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Private Practice Software version 4 by Rushcliff Ltd

Private Practice Software, v4, offers a comprehensive practice management programme which is mainly aimed at physical practitioners such as physiotherapists, osteopaths, podiatrists and chiropractors. However, it can be personalised by the user to make it more suitable for the needs of psychotherapists. 

 

Free trial: There is no trial period for using the demonstration version of PPS. You are just restricted to 100 patient records prior to purchase.

 

Cost: from £10 per month for the Express single-user version (basic features) and from £32 a month for the full version. Installation on a PC or local network is from £299. Support contract from £190 a year. For a hosted version, there’s a one-off set-up fee of £60 (support is included). Online booking facility: £120 set-up fee then a £30 monthly fee. All prices exclude VAT. 

 

Anyone can download and log into the demo database so you can play with its features – there is no time limit on accessing it but you are restricted to 100 patient records. First impressions are that it looks slightly confusing and doesn’t have the most visually appealing interface. Fortunately, a cartoon character called Private Practice Pete is on hand with step-by-step guides which cover everything from getting started with the software to more advanced functions like invoicing. 

 

There are short and simple video tutorials too, which introduce you to each function and are easy to follow. There is also the Knowledgebase, which can be accessed by hitting the F1 button. This contains a wealth of different guides and videos to help you out. The Knowledgebase website is interactive to the software, meaning that if you’re stuck on a screen, such as the appointments’ diary, you’ll only see the relevant guides. This saves you time in searching through lots of meaningless guides to find the right one.

 

The Client Log allows you to view all a client’s information in one place (e.g. appointments, consultation notes, accounts. You can also record how the client initially found you, which is handy if you’re tracking your marketing activity and want to know where your referrals are coming from. The fields for the client details can be customised if you need to record additional bits of information, though it already contains boxes for essentials like address, GP details, contacts and insurance details. You can attach documents, such as a GP letter, to the client record too. If you need to flag critical information about a client so you see it when you access their records, there is an option for this, and you can schedule tasks or reminders for yourself on a To-Do list.

 

From the Client Log, you can create letters using a number of templates as PPS has its own word processor, although it’s very basic and it’s easier to use Microsoft Word, which can also be opened from within PPS. Details, such as the client’s address, are inserted automatically into your document for you. Merge fields give you the opportunity to pull through any client information you’ve stored in PPS on to the letter, from their date of birth to their last appointment date and treatment plan.

 

The consultation screen is obviously aimed at physical practitioners (for example, it allows you to record a lot of physical problems, location of pain and annotated diagrams). You have to ignore quite a bit of this (or customise it) and adapt it to psychotherapy needs instead. One handy feature of this screen for psychotherapists is its feature which lets you add freehand clinical notes after a session, and you can also sign off notes so no further changes can be made to them in the future. There are also some very basic forms for outcome measures which have been aimed at psychotherapists but they are limited to asking: “Problem A and B, pre and post score”. You can modify these forms if you use other outcome measures which you use, as long as they’re not too detailed.

 

If you need more specific forms, PPS has a comprehensive and clever custom form designer tool, allowing you to create forms tailored to whatever information you need to record. As with the merge fields before, you can use these to insert client information on to the form so you don’t have to type it out twice! PPS are constantly updating their library of forms too, and you can download these free of charge.

 

Keeping on top of your finances isn’t complicated with this software. Once you mark an appointment as complete, a screen pops up where you are given the option to choose how to bill the client (either pay now or pay later) and their payment method if they’ve paid already. It also asks you if you want to make another appointment at the same time and if you’d like to schedule an appointment reminder. There is the option to send automatic reminders for appointments via letter, email or sms (additional cost). It has been designed to work with online booking too, if you have paid for that facility. 

 

From the PPS Accounts section, you can create invoices for one or multiple sessions, either directly to the client or their third party. You can also view paid and unpaid invoices, allowing you to keep track of payments. This is done with a few easy clicks.

 

Another helpful feature of this package is the ability to generate reports so you can see how well your practice is doing and help you with business planning. If you have a hosted version of PPS, you have the advantages of being able to access your diary on the move, update clinical notes from any location and work on your business at a time and place which suits you. It can be used on a variety of platforms, such as Windows, Apple and Android – phones, computers and tablets.

 

To summarise, PPS v4 is a useful and widely-used practice management programme which will save you time in the long-run. It has lots of useful features but it’s a package that will take a while to get to grips with. It also needs quite a bit of customisation to make it more applicable - and therefore useful – to psychotherapists as it’s clearly aimed primarily at physical practitioners. To be able to customise the programme, you need a certain level of computer skill. In addition, the screen layout also isn’t very visually appealing and it’s not particularly intuitive to use. However, if you feel confident with computers and want to be able to run your practice using one piece of software, it does have many advantages and is worth considering.

 

 

Ratings:

 

Overall rating: 4/5

Ease of installation: 5/5

User-friendliness: 4/5

Help and support: 4/5

Value for money: 4/5

 

Updated August 2013

 

 

PPS response:

 

Whilst we agree that Private Practice Software (PPS) may not follow the latest varying fashion in graphical user interfaces (GUI’s), it makes up for it in its versatility and comprehensiveness.

 

PPS, through its flexibility in customisation, means that you have virtually unlimited options for creating templates, clinical forms and generating reports and custom output options. Following the initial set-up wizard means that the system can be fully up and running within an hour or two. However, depending on your requirements, it can take more time to configure but the benefits are quickly appreciated in both ease of use and automation. To assist in the setting up, we do have a dedicated support team.

 

Added to this, you get a free ‘Getting Started’ session with a member of the team once you’ve purchased the system. The aim of the session is to get you up and running with the basics in PPS – setting up the diary, practitioners, adding clients and billing. Though this list is not exhaustive and you can schedule the session to cover other topics too.

 

PPS can be used in multi-physical locations and at different sites so it makes clinic management look easy! Even more, you can use it on a number of different platforms.