Why a modern ABA agency needs digital integration
It’s easy to assume you need more software, but adding more digital tools often creates more of a mess. If technology is causing more problems than it solves, it’s time for digital integration.
In today’s increasingly connected times, digital transformation is a term we are all familiar with. You probably already know that digital transformation is needed but when it comes to the practicalities of business reform and organizational change management it can be hard to determine what is actually required.
Digital technology is there to help your business, but when your software isn’t connected it can end up causing more problems than it solves. This is especially true for businesses that are dealing with huge amounts of data on a daily basis – like behavioral health organizations.
From client intake to scheduling; business financials to employee and HR management. Information is everywhere. The challenge is to stay on top of it and make sure you’re optimizing the quality of care your clinicians are capable of providing.
How can ABA providers overcome this challenge? Connect your digital systems so they communicate with each other and work more efficiently. This is digital integration.
Digital integration: Keep your business moving forward seamlessly
Consider the flow of data in your organization. Similar to the flow of traffic in a busy city, when your infrastructure is well managed, traffic stays moving, even during peak hour. When the flow is obstructed in one location, whether by a malfunctioning traffic light or an accident, the movement of traffic across the entire city slows down, or in the worst-case scenario, grinds to a standstill. Digital integration enables you to unblock your data jams so information can travel unimpeded across your business workflows.
Connecting your digital systems doesn’t have to be complicated or overwhelming. Here are the five steps you need to follow to get your business running at full digital capacity so your workforce can focus on what they do best—supporting outcomes-based care for your clients.
Step 1: Determine your digital baseline
Before you can make any changes to your business technology, it’s beneficial to map out your digital systems so you can identify the key elements you already have in place that may or may not be working well.
There are two main areas to consider when looking at the technology and systems in your organization:
- Business processes and management. Where are you using technology to support the visibility of employee data, centralization of client intake, and management of clinical operations? Where are you using non-digital systems in your business processes?
- Care delivery and support. How efficiently are you supporting your workforce? What about managing Authorizations and simplifying scheduling by accurately matching clients to clinicians? Consider the role technology plays—do your current systems help or hinder your employees?
If you are using different apps and software for different business functions, write them all down. Are different software platforms communicating automatically with each other, or is there a requirement for human involvement at every step? It may help to speak to your staff and get their feedback as to what’s working well and what needs improvement.
Once you know your current position, it’s easier to see what you need to do to move forward to the next stage in your digital transformation.
Step 2: Identify the gaps
Once you have clearly mapped out your business tech, you can more readily determine the location of data bottlenecks and information blockages. Once you’ve identified the gaps in your business, the next step is to find an effective solution that will enable you to refine your digital efficiencies, automate as much as possible and get your data flowing freely.
While every healthcare organization is different, there are a few common areas where digital systems often don’t run as smoothly as they could:
- HR systems and scheduling. When your scheduling system doesn’t talk to payroll and HR, your staff are often left having to manually enter data from one to the other. This takes time and increases the likelihood of errors.
- Submitting claims. ABA billing is complex. If your billing processes aren’t integrated and automated, your staff are likely to spend a significant amount of time on administration when they could be providing care.
- Visibility of employee data. It’s important to be able to track certifications with alert notifications for expiration dates, and track funding sources for payor credentialing with ease.
The key to successful digital integration is to create automated processes that can run without the need for a person to be involved at each step. Human decision making requires time and a level of understanding that takes your workforce away from what should be their main focus – spending more time with clients.
For digital integration to be successful, ABA providers require a very specialized software solution. There are multiple factors that go into choosing the most appropriate one, which we’ll cover in the next steps.
Step 3: Choose your solution type
When you’re considering a tech solution for your organization there are three main options:
- A custom-built solution. Custom-built solutions are created specifically for your organization. While they might appear to be tailored to your business, in reality, custom-built solutions usually lack agility, are expensive to scale and generally become redundant quickly.
- An out of the box solution. If you don’t want a full custom-built solution, another option is to purchase one that is already developed and have it configured to suit your needs. While out of the box solutions are more agile and easier to scale than a custom-built solution, they are not tailored to the needs of ABA therapy providers’ organizations, resulting in the need to purchase multiple pieces of software to fill the gaps.
- A single, end to end solution. A single, complete solution offers security, reliability and the flexibility to configure your software so it aligns with your organizational processes and requirements. This is the type of solution that Lumary’s ABA practice management software provides. Most importantly, it’s designed to evolve as rules and technology change so it won’t become outdated.
Step 4: Check out the cloud
Cloud technology provides us with the ability to access and store data online, and retrieve it from any device that’s connected to the internet. In addition to changing the way we use technology in our daily lives, the cloud has facilitated a previously unprecedented level of flexibility and mobility in the way we work.
There are five main reasons behavioral health organizations should consider moving their digital systems to the cloud.
- Mobility. Because cloud software can be accessed from any device, your workforce can bring their digital systems on a mobile phone or tablet when they’re travelling to see clients. This allows them to manage their routine administration from wherever they are located.
- Scalability. With cloud technology, you don’t need to invest in new infrastructure when you grow. Scaling up or downsizing your business systems is as simple as clicking a button to manage users.
- Long term cost savings. With cloud, all updates, maintenance and security are taken care of for you, so you can eliminate the need for third-party IT costs. Not only will you reduce your costs, but you will also maximize your profitability as your organization becomes more efficient.
- Flexibility. Cloud technology is accessible from any device and anywhere there’s internet. It’s ideal for behavioral health providers looking for a flexible way for their workforce to stay connected.
- Real-time updates and synchronization. Maintain an updated audit trail with real-time updates and synchronization. As soon as client information is updated from one device, it shows across the entire system for efficient, compliant tracking.
With a cloud-based platform, your workforce can access the data it needs from anywhere, safely and securely. The cloud is not just important for digital integration – it’s what makes digital integration possible.
Step 5: Choose a technology partner, not a provider.
Your technology is the cornerstone of your business success so you need to get it right, but with multiple possibilities to choose from, finding the most effective solution can seem like an overwhelming task. Focus on finding a long term partner over a short term provider. This will alleviate much of the stress involved in making such an important decision.
Typically, a tech provider will sell you a software package, after which their involvement ends. A tech partner will spend time getting to know your business and work with you to optimize your processes and support you with the tools and resources to get the most out of your system.
To keep up with the pace of change, ABA therapy providers need to move to a new business model where data can flow freely between different platforms, applications and on any device. Adding more technology into your business will only slow you down but digital integration can keep your business data flowing fast and give your organization the green light for future success and better outcomes-based care.
Now you know how—it’s time to find the right tech partner.