Modern Therapist’s Consumer Guide on SimplePractice
Curt and Katie talk with Howard Spector, CEO and Diana Stepner, VP of Product for SimplePractice. We look at how SimplePractice has been envisioned, the company values, and the details of the product, so you can decide if SimplePractice is the Practice Management System for your private practice.
This is the Modern Therapist Consumer Guide, a series of special episodes to help modern therapists navigate products and services specifically designed for therapists and their clients. We dig deeply into the companies, the people, and the products and services so you can make smart decisions in building your practice and serving your clients.
Click here to scroll to the podcast transcript.
Interview with Howard Spector, CEO and Diana Stepner, VP of Product, SimplePractice
Howard is the CEO and Co-founder of SimplePractice. Howard has over 20 years of experience in the information technology industry. He is proud to have earned his MA in Counseling Psychology with an emphasis in Depth Psychology at Pacifica Graduate Institute.
Diana joined SimplePractice from Pearson where she was the VP of Innovative Learning Solutions, a portfolio of products that provide value anytime, anywhere for learners by increasing confidence & outcomes associated with a specific learning activity or skill. Previously Diana headed up Future Technologies and Innovation Partnerships at Pearson. She also worked in Emerging Media at Razorfish and User Experience at Salesforce.com. In addition, Diana led Product Management in Western Europe for Monster Worldwide. She has a MIMS from UC Berkeley and an MBA from Boston University. When not doing Product, Diana can be found exercising, listening to podcasts, nutrition / health / wellness, and travel (someday). She lives in San Francisco with her husband and attack puppy.
In this episode we talk about:
Interview with Howard Spector, CEO, SimplePractice
- 2:12: How did the vision for SimplePractice (SP) come into being?
- 4:17: What is the trajectory for SimplePractice?
- 6:25: How does SP take in feedback and remain true to their principles and values from which it began?
- 9:12: What is SP’s response to feedback about customer service?
- 15:31: How does the team atmosphere and culture play out for customers?
- 19:41: How does SimplePractice support Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion?
- 22:12: What is in the future for SP?
- 23:18: What is Howard most proud for about SP?
- 25:10: What does Howard want everyone considering SP for their practice management system need to know?
Interview with Diana Stepner, VP of Product, SimplePractice
- 26:32: What does it look like when someone signs up for SimplePractice?
- 28:54: What are the strongest elements of SimplePractice?
- 30:24: What are SP’s paperwork customization features?
- 34:04: What is the professional website feature?
- 35:07: What is Monarch?
- 38:01 What are some areas SimplePractice is looking to improve?
- 40:17: How has SP taken suggestions from the community and incorporated them into SimplePractice?
- 41:56: Who is SimplePractice NOT right for?
- 44:35: What is coming up next for SimplePractice’s development?
- 45:54: How do you sign up for SimplePractice? (includes information on our special offer)
- 46:19: How would you recommend people investigating if SimplePractice is a good fit for them?
Curt and Katie Chat – Our review of SimplePractice
- 47:31: Who would we recommend SimplePractice for?
- 52:05: Who we think would not be a good match for SimplePractice
- 53:19: Our recommendations and the special considerations for using SimplePractice to get the maximum benefit
SimplePractice Special Offer:
Running a private practice is rewarding, but it can also be demanding. SimplePractice changes that. This practice management solution helps you focus on what’s most important—your clients—by simplifying the business side of private practice like billing, scheduling, and even marketing.
More than 100,000 professionals use SimplePractice —the leading EHR platform for private practitioners everywhere – to power telehealth sessions, schedule appointments, file insurance claims, communicate with clients, and so much more—all on one HIPAA-compliant platform.
Get your first 2 months of SimplePractice for the price of one when you sign up for an account today. This exclusive offer is valid for new customers only.
Go to http://www.simplepractice.com/therapyreimagined to learn more.
*Please note that Therapy Reimagined is a paid affiliate of SimplePractice and will receive a little bit of money in our pockets if you sign up using the above link.
Connect with us!
Our consultation services:
Who we are:
Curt Widhalm is in private practice in the Los Angeles area. He is the cofounder of the Therapy Reimagined conference, an Adjunct Professor at Pepperdine University and CSUN, a former Subject Matter Expert for the California Board of Behavioral Sciences, former CFO of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, and a loving husband and father. He is 1/2 great person, 1/2 provocateur, and 1/2 geek, in that order. He dabbles in the dark art of making “dad jokes” and usually has a half-empty cup of coffee somewhere nearby. Learn more at: http://www.curtwidhalm.com
Katie Vernoy is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, coach, and consultant supporting leaders, visionaries, executives, and helping professionals to create sustainable careers. Katie, with Curt, has developed workshops and a conference, Therapy Reimagined, to support therapists navigating through the modern challenges of this profession. Katie is also a former President of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists. In her spare time, Katie is secretly siphoning off Curt’s youthful energy, so that she can take over the world. Learn more at: http://www.katievernoy.com
A Quick Note:
Our opinions are our own. We are only speaking for ourselves – except when we speak for each other, or over each other. We’re working on it.
Our guests are also only speaking for themselves and have their own opinions. We aren’t trying to take their voice, and no one speaks for us either. Mostly because they don’t want to, but hey.
Stay in Touch:
Voice Over by DW McCann https://www.facebook.com/McCannDW/
Music by Crystal Grooms Mangano http://www.crystalmangano.com/
Full Transcript (autogenerated):
Curt Widhalm 00:01
This is the Modern Therapist’s Consumer Guide, a series of special episodes to help modern therapists navigate products and services specifically designed for therapists and their clients.
Katie Vernoy 00:11
We dig deeply into the companies, the people, and the products and services so you can make smart decisions in building your practice and serving your clients.
You’re listening to the Modern Therapist’s Survival Guide, where therapists live, breathe, and practice as human beings. To support you as a whole person and a therapist, here are your hosts, Curt Widhalm and Katie Vernoy.
Curt Widhalm 00:37
Hey, Modern Therapists, I’m Curt Widhalm with my co host, Katie Vernoy. And this first episode of the Modern Therapist’s Consumer Guide is on SimplePractice. Simple practice is an all in one practice management system. And this episode is for modern therapists who would like to know more about this company, and or who are researching electronic health records and practice management systems.
Katie Vernoy 01:00
We have a ton of good information on simple practice in this episode, feel free to listen to our interviews as well as our review at the end. Or if you have specific questions, check out the show notes where we’re going to have timestamps, so that you can get specific pieces of information for whatever decision that you’re making. You can also check out the show notes on our resources page for a special offer from simple practice to our listeners.
Curt Widhalm 01:24
We’re gonna be joined today by Howard Spector, the CEO of SimplePractice, and he’s going to be discussing the vision for where they’ve been, where they started, and where they’re going to go. And we’re also going to spend some time to discuss some of the features of their system. Take a listen. We are joined by SimplePractice, founder and CEO, Howard Spector. And this is such a phenomenal company, having seen it be able to grow, I remember back when you were coming around to little neighborhood therapist meetings, and just really starting to bring out the idea of what simple practice can be and what it was going to be. But can you tell us how your vision for simple practice came into being?
Howard Spector 02:16
Yeah, well, first, thanks for having me. It’s always great talking with both of you. I do remember those meetings, they were local CAMFT, Chapter meetings, and I would get up in the morning and, you know, get all of our marketing stuff. And it was, you know, I look back on that kind of fondly, like where it started what I had to do to get this business going. But anyway, was the question again? how did how did the idea for simple practice come into being? Okay? So, the short answer is that I went back to graduate school later in my career, to become a therapist, and I went through the, you know, I don’t know why people know, the whole story of I invented this product called TrackYourHours to track all my training hours. And that did pretty well. And when I was almost done with all of my training, I started looking at practice management products, because I wanted to find something that I can use to run my practice. And, you know, at the time, there just really wasn’t something out there that I felt really connected to, that would really serve my needs and how I wanted to run my business. So that really was plant the planting of the seed where I thought maybe I could build something that would be more in line with how I want to work. And that idea just kind of rattled around in my unconscious for a while. And then one day, it just kind of came out and hit me like, Okay, I think I know how I want to build this. And I partnered up with someone who was more on the technology side of things, and we just started, you know, wireframing the product out and figuring out how we wanted it to work, and just sort of building it. So it was really one of those things where the motivation behind starting this business wasn’t because I thought, Oh, I want to build a business and make a lot of money or make money. It was really, I just needed a product that I could use for myself. And I thought about a lot of the people that I did training with, and went to school with, and I just to me it was like, Well, how can I build something that they would really like and enjoy it as well and make it easy for them to run their practices. So that was really the beginning of this whole journey.
Katie Vernoy 04:16
And it started with some I’m assuming pretty basic and has grown into a all in one product. Talk a little bit about what the trajectory is what what simple practice is right now?
Howard Spector 04:28
Well, I’ll tell you where it just really briefly where it started and how it started. So I made a lot of really, I made a lot of assumptions, You know what they say about assumptions. You have to start with something and my initial idea for this was we’re going to build a practice management system, very simple for solo practitioners only. And for folks that only take cash or don’t take insurance basically. So no groups, no insurance. And so we built that and we launched That. And we very quickly realized a couple things. One was, that was a mistake. Because there was a lot of folks that really, that were that had group practices, whether that just means two people or more, that really liked what we had built and wanted to be able to use it and couldn’t. And the other thing was, there were a lot of people that were taking insurance. And they, you know, didn’t like the fact that we couldn’t process that through our, our platform, our product. So what happened was, we launched it, we got some customers, it was great. And we started getting feedback immediately. And so we basically, I was so naive, I thought, I will launch this, and we’ll be on our way. But what it really happened was, you know, we’re eight years into, you know, continuing to develop this platform, it’s nonstop, you know, there’s always new things to do. When you first arrive first thought about it, I thought, well, you know, scheduling, billing and payments, how hard can that be? But what I really realized as like, you know, as a mirror to life, right? There’s, it’s all about the nuance, it’s all about those details. And, you know, you don’t really know a lot of those things until you start embarking on that journey. And, again, we started getting more feedback, we started learning more things about how people worked and what they wanted. And then you need this, you need that. So it really has, it’s been a constant journey of development since 2012, when we first started the company.
Curt Widhalm 06:24
And you’re getting that kind of feedback, and growing and managing an ever growing team, as you add on things like the insurance, billing, and even new divisions like simple practice learning. How do you take that feedback yet and stay true to your principles and values from where you started?
Howard Spector 06:46
First and foremost, you know, I want to please everybody, which is the recipe for success from the you know, I mean, you hear someone they want something, you want to add it, because if you don’t, they’re gonna be mad, and I don’t want to have people mad at me, right. So there’s a lot of, you know, therapy sessions, you can tie into all this, for me, just figuring out how to create boundaries and stuff. But we, you know, we have a very vocal customer base. And that’s a great thing. I mean, cuz companies would, like, really, they really want that. But it’s hard also, because people are pretty relentless. But we’re here to serve them. And we’re here, you know, people pay us a monthly fee, because our job is to continue to iterate on this all the time and evolve our product for them, not just, hey, we deliver a static product, and we’re done. But keep paying us anyway. So we get a lot of feedback through a lot of different channels, you know, we have a Facebook community page, which is, you know, gets a lot of, you know, activity, we have another whole community forum area, we have through our customer success team, you know, there’s a lot of feedback that comes into them. And so there’s, there’s a lot of inbound information that then. And we look at all of it, and we have a user voice, it’s a product that allows people to post ideas they have they want to see in the product, and other people can vote on those things. So as you get feature requests, or things that have a lot of votes to them, you know, those can you start looking at those more seriously. And you want to be able to do everything, but you can’t, and that what part of the challenge is explaining to people why you can’t do something, what they say is, well, it’s just a button, just add this button, you know, what they realize is there’s a whole complex, it’s like, talking with someone that’s got, you know, some serious, you know, challenges in their life. And you’re saying, well, just, you know, go start running, you know, that’ll fix it, or whatever. So to solve it. Yeah. So there’s, you know, it’s hard, because, again, we’re here to serve people, and they don’t want to hear excuses. And we don’t want to give them excuses. But the reality is, we want everybody to be happy. And we want to give everyone what they want. It’s just impossible to do. And if we built everything that everyone asked for our product would be an absolute mess. So it really is a matter of us really looking at the requests that are coming in through all these different channels, and deciding, you know, which ones are the most urgent, right? And then also which ones are going to have the greatest impact for the most people. And that’s, again, I’m simplifying the process. But that’s so some way that we go about, like going through all the the incoming feedback and figuring out what to do or what not to do.
Katie Vernoy 09:12
One of the specific pieces of feedback that seems to plague simple practice is this idea that there’s not solid customer service. And we’ve actually talked about this before when you came on to the podcast previously. And we can link to that in the notes here. So people can learn about your kind of business prowess there. But there’s certainly feedback on customer service. So I’d love to have you address that. And there’s also other types of feedback that comes through you. I think you use the word relentless. What are your responses to those? Because I think that there’s the cific things that seem to keep being kind of a thorn in simple practices side, especially around customer service.
Howard Spector 09:55
Well, so I’m not sure it’s hard for me to answer that because I would be more specific information because then you simply don’t have solid customer service. Because I’m what I think about is, we have, like, we have these things called CSAT scores, or customer satisfaction scores that are collected by when people do get support, they’re allowed to rate the support, our cset scores are consistently in the mid 90th percentile, which is pretty remarkable. And that, you know, that is consistent over time, even during when the COVID pandemic started, and we saw a massive increase in the amount of people that were signing up, we maintain the scores, we also have what we call NPS scores. So people get these emails or messages from us, that basically say, hey, how likely are you to recommend simple practice to a friend and it’s on a scale of like, one to 10. And it’s like, it’s, it’s a, it’s broken up into, like, you know, I think seven to 10 are promoters, and people that will promote civil practice, etc. So, our NPS scores are also like in the 60s and 70s, which is remarkable. For any kind of business. I mean, those are massively high scores, because the scoring goes to like negative 100, to 100. So there’s always going to be a time where people aren’t happy with certain things, and what happens typically, especially on Facebook, which is why I deleted my facebook account, you get, you know, it’s like the squeaky wheel, you get one person out there that’s unhappy with something, and then you get the whole barrage of people kind of, you know, tail tailing on that thing, and then it escalates into this whole shitshow of complaints against something. And most of the time, there’s, the complaints are based upon erroneous information, you know, or limited information. And I think that is important for what I would love to be able to tell everyone is like, you know, we’re here for you, it’s like, our intention is to, like, do good and help you and do the right thing. And so many times, it’s really fascinating to me, and it makes me angry, just on a human level that people default to the negative, like, what are they trying to do? And why aren’t they doing this and like, like, we’re out to get them in some way, which is completely opposite of what we’re all trying to do. So I know that there’s, we can always do better in everything, you know, personally and professionally. Believe me, I my focus is like I’m the worrier. And chief here, I look at all the things that we can do better, with customer success, which is what we call our group not support, we call it customer success. I think the biggest issues that have come up that I’ve been aware of are these talks about the ability to have phone support. Yeah. And to me, that’s a recurring thing that comes up. And there’s again, this this erroneous narrative, it’s perpetuated from some of our competitors, that we don’t have phone support, which is not true, we do have phone support, it’s just it’s not 24, seven on demand inbound support, it’s something where you make an appointment, someone on our team will get on a video share with you or like, you know, screenshare, whatever they need to help you with what you need to do. And I know it sounds defensive, but it’s not. It’s the reality, like if we went and if we provide phone support, and I think we will provide it at some point, we’re looking at some things right now, we want to make sure it’s a good experience. Some of our competitors provide phone support, but we call those lines and you sit on hold, saying you have it just to say you have it is not how we want to operate our business, we want to have integrity around what we do, not implying they don’t, I’m just talking about us, we want to have integrity around what we do. If we provide something like phone support, for example, we want it to be a really good experience. And for the low price point of which we charge for simple practice. It’s unrealistic to think that we can support 10s of 1000s of customers with on demand 24, seven inbound phone support. It’s just unsustainable, in some ways, but again, we’re looking into things right now, hopefully, we can provide something in addition to make an appointment at a time that’s convenient for you. And somebody will work with you directly to help you out. We also have chat, that happens a lot. So you don’t you’re not on the phone. But you can live chat with people and a whole bunch of other ways that we do support. So I think our support, it’s one of the most proud things I am about our company. I’ve worked a lot of companies in my life. And customer success or customer support in most businesses is usually this cost, you know, this cost center that’s relegated to the back room. It’s this part of the company that is an afterthought for a lot of people. And I never thought that way about it for this for this business. Because, you know, our customers are the most important thing. So, you know, we’ve really been intentional, you know, mindful, thoughtful about that team, that that group on our team, and who we hire, you know, how they work what they do. That’s something that I believe we have a world class customer success team, despite the fact that people are going to be annoyed at sometimes that’s just the nature of business and it’s going to happen, but it’s an unbelievable group of people. I wish that I could let people that are complaining about things no, like, each one of these people’s an individual that comes to work every day, like, deeply cares about the mission that we’re on the work that we’re doing to support our customers. It’s hard sometimes to see the shit that they take from people that are frustrated. But what I tell them is, hey, look, a lot of our customers are they work solo, you know, their job is to kind of be a container for their clients. And they’re holding a lot. And like, sometimes we’re just in the line of fire for to help them kind of unload some stuff.
Curt Widhalm 15:31
One of the things that Katie and I have, we’re both simple practice users in our practices and have been for quite a while. We’ve obviously known Howard for quite a while we’ve known several of his staff for several years, and we’ve developed some of those personal relationships to actually see some of your employees on that more personal level. For those of us who aren’t Katie and I, you really do create this warm, welcoming space, and as your company has evolved, you’re so really able to keep that personal touch going, how does that team atmosphere really play out for the customers that makes it to where it’s a really integrated flow from you as a very personal CEO, out to the solo therapists that’s, you know, maybe in the middle of nowhere, who’s able to still feel that care and comfort.
Howard Spector 16:29
I think that we’ve worked very hard here. And we always do. And it’s a nonstop ongoing process to create a great culture. And a lot of companies talk, like they use the culture word. They say, yeah, we have a great culture. But what does it mean? You know? And do you really and how, how committed to it, are you we spent a lot of time talking about culture, we have a whole culture and values deck that we require people to read while they’re interviewing with us to understand so they can understand what is it like to work here? Like, what are our what are our culture and values. And these aren’t things that are just written on a piece of paper. And I think that’s one of the things that differentiates us, at least in my experience, and other companies that I’ve worked out. It’s, we believe in all this stuff, we update this culture and values deck, you know, we, because some things we realize maybe weren’t communicated the right way or something’s wrong, whatever. It’s an iterative, ongoing, document, the living document. And I think I really believe that because we care so deeply about the culture here, to provide a place for people to work that is supportive and collaborative, and human, you know, that, that just ends up translating to our customers. It’s amazing to watch, like, how, like, during the pandemic, when everything first hit, and we got slammed, how people stepped up to help each other. They want to cry right now. It’s like, it’s like, there’s such a sense of camaraderie and helpful collaboration with the people at this company. And it’s just who they are. And so that, to me, that just gets translated to everything we do. And part of my job is to make sure that as we grow, you know, it’s a slippery slope, once you start letting one thing slide, you’re done. Right? Yeah. So it’s, it’s like an ongoing process of hyper vigilance, I say, it’s like, you’re just making sure that even down to the language in some cases, like how we talk, how we talk with one another, like what we do and how we think about, you know, our marketing materials, and what are we trying to say, it’s showing our customers, the people here, and being able to say, when you are part of our community, when you’re, you know, we using simple practice, you’ve got all these people that work at this company that are working for you, you know, that’s a pretty cool message that I love that image, it’s like, Look, while you’re sleeping, while you’re doing something else, we’re working to help make your life better through through how you manage your practice. And I totally believe that it’s in the DNA of this company. And you know, when you have, I think, when you really believe that and you really act on that on an ongoing moment by moment basis, you know, it translates out and it filters out to our customers.
Katie Vernoy 19:14
I think that’s so important. I know that in times when I’ve worked in other organizations that did not have that type of clarity on culture, or the culture was really toxic. I think that does translate out to clients customers, like I think it it’s hard for that not to be kind of transmitted along and and I really appreciate that. And I like the thoughtfulness with how you’ve put that together. One of the values that that Curt and I have infused into our business and our work is is in looking at the team and looking at how you put things together and the thoughtfulness that you’re describing. There’s diversity, equity and inclusion. And so narrowing a little bit into that specific arena, how do you support diversity, equity inclusion throughout simple practice?
Howard Spector 20:05
I’ve always been very proud of you know, if you go to our team page and look at our team page, you’re gonna see a wide variety of people, we’ve got an amazing mix of people here. And I’m incredibly proud of that. It’s not by overt, like, we didn’t go out and say, we’ve got to go do this. It’s just, you hire great people, and great people come from all different backgrounds and experiences. So I’ve, it’s always been just that, yeah, just be open to any any anyone who’s a good person, regardless of all those other things. And I think that when the whole George Floyd thing happened, which I know that that was just one representative moment in a much, much larger, longer, you know, thing, but I don’t mean to minimize it by using that word, you know, that really raised the conversation in the company. And there were people in the company who were actually newer in the company, who were, who actually came in during the pandemic, so they really hadn’t been acculturated in the way other people had. They said that we need to do more, you know, there weren’t enough, you know, Black people in the company. And we could do better. And my answer is like, Okay, well, yeah, of course, we can always do better, you know, how, let’s talk about the specifics that we can do around that. So for example, that one of the things that I thought about was, you know, are we looking for candidates in places in different places? Like, where, where do we post jobs? What kind of recruiters do we work with? How do we basically improve the diversity of the candidates that we’re getting, so the pool that we’re at, basically, choosing from is more more diverse. So there’s things like that, and there’s more that we’re working on internally, as a company to make sure that we’re really paying attention to these things, I guess, less unconsciously and more like, consciously. But, you know, again, to me, it’s like, I’ve just always felt like we’re very open and inclusive company, and we want to hire really great people. And it doesn’t matter the color of your skin or anything, it’s just come work here with a bunch of great people.
Curt Widhalm 22:12
We’ve seen simple practice, grow. Where is simple practice going from here, what’s in the future for simple practice?
Howard Spector 22:20
There’s actually some things right now that have gotten me incredibly excited, and almost re energized for the business, because of the next evolution of what we’re doing. And how we’re supporting our customers, there’s some really important things we’re going to be rolling out that are going to help people with their practices. But aside from that, there’s constant work that needs to happen to the existing, you know, the platform the way it is, I think there’s a lot of what I call product debt that we’ve developed over the years, that we’re in the process right now of, you know, our workflows, as intuitive as they can be. Not all of them are, you know, there’s some things in the product that are confusing the people that we know about, you know, at some point, you look back, you sit back, and you’re like, wow, you know, that’s, that’s getting a little crazy, we got to we got to, we got to come back and, and, and reorder some of these things in the settings area, and stuff like that. So we’re investing a lot of time right now in that, in addition to just adding new things, and some other things as well.
Katie Vernoy 23:18
What are you most proud of?
Howard Spector 23:20
I think I’m most proud of the culture and the company that we’ve created here, just again, to watch how the people here work, how they work with each other, how they support each other, how much they’re bought into the mission of our business, which is to support, you know, health and wellness professionals, that most proud of that, when I see you, we have a meeting every Friday with a whole company, and different folks from different groups in the company present things that they’re working on, or things that they’re doing. And I just stand back kind of in awe of watching all these amazing people digging so deeply into the work that they’re doing to try to make everything better for our customers. That is, it’s an unbelievable, because in the beginning, it was just me and me and Ralph, you know, it’s like me and Ralph and Fletcher, and then me, Ralph, and you know, Jessica, then me, Ralph, Fletcher, Jessica, and Will, you know, so it’s really, it’s been amazing to watch the evolution of the business. And now we’re at 100. And I think 70 or 180 people in this company, which is unbelievable to me. And watch how deeply everybody cares not just about one another, but about our customers. That’s the most proud of. And also, I think just on top of that is, you know, when I sit back and I think about the clinicians of professionals out there that are using simple practice, and what they’re dealing with on a daily basis, and they were there hopefully to help them and in our small way, do the work that they’re doing, which is, you know, healing the world kind of one patient client at a time. That’s a pretty awesome, pretty awesome thing to think about in terms of you know, we’ve built This platform that helps people do that work, or run the business so they can do the work that they’re doing. That’s pretty awesome to me to think about that.
Katie Vernoy 25:09
So what do you want everyone considering simple practice for their practice management needs… What do you want them to know?
Howard Spector 25:17
We’re a group of with people that are very dedicated to the success of our customers, you know, and to support them, and to build out products and services, to help them do the work that they do. We do our best to do that. And I would just to be honest, because I feel like I have to be honest and say that, like our platform isn’t for everybody. There’s a lot of choices out there, which is, I think, a good thing. And I think that I always encourage people to try ours, try some other ones. And really ask yourself, you know, which one of these Am I going to want to spend time with to build my business? Hopefully, you know, we’ll find that simple practices, the right fit. Not always. And that’s cool. You know, we work very hard for our customers all the time. And we have an amazing team of people that are here support everybody.
Katie Vernoy 26:06
Switching gears a little bit, let’s dive deeply into the specific features of simple practice.
Curt Widhalm 26:12
And we are joined by Diana Stepner and she is the Vice President of Product at SimplePractice. And thank you for joining us and sharing some of the cool things that you’ve got going on over there. Yeah, really excited to be here. Thank you very much for having me on the podcast.
Katie Vernoy 26:28
Yeah. So excited to have you here. So the first question that I want to dive into, because I think there’s a lot of, there’s probably a lot of folks that are looking for their practice management system, their electronic health record, like they’re, they’re just getting started. And so if we could get an overview, like the benefits and options included in the simple practice, practice management system, kind of the basics, as well as the upgrades that would be helpful, just so folks have a base idea of what are we looking at when somebody signs on to simple practice?
Diana Stepner 27:04
Great. Yeah, so our entry level product, our basic product is called essential, we have an amazing calculator that’s on the simple practice comm slash pricing site. So folks can get a great understanding of you know, what’s included, and the configurations that go from there. It’s awesome in regards to all the features that a solo clinician would need. And so it’s got online payment, it has free appointment reminders, it’s got diagnosis and treatment plans, it has unlimited clients, there’s a client portal, there’s paperless intake, and all of that is, you know, focused on helping the clinician be as successful as they possibly can be, and not have to worry about all the backend operational aspects that simple practice powers. We also have upgrades. So we know people are very interested in telehealth. So that is an upgrade that’s available to you can also add on Wiley planners, if that’s of interest to people. And then the professional website is available, as is monarch, which is our new marketplace that launched recently. And then for folks that are looking for, you know, multiple clinician access or additional capabilities, we have a further plan, which is called professional, it’s there for those who want to, you know, have more capabilities available for them or have a larger practice more clients that they’re seeing already. And in all cases, you know, the focus of simple practice is to enable the clinicians throughout their career. And so we also have offerings, you know, that align with the pre licensed clinicians, and all the way through to ongoing education and areas that they want to explore just to keep their their learning on par, for example, through SimplePractice Learning,
Curt Widhalm 28:53
What are the strongest elements of the simple practice platform, how you really stand out compared to the rest of the crowd?
Diana Stepner 29:01
And it’s actually what brought me to simple practice, I mean, simple practice is designed very thoroughly. And the focus has always been on giving customers the ability to work in their own workflows, and not be stuck in one set process. So to truly be the best that they can be. And it’s fully integrated. So the capabilities are all available in one simple practice offering. It’s HIPAA compliant from the telehealth opportunity to which is an amazing advantage. And then when it comes down to features, we’re really strong on the features the client portal with secure messaging, as well as paperless intake and online booking. And the ability to manage multiple clients and their care through one single log on. So we think all of that in an integrated experience really makes it beneficial and stands out from for clients who are seeking an opportunity that fits with them. The other pieces we offer free appointments and appointment reminders As we know, clinicians appreciate the convenience of the appointment reminders, especially when they’re starting their practice.
Katie Vernoy 30:06
I know that appointment reminders definitely helped me with my attendance. Right. So I think that’s great that that’s included. I think sometimes there’s, there’s opportunities for organizations or platforms to kind of nickel and dime folks. And so having it all integrated, is really nice. One of my favorite things on simple practices, that paperwork customization, I use that all over the place. Can you tell us a little bit about paperwork? customization?
Diana Stepner 30:34
Yeah, I’m really excited that you like that. That’s a great feature. And yeah, so it allows the clinician to be able to incorporate more elements about their practice to be able to stand out. And it really helps them again, adopt the paperwork to their workflow, as opposed to have to rethink how they’re used to running their practice or want to run their practice.
Katie Vernoy 30:56
Yeah, there’s both documents that you have within that people can edit. And you can also import your own documents. And then the thing that I think also stands out, maybe this isn’t paperwork customization, but I’ve created a checkbox progress note, and I can design different custom progress notes, and it makes my paperwork much much quicker.
Diana Stepner 31:16
That’s wonderful. Yeah, that’s awesome to hear. And yeah, besides the paperwork, customization, which we know you guys are a fan of, there’s also the comprehensive billing, you know, especially the insurance billing, that includes payment reports, as well as secondary claims, which is amazing. And then yeah, the streamlined client care also stands out, you know, the client portal, having all the capabilities which reflect and help people have that more polished online presence. So gets everybody started and looking good. And then yeah, just being able to take your practice on the go. I mean, we know people may not be going out as much as they used to, but people will always want to have their mobile device with them be able to go back and forth between the desktop and the mobile experience, which is where simple practice stands out with mobile apps for iOS, as well as Android. And then yeah, the online booking is a really a good feature that a lot of people rave about too. And having the initial screener in or, you know, using that as an initial screener interview just helps people be able to move to a paperless process.
Curt Widhalm 32:17
One of the things that I really like is the whole calendar system, both clients being able to book sessions, but also the two way integration that it has with other calendar programs. And I use this in in a few different ways, I give parents a little bit less, or a little bit shorter opportunities to speak with me on my calendar than having them book out full sessions, and I’ll be needing to talk for 10 or 15 minutes. And I love that my personal calendars can help block out some of those sessions if I’m not able to get into the app too. But I’m sure that I am not even doing this part of it justice.
Katie Vernoy 32:57
I was thinking Kurt, are you actually using all of that cuz I, I have a doubt that you’re using all of those things. I love the calendar. But I also, I just wanted when you were talking about kind of the mobile app, I have clients who are doing the telehealth with a mobile app. And then I also I was going to take a selfie, I might have to do this, but like I was out and about ready for my walk and talk session. And I got to the meeting spot early. And I was able to review my note on my phone, I didn’t have to like plan ahead or any of that kind of stuff. So I think there is definitely a utility that I think a lot of other platforms don’t have if they don’t have an app.
Diana Stepner 33:39
Yeah, that, again, is the benefit of bringing all the pieces together in one place. And that provides more control for the commission. It allows catering to you know, whether they’re growing their practice, you know, for example, and want to be able to use monarch to do so or they’re managing their existing clients. And they’re happy with the state that they’re in today. And so again, the benefits of bringing it all together allows for that, that flexibility.
Katie Vernoy 34:03
Well, those are a couple of newer things: the monarch network as well as the professional website, so maybe you can tell us a little bit about that, because those are newer to us. And we’re just getting started with those.
Diana Stepner 34:16
Yeah, no problem at all. And so I’ll start with the professional website. So that was designed to provide a simple, clean foundation for clinicians to be able to tell the story about their practice and better engage with their client base. And it’s fully integrated functionality. And so it offers ease of use by reflecting information from their simple practice account that they already have set up so they don’t need to duplicate that effort. And it’s a modern one page design that translates beautifully onto the web, as well as to mobile. And so that means you’re always available and can you determine the connections that you want to have with your clients. And the new feature is available now for people To be able to use and it’s part of the professional plants.
Katie Vernoy 35:04
That’s great. And it like a month ago or less – and I guess when we put this out, it’ll be a little bit longer – Monarch launched. And so what is that?
Diana Stepner 35:15
Yeah, so Monarch is where you can see clients online. And so you can see the availability, you can share the availability that you have with prospective clients, and then that enables easier booking right from one place. And so we learned that having that availability, visible to prospective clients was one of the critical ways that clinicians wanted to manage their their practices. And also from the client side, they wanted to know when they could connect with their clinician what times were available, instead of having to go that back and forth over email or chat to seen that in one place gave them great insight, so they can quickly make an appointment. And so we wanted to bring that to light, and be able to fill that gap between the client and clinician by offering that continuity of care. And so whether the therapy seeker wants to find a clinician or the clinician wants to be able to, you know, see individuals or actually may be at capacity and wants to refer individuals to another practice, all that is available within the monarch marketplace to be able to see those opportunities. And so monarch is looking to, you know, help address those issues in the community. In regards to how we define it, it’s characterize as an online network, that’s reimagining how clinicians connect with therapy seekers, and even their colleagues. And it’s completely integrated into the clinicians existing simple practice account. So again, makes it easier to take advantage and just an extension of what they’ve already set up and are familiar with, within simple practice.
Katie Vernoy 37:00
So you don’t have to like enter things 27 million times, if you put it into your profile, you already have your calendar that allows for scheduling if you’re on one of the higher plans. And so you can basically have it as a front end marketing opportunity, so people can schedule with you, and they’re scheduling directly into your simple practice calendar.
Diana Stepner 37:21
Yeah, that’s an excellent, excellent way to describe it. And so we you know, from from all the feedback that we’ve received so far, and how it was thoughtfully designed, I mean, its goal is to simplify the sourcing of prospective clients, and then be able to help clinicians to maintain control over their online presence, because we know that that control is extremely important and want to ensure that that remains in the hands of the clinicians. And with the emphasis on what makes their practice unique being part of what’s displayed on monarch, it also gives them the right presence, and helps ensure their correct matching, or the ideal matching between the client and the clinician.
Curt Widhalm 38:00
What are some of the areas that simple practice is working to improve?
Diana Stepner 38:05
Yeah, and so within the areas that we’re looking to improve, we know with telehealth there was, you know, areas of opportunity that we wanted to make the product even better. And so there is a fresh new design. You know, speaking about mobile, we want to make sure that the mobile experience remains easy. And so there are improvements we’ve made with the mobile app that they’re coming soon, as well as just the online experience. We’ve also introduced new in call features. So giving people have the ability to toggle between a grid and the speaker view helping them have more of that presence and have more control over how the telehealth session runs. The real time pre call network status just helping people understand what they’re not at network status is so they have a better understanding if they need to move to another place or maybe turn off video because their network may not be at the optimum level at that point in time. And that goes back into even more areas of improvement around the call quality and the performance just helping to make the online the telehealth experience even better than it has been. Yeah and with with customer success, you know, we’re providing customers a phone number to call in to receive automated guidance you know, for example, if they’re having problems logging in, as well as we’re providing phone numbers depending on the issues raised and a solution is practical over the phone so we want to make sure that it’s the right right connection for a phone conversation. And we also do have live support so people can reach out over chat on Mondays through Fridays
Katie Vernoy 39:41
And there’s you can schedule like a video call to like it seems like if you’re not getting resolved through the you know, the pre recorded videos, the chat or a phone call like it seems like the option for screen share has been really great to getting a video screen share call.
Diana Stepner 39:59
It’s a really good way To help see things from the clinicians perspective, and then be able to help them navigate, because if someone is doing it themselves, then it helps remain in memory. And then it’s more likely they’ll be able to just quickly navigate on their own the next time.
Curt Widhalm 40:16
One of the things when it comes to some of those customer feedback is also the communities that simple practice has Facebook on your customer suggestion site, how have you taken some of those suggestions in the past and incorporated them and it’s not just out there listening to people, or Hey, complaining, but there is ways that you really do tap into the community here too
Diana Stepner 40:43
Definitely, I mean, other improvements are on billing, as well as insurance. And you know, there’s feedback that we received directly from the community on Facebook. There’s also a lot of information that comes through Instagram, we have user voice. And so billing recently updated the client billing page to make it a lot easier for people to see things at a glance, you know, specifically the billing status for each appointment, we also improve the design to be able to scan just a page and see in a matter of seconds, whether the client or the insurance is owing money for each of the appointments. And that was driven directly by feedback that came through the community. And then also on the insurance perspective. And the coverage reports, as well as the eligibility is an area of improvement for us based on your customer feedback coming through the community. And so clinicians can set expectations with their clients easily easily in regards to what their insurance plan will cover. And so yeah, the feedback has been really helpful to ensure that we’re making the changes that the community needs and helps us then follow out connect with the community. And they give us guidance as we go through the designs.
Katie Vernoy 41:56
So I found simple practice, especially helpful for me and even my consulting clients. Because I feel like it’s it’s a way to kind of launch in get your practice going, you can basically get a client on Monday and see them with everything in place on Tuesday. So I find it very helpful. But I know that simple practice is not for everybody. So if people are considering different electronic health records or practice management systems, who is simple practice, not right for.
Diana Stepner 42:23
Yeah, and I think it’s a really good question. I mean, simple practice is a product where I do recommend you try it, we have the free trial. So it’s an amazing way for people to get familiar with simple practice and see if it’s right for them. For folks that are looking for, you know, I think what will be referred to as more of a force workflow, so I need to go from step a to step B to step C or guided from one to two to three, then there may be a different product that’s right for them, we allow a lot of flexibility in regards to how people want to approach their practice, because again, simple practice was built, you know, with the clinician in heart. And so we know individuals have different workflows that they like, we know people have different rituals that they follow. And we want to ensure that they can incorporate those into their practice. So we have a lot of flexibility. But if individuals are being looked for looking for more of a guided step by step, then maybe something else is for them. But we still recommend, you know, using the free trial learning about simple practice, because it is it is designed specifically with clinicians at heart.
Katie Vernoy 43:33
And I would think that that would probably be most relevant, as far as, you know, kind of these forest or, or very streamlines very specific systemic kind of planning, it seems like that would be more for like, large group practices versus individuals or small group practices, because it seems like there’s when you really need to get very specific with your systems is when you’re having to leverage it across multiple sites, tons of clinicians. So so with, you know, shorthand, is it potentially larger group practices that would really need to make sure that simple practice was aligned with the systems that they already had in place?
Diana Stepner 44:12
Yeah, I think that’s a great description. And we do have large group practices on simple practice, but it is, yeah, simple practice was designed originally for the solo and for the smaller practices. So as you’re saying, you may get to a size of, you know, 500 clinicians where you need to have those forced workflows just to be able to manage that, that group of individuals. That makes sense.
Curt Widhalm 44:34
So I know, with any tech company, you can’t release too much of what you’ve got in development. But sir, anything that you can share of what’s coming up next.
Diana Stepner 44:45
Yeah, and so from a recent product development perspective, we’re looking at improving client billing even more areas of the overview page as well as automating the closing pay periods, as well as you know, aspects from telehealth So again, a lot driven by the community and feedback in regards to areas that you know, our clients, customers want to see improvements in the other areas on the professional website, we talked about it. And it’s an amazing product that’s has a lot of potential. And so we want to continue with updates there too. And being able to make it as simple and clean foundation for the clinician to tell their story about their practice and better engage with their client base. So that is going to continue to evolve the monarch. Again, it’s new. So we’ll continue to make improvements to monarch in regards to offering improved ways to match with clinicians and clients. And yeah, from there, I think we’ll just continue with improvements to the product and areas that the community identifies. Yeah, we will, we should focus on. So how does someone sign up? Yeah, so someone signs up, simple, easy process. And so if someone wants to go to WWW dot simple practice, comm slash therapy reimagined, we actually have a promotion that’s going on. So if you sign up, you’ll receive a free 30 day trial plus one additional month free after you become a paid subscriber.
Katie Vernoy 46:17
Yay. And we are paid affiliate with simple practice. So we will get a little bit of money in our pocket. So thank you very much. If someone’s wanting to take advantage of this offer, we’ll put the link in the show notes. How would you recommend them kind of going in and kind of investigating if simple practices for them.
Diana Stepner 46:36
So I think the free trial is an amazing way to get started, we also have steps that guide people through how to get started. So I do recommend following those steps. There’s in the first step, you set up your practice, and we have videos that help you get an overview of the features and functions within simple practice. From there, you’re guided to be able to set up your your website presence, so that you can put your your sign out on the internet that you are available, and then walking through how to manage, you know, an actual client. So we have a client that’s in there as a demo account to be able to help you work through all the features before you’re ready to open your door. And then from there, yeah, being able to have conversations with you know, that focus on onboarding can help people get started to the within the couple of steps that get people up and running. It’s a great way just to learn more about simple practice and make sure there’s a fit. There’s a lot that’s happening within simple practice. So appreciate having the opportunity to share. Yeah, a lot of the highlights with you. Thank you very much, Diana, for joining us. Thank you.
Katie Vernoy 47:50
Okay, so we were able to listen to Howard’s vision for the company. And for the product. We talked about the specific features. And so now it’s our turn. And so I guess the the way we start this Curt is Who do you think simple practices for like, who are the modern therapists that you would recommend simple practice to?
Curt Widhalm 48:10
simple practice is definitely for the tech minded therapists, those who are really starting out in their practice wanting to build an ecosystem around having everything all in one place. And I can speak from my own experience on this, doing this from the very beginning. If you’re getting out there and launching into your practice, I know that I have I had pushed simple practice away for years I had my own kind of in the office thing set up. And it took me a little while to fully transition things over and one of the biggest regrets that I have from my career is not having done this sooner, because it is kind of a learning curve to move things over get things set up. And if this had always just been the way then it would have been a lot easier to move into and not as difficult as time consuming to move everything over.
Katie Vernoy 49:07
Yeah, I think that’s a good point. So I think what you’re saying is definitely there’s there’s an element of tech savviness that’s needed there’s there’s videos throughout on how you set things up. But there’s there’s a there cannot be a fear of technology
Curt Widhalm 49:20
Katie Vernoy 49:20
that may be true for all all electronic health records but because I think simple practice relies on a lot of demos and and videos, you’re going to want to not be terrified by it. I think the other thing and Howard spoke to this is that it was originally designed for solo practitioners who were private pay, and I think that definitely is still probably the strongest choice but I definitely know for myself that insurance billing is a breeze and so I would I would say for folks who were insurance billing, private pay or hybrid solo practitioners – unreserved recommendation.
Curt Widhalm 49:59
Katie Vernoy 50:00
As long as you are tech savvy, or at least comfortable with learning new technology.
Curt Widhalm 50:05
I’m a group practice owner, I have a small group practice. I know a lot of other group practice owners and have heard some of their desires to use other sort of platforms. And Howard also spoke about this too, coming from that place, and just watching simple practice grow of being a company that was designed for private practitioners, for the way that I have my Group Practice set up, simple practice works just fine. But I know that I don’t run my practice in the same way that everybody else does. And I know the simple practice continues to grow. They talked about ways to give them feedback and have their community be able to push new things to their design team to continue to add new features. And I think that they’ve done so with group practices largely in mind over the last several years. But for those people who need some of the other functions, there are some limitations on where simple practice is when it comes to managing a group. And it’s something that you should evaluate if you are interested in simple practice to see if what their features currently are those that meet the needs of you and your team.
Katie Vernoy 51:13
And I do some consulting with group practice owners. And I think that there are potentially some reports that you want to check out to see what’s there and what you would recreate. I think there’s functionality that simple practice has that other electronic health records do not as far as just overall practice. And so I think, identifying what your needs are. And size of group, number of clients seen, I think sometimes some, some practice management systems are by number of users, some are by number of clients. So you just want to see what’s going to make sense for you. But I think, overall, I think we’re saying solo practitioner, absolutely check it out, see if it aligns with how you think about things. For group practice owners check to make sure it has the functionality you like and need for the way that you run your group practice.
Curt Widhalm 52:05
Katie, anyone that shouldn’t use simple practice?
Katie Vernoy 52:10
I think the people who are terrified by technology and really want to have somebody on the phone with them walking through things that this may not be the practice management system for them. I think that there’s a more of a I don’t even know what the right word is. But there’s there’s there are some folks that really desire the on demand phone support, they want to have that type of interaction. I know we’ve all talked about the different ways that you can get support with simple practice. And they think chatting and screen sharing and setting up meetings and going by email, sometimes that works for folks. And sometimes it doesn’t. So I think being able to really understand that elements, there’s potentially a lot of setup, there’s a lot of customization, which makes it amazing, but then that means that you have to actually do it. And so there are there’s like this little cottage industry of people that help a simple practice. So we won’t mention that here except to say that there are there is assistance if you love the system, but then feel a little bit overwhelmed by learning it or setting it up. But for folks who don’t want to spend extra money setting up simple practice, and who are afraid of technology, I’d say this is not the right system for you. So the final piece that I think is important is how to get the most or special considerations for using simple practice. And you and I talked about this at a time, and you kind of mentioned it, it is the amount of time it takes to set it up. I would say that if you start with it, it’s very helpful because your clients are just rolling right into the system. And there’s not really set up, it’s just each client does their own their own file, they do all the stuff. There’s some customization you want to look at. But it doesn’t have to be a huge setup. But if you’ve already got a practice in place, with all your forms already created, getting that setup takes some time. The other consideration is a lot of folks will get started with it, but they won’t use all the functionality. And I think that’s the part where, especially if you’re on the pro plan, and you have all the functionality use it, it actually makes everything very streamlined. If you don’t use all the functionality, it’s not necessarily the right i think system for you. So making sure that you actually put the time aside to set it up I think is important.
Curt Widhalm 54:23
Absolutely. And there are new features or features that have always been there that I fully admit that I don’t use. And so it does make it worthwhile when you investigate what’s actually there and the portions of simple practice that I do use. I find her very worthwhile investment for me and my practice. And knowing that there’s more out there makes it easy thing for me to say. Yeah, check it out. Go ahead and use it if it works for you and make sure that you give it a fair shake and a full evaluation. So you can check out our show notes about this episode including timestamps to specific questions at MTS g podcast.com. And thank you for joining us on this adventure through our first ever modern therapist consumer guide. And until next time, I’m currently at home with Katie Vernoy.
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