own boss. I mean that’s one of the reasons I started my own Speech therapy private practice was just so I could have free time with my son. I mean unfortunately he was sick the other day. He was home Monday and Tuesday because of this god awful flu thing going around but I was able to just text the office manager and say, “Hey I’m working from home today” and he was in bed and it’s just a nice benefit to have when you’re your own boss. How did you get from the Speech therapy world with direct treatment for 11 years to just saying “Hey, I want to start Thera platform or the Virtual speech center”? How do you do that? Did you have help or did it hit you like a bolt of lightning one night when you’re going to sleep. I mean how had that happen?

Beata: Well it kind of all started for me when I was into the grad school, so we had to take a technology class and this class mainly focused on AEC devices. It also covered all over button of practice management and therapy software. And at some point and during this class our professor briefly mentioned that ASHA approved Telepractice and that one day we’ll be just doing therapy online. And so he really kind of planted this little seed in my brain and since that point I was doing a lot of research. I was taking CEO classes about a Telepractice. I did a lot of market research and I finally decided to build a Telepractice software. So in 2010 me and my partner we built a prototype video platform but technology back then was not there for what we wanted to accomplish. And the video conferencing technology back then was changing and moving away from all dirt to new technologies. And so we decided to put the video conferencing piece of our business on hold until technology matures a little bit more. So we started developing apps in 2011, which we planned to incorporate later on in our Telepractice software.

And when it comes to TheraPlatform we are just so blessed because over the few years we built a nice user base. We had a lot of SLPs using our apps at schools and private practice and so we had a lot of a SLPs who really helped us with launching TheraPlatform. We had over 300 SLPs who contacted us and they helped us of Beta testing of TheraPlatform. And we were just so overwhelmed with their response and we were just very thrilled. A lot of them were very thankful and appreciated. And they thanked us so we built something very specific for Telepractice and I spoke of a few of them on the phone and they told me I always wanted to implement Telepractice in my private practice but we didn’t have the tools and I met one SLP who told us that she tried to provide Telepractice in the past too. But she was unable to compete with larger companies because she didn’t have a platform built for Telepractice. She was competing with a general video platform but she wasn’t winning the bids. And so if you are listening to us now and if you did help us with launching Theraplatform and testing I just want to say thank you so much and we highly appreciate it.

So it was a team effort. I mean I have a really great team of Software engineers, graphic designers, customer support and also SLPs who were very helpful during this journey. So that’s how it’s kind of all started.

Kyle: That’s great. Yes, Speech therapist they’re just a great group of helping professionals and you hit something right on the head too, you said you have to have a team. And I wouldn’t be where I am today without my team and it sounds like you’ve got to have your team to survive. I just don’t see how you could do it all in one day really.

Beata: It takes a village. Thera platform is really comprehensive and very complex so you do have to have a team. You have to have a strong team to provide a reliable and nice platform. So I know my goal as a therapist was to empower SLPs of an open ended platform that would help them conduct therapy online. And before we launched our platform back in 2011 there was not a single platform for Telepractice that was built for Speech therapists. I mean there was Skype, but it wasn’t HIPPA compliant and the general video conferencing platforms were very limited. So my goal as a therapist was to build a software that is open ended and allows us therapists to apply Multi modality learning approach. When it comes to speech therapy I’m very eclectic and I know that we all are. We like to incorporate a little bit of everything when addressing a goal. So we made use flashcards, worksheets, books, toys and I think there’s eclectic approach really helps children to stay motivated and it speeds up the progress. And we all know that when we address these small goals we always keep in mind the big picture or the ultimate goal. So we know for example when we work on the sequencing we might pull up pictures so kids can put them in order but we don’t stop there because we all know that sequencing is not all about putting pictures in order. We need sequencing to tell a story, we need sequencing for life skills and executing functioning. So we made use pictures to address sequencing but then we can take it to the next level. Right? We can move to the more natural or real life activities like dressing up the doll or cooking with Plato and we made at the end ask the child to verbalize different steps of different activities.

So I really wanted to build a software that would help therapists to do what I just described to be eclectic and to be able to take the activity to the next level. And we achieved this by incorporating different teaching tools and AIDS in therapy platform. So we are not a general video conferencing platform. We do have a lot of building tools that you can utilize and they’re very open ended. So for example you can upload your own resources. So if you have PDF worksheets or handouts you can organize your own library and set up platform and then you can present these worksheets during life session or you can even the sign them for home practice too. But we also have built in whiteboard which has endless possibilities for us too. I mean you can type, draw, follow directions, and you can paint. We also incorporated our ups, so we have absolutely no target articulation, phonology, memory, problem solving, sequencing.

We also have in addition to our building apps, building games to motivate the kids, so we have like a basketball game or a dentist game which you can implement for therapy itself too. And we also allow our users to screen share so again our goal is to give you this open platform which you can utilize different resources like worksheets whiteboard apps and also whatever is available to you online through our screen sharing feature. And what makes us unique to is that the apps that we have in TheraPlatform they are interactive on both ends. So you’re not just mirroring our built-in apps. They’re interactive on your clients ends too. So they can touch the objects on the app they can manipulate the game on their end too. And our screen sharing feature is also unique because it’s two way. So it means that you the clinician can interact online playing a game and your client on his or her end as well too. So let’s say you have like online puzzle game that you like kids can play the online game in TheraPlatform and you’re going to see what they’re doing with their mouse too. So that’s why we did incorporate all of these tools to help you be eclectic and to be able to move the goals or activities through different levels and you might make it fun and very interesting to kids.

Kyle: Wow it sounds like you guys have it covered. You can use PDFs, apps and games and you get that built in whiteboards, screen shares and major corporations, schools and therapists using your Teletherapy platform right now?

Beata: So our clients base is very diverse. We are a multidisciplinary platform. We have solo therapists using it so we have Mental health providers, Speech occupational therapists, few doctors and they are all vary in sizes. We have Solo therapists, private practices and staffing agencies. We have quite a bit of university clinics who are using TheraPlatform to teach graduate students to be Teletherapists. And so it’s just a very rewarding experience for us to know that we are helping practitioners run their business smoothly. And also helping to build up the case a little bit more and to provide services to locations where Speech therapy wasn’t option because of the geographic location. So it’s just amazing and very rewarding to us to be part of those and TheraPlatform is a centralized platform. So if you’re now ready to provide Tele practice services yet you can still use our platform. I mean we have customers who are not there yet or they don’t even consider Tele practice services and they still use our platform to run their practice because we allow you to schedule both office and Telehealth visits. You can document in TheraPlatform on your online clients and your office clients too. So we have a lot of practice management tools built into it. So as I mentioned scheduling, appointment reminders, documentation, we have reports too so you can kind of view the progress of your clients or students in a graphical format. We have a built-in consent and intake forms which are interactive and you can send them via our secure client portal and then your clients can fill out your intake forms at home and submit it through our system and we are very flexible too. We offer a lot of built-in templates and intake forms but you can modify anything in our platform. So if you like our intake form but maybe you have some additional questions you can add to it. You can modify it according to your needs.

And we also have this very core builder that allows you to build pretty much anything you can build an old template with it, you can build an intake form with it. I know some of our customers use our builder to build questionnaires or surveys or screeners and you can build all sorts of different core resources of it too if you want and then share these with your clients. So it’s a very flexible tool to have for sure. And we also allow you to organize your resources too and there is homework section too. So even if you don’t have Tele practice services in your practice you could use our homework section to share your handouts or worksheets and then your clients will get an email notification that you did share resource with them they can securely log into our platform and download it and even print it out too. So a lot of nice comprehensive features not only for Tele practice but also for regular office practice if you will.

We have a few customers who are moving to our platform too because they used to have three different systems for everything. I met a few SLPs during ASHA convention and they had one software for scheduling and documentation, then they had to subscribe to another software for billing and now they’re looking for a video conferencing to add to the practice too. So they really liked the idea of having everything in one location and we also offer billing too. So you can collect credit card payments you can create invoices and send them to your clients. We have super bills and e-claim is coming soon too so we are a very centralized platform that’s very user friendly too. And we also have a few customers who are using our platform primarily for EMR and Practice management. But we do have this video conferencing built into it with no additional charge. It’s just for you to use in case you have a situation or a client can’t get to your office like last week we had a lot of sign ups from Seattle because they had a lot of snow and speech therapists were not planning to necessarily implement Tele practice services in their practice but because of snow their clients couldn’t get to their offices. So clients actually were calling SLPs asking, “Hey, do you offer video conferencing because I can’t get to you”. It’s very cold and it’s just overwhelming. So they were able to hop on and the online therapy and keep up the business. And I mean you may live in a state where you had some bad weather conditions every year and it will affect your business. So having those additional option bells into your practice management platform is a big bonus. And we don’t charge you extra for it. It’s just built into the Practice management software.

Kyle: That’s insane. This is a huge system. This is beyond telehealth. This is a complete Practice management system and Tele practice if you want that too. It sounds amazing. Now you were talking about invoices it sends out credit card invoices you can personalize your invoices. You were talking about super bills which is a big deal for billing insurances. Now you said you’ve got e-claims coming soon. You guys are working on that?

Beata: Yes, so we are working on that. We are integrating of clearing houses so sometime in spring you’ll be able to submit e-claims through the insurance companies too. That’s a big one and its coming soon.

Kyle: Yeah, absolutely when we first started I was using Office ally and practice made for our clearing house but recently we switched to a pretty large EMR system and we’re using just a massive clearing house and that stuff is not cheap but you have to have it. I mean primarily in our clinic we do private insurances in Medicaid and Medicare, so we’re constantly billing insurances. All of our computers are cabled into the Ethernet system, so we can get the fastest speed possible because we’re on these massive systems so we can get paid. And it’s just nonstop we have a complete billing and A.R. department that does all of our work but it’s very very important for practices if you want to stay in business you’ve got to get paid.

Beata: Yes.

Kyle: Do you guys notice from around the United States all these clinicians using your software, are people getting reimbursed through insurance companies when it comes to Tele health and Tele service?

Beata: It all depends on the state. Tele practice, the policies and regulations and insurance. It’s not a global thing. So it will vary from state to state but we definitely see a huge change in comparison to 2011. There are more states who did pass Tele health and Medicare doesn’t cover Tele practice for Speech therapy yet as of today. I know that mental health providers do get paid through Medicare but SLPs not yet. But it will change but more and more insurance companies they do pay for services. The best practice is to call. So if you have a client who’s reaching out and asking questions about Tele practice I would call the insurance company first. And another tip that I have if you call the insurance company and from a colleague that they do cover and someone tells you on the phone that we don’t. I would ask for a supervisor because it’s a new addition to health insurance too. And some of their representatives may not have the adequate information either. So if you can ask for the supervisor to get the valid answer but definitely pick up the phone and ask if they do cover.

Kyle: I know we have 38 employees in our private practice and right now I’m offering 100 percent health insurance for all of our full time employees and dental envision and things like that. I was reading through our policy we have to renew every February every calendar year. And I was going through our policy and there is Telehealth if they’ve got a call they can log in for free to the United HealthCare Website and talk to a nurse practitioner with no cost. And if you have a common cold or an infection then they’ll have that online meeting with you and send the prescription request to your local pharmacy for you all at no charge. So it’s changing I remember when I first started 26 years ago in this field. It was amazing how far computer technology has come in. Like you were saying even in 2011 it’s a huge shift from the online platforms and just the video software and the cameras. I’m looking right now my Logitech camera and it’s amazing the quality in the sound and there’s no buffering and there’s no lag anymore. I mean it’s just incredible.

Beata: And it’s not expensive either. You’ll have to invest a lot of money in nice headphones. I’m also actually wearing Logitech. Its like $20 but the quality is amazing.

Kyle: Yes it is. Do you find that like on your platform if you’ve got somebody using a P.C. in the clinic and the client’s got like an iPad or an iPhone? Is there any problems with communicating with two different platforms and different IOS systems or Android systems? Does it communicate just fine?

Beata: It communicates just fine because we are a web based platform so you can access our platform from anywhere. As long as you have access to internet and browser, you’re good to go. So it’s very easy and convenient.

Kyle: Gotcha. And it works on all the major browsers like the Chrome and Firefox.
Beata: Yes. I personally I recommend Google Chrome browser if you can only because it’s one of the fastest browser.

Kyle: Yeah, its quick. What’s the difference you’ve been talking about TheraPlatform and you also mentioned Virtual speech center at the beginning of the show. What is the virtual speech center website? Is that where the apps were at one point and everything is integrated or is it two different sites or how does that work?

Beata: So a Virtual speech center is our mother company if you will. So we developed over 40 iOS apps so you can purchase our apps on the App Store too. But we incorporated our apps in TheraPlatform as well. They’re not iOS apps in TheraPlatform we basically had to reprogram every single iOS that we developed but it simply built into TheraPlatform and ready for you to use.

Kyle: Got you. And if you’re paid member of TheraPlatform you have pretty much access to all the apps that were on the virtual speech center as well.

Beata: So we offer different plans with different pricing and features. So our Pro Plus plan includes practice management features and Telehealth. And this plan has our built-in apps and games. And now if you maybe work with adults or maybe you’re just a voice you may not even need our apps. We also offer a Pro Plan, so Pro plan has all the features that I mentioned except for our apps and games. And we also offer the enterprise account for larger companies. We have API and we can do some professional services too. But most SLPs they go with Pro Plus because they like the idea of apps and games.

Kyle: And when you have that Pro Plus plan, can you also just download as well to your devices.

Beata: So that’s a separate. So the apps are simply built into TheraPlatform and these apps have nothing to do of the apps or they’re just part of the platform. So if you want to download apps specifically just one app you would have to go to a Virtual Speech center. But if you do your online session and you have a kid for example who has iPad at home then they will have access to the app that we have in Pro Plus. But we also have clinicians they don’t provide Tele practice services, they still use the Pro plus because they can log in to the meeting in their office and they can have a child or students sit next to them in front of the desk and they can pull up our apps or pull up our whiteboard or pull up their own resources, so they use our tools not only for Tele practice but for office therapy too. So we could definitely utilize these apps even if you don’t do Tele practice.

Kyle: That’s great. Do you guys have anything special for our private SLPs listeners out there.

Beata: We do. Of course we do. So we’ll be more than happy to offer 50 percent off on our first month if you subscribe to TheraPlatform.

Kyle: And how would they get that subscription and then that discount.

Beata: So we did share a link with you so they can just go to this link and we included a Special promo codes so when you’re ready to subscribe you just enter this promo code to our coupon field.

Kyle: That’s awesome. Yeah, if you go to TheraPlatform.com/privateslp there will be a coupon at the bottom there and you can just simply click on the link there and you can get your discount. Beata, this is great. Thank you so much for being on the podcast. It is or anything else you’d like to share before we say goodbye.

Beata: Thank you so much for having me. And enjoy your Sunday.

Kyle: Thank you so much.

Beata: My pleasure. Thank you.

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