How To Make Your Intakes Easy ft. Luci Carrillo

Intakes are the lifeblood of any practice. Join me, Uriah Guilford, and my Director of Sales & Marketing, Luci, as we share some simple tips for streamlining and supercharging your intakes. Click to listen now!

In This Episode, You'll Learn:

  • How to optimize your intake process and convert more callers into clients

Resources Mentioned In This Episode:

Therapy Intake Made Easy
Therapy Intake Pro

䷉ Click for full episode transcript

Uriah
Hello, and welcome to the Therapy Intake Made Easy Q&A Webinar! So happy to be here with you. My name is Uriah Guilford. I am the head nerd here at Productive Therapist, and I'm joined by...

Luci
Hello, my name is Luci Carrillo. I am the Director of Sales and Marketing over here at Productive Therapist, and we are delighted to have you with us today. Thanks for joining.

Uriah
Absolutely. So we're here as the intake experts to answer your questions about how to streamline your intake process, turn more colors into clients, and just make everyone's life a bit easier. So we had some awesome who purchased the course during that initial launch window, and we collected their questions. And so we're here today to share some answers with you. And Lucy and I will just be going back and forth, sharing some ideas and strategies and things to tweak and change to make it work smoother. All right, let's get into it. Yeah, are you ready? Yeah, I have a plan.

Luci
Yeah, I am ready. Let's do this.

Uriah
We love solving problems, especially when it's related to the intake process. Okay.

Luci
Oh, yes.

Uriah
All right. First question up here is, Is there any tips for getting current clients to talk to their therapist directly instead of the main line or the main admin email address? What do you think about this one, Lizzie?

Luci
Yeah, I was intrigued by this question because I want to know more information. I want to know what the problem is. Why is it a problem that somebody is reaching out through the main line or the email instead of contacting the therapist directly? I want to know what the problem is that they want to solve. And then what is the goal or purpose in solving that problem? It could be to reschedule an appointment. Obviously, rather that goes directly to the therapist. It saves time tying up the intake coordinator. Is it to ask a therapy-related question? It could be any of those things, or potentially, depending on the way the practice is set up, it may be that the initial intake goes directly to the therapist. They do a consultation, and then maybe hand that back off to the intake coordinator for actual scheduling. So I think it does depend on what the problem is. But regardless of that, I would probably try and resolve this a similar way. I think it involves training, basically, for the therapy team. You need to set a precedent from the first session and have that be part of the intake. So the therapist would say, either at the beginning or the end of the session, whenever it makes sense, as long as it's in the first session, if you have any or if you need to reschedule, here is my number. Make sure they write it down. Here is my email address. Please reach out to me directly. This is going to save you time. Always position it as a benefit to the client. It makes them more likely to do it. That's probably how I would deal with that. What would you take from that?

Uriah
Yeah, those are good caveats there. It depends on what the goal is and what the problem really is underlying this question. But I'm going to assume that there's too many any things that are going to the intake coordinator that really belong to the therapist, whatever that might be. It really depends on the practice owner and the admin team what you want the intake coordinator to handle versus the therapist to handle. I always want the therapist to handle scheduling and rescheduling after the first session is booked. I think, yeah, setting the precedent in the beginning with your admin team and with your clinicians on who does what, basically defining those roles is really helpful. Then also Clients will call and they're just looking for help. They're trying to solve some problem. Maybe they need a super bill, maybe they need a rescheduler appointment, whatever that might be. It's about the intake coordinator directing them to the therapist as many times as needed to let the clients know what the proper channel is. There might be a little bit of work in progress there for different clients.

Luci
Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. I think it would probably be important as well in that situation This is another training thing for the intake coordinator, make sure that they're not making the client feel like they're being told off, Oh, you haven't used the property. No, you're not supposed to call me. You're supposed to call the therapist. Make the client feel heard and understood. It's not their fault. More than likely, it's not their fault that they're calling the wrong place. It was a lack of communication from somebody. So yeah, bearing that in mind.

Uriah
I think in an ideal world, I've never done this, but I'm going to say, I think this is ideal, to change the phone tree. Let's just go with phone calls, right? So when somebody calls, if they've got a billing question, they press one. If they're a new client, they press one. If they've got a billing question, they press two. And for me, it'd be like that line would go to Jamie, my practice manager and insurance biller. So use the technology, i. E. Phone system, to route folks to the right place. I think that could be a really good solution.

Luci
Yeah, it could be. And that could be interesting. Even if you don't have a different person for each possible number on the phone tree, even if it's all going to the same person, at least the person on the other end of the phone knows what the call is about. That could be helpful, too.

Uriah
Definitely. Definitely, yeah. But defining roles is important, and directing traffic is important. Oftentimes the intake coordinator is the director of traffic, which I think is fine, but they just need to have clear instructions on what to do.

Luci
Yeah, absolutely.

Uriah
Okay. Okay. Next question. We sometimes go through periods where people call back to cancel their first appointment. So I'm assuming they call, talk to the intake coordinator, set an appointment, then they call back, cancel it. Any tips for reducing that? Yeah, what do you think about that?

Luci
I feel like we got this question a lot during the Therapy Intake Pro Q&A calls, and it's a really good one. The answer, or one of the answers, can be somewhat contentious, depending on your perspective. But something that we found to consistently work, at least with our members that we work with, is to have the intake coordinator take credit card info when they're scheduling the first appointment. And you may have no intention of ever using the credit card info, but the mere fact of giving it makes the caller take this appointment a little more seriously. This is not just, Oh, I'm making an appointment, but I can just phone and cancel it, or I can not show up and there's no repercussions to me. They've got a little bit of skin in the game when they get their credit card. And even if you have no plans of charging them, whether they no show or not, or whether they show or not, I suppose it's double negative. It helps with mental commitment for the caller.

Uriah
Right. It will solidify that commitment.

Luci
Yeah, exactly. And there's some great verbiage that our VAs have refined over years of doing this. Whenever you get to this point in the call script, you can say something like, to secure your appointment, we just need a credit card on file for you. Don't worry, your card won't be charged unless, whatever the criteria is, you missed your appointment, whatever. What's the card number you'd like to use? So you don't say, is that okay? Or do you have a card? Or whatever. You just go right ahead with, let's get the information from you, and that seems to work quite well.

Uriah
What would you recommend for an insurance-based practice that doesn't charge the credit card for the full session? I guess if they're collecting a copay, they would probably still collect the credit card for that, right?

Luci
Yeah. Even if the practice is 100% insurance-based, this strategy can still work because if the insurance refuses to pay, you've got a payment method on file. It incentivizes the person to make sure that their insurance is going to cover the session as well. So either way, this, I don't like calling it a strategy, but it is because it's helping you reduce the no shows and the cancelations. That is one way that we found that works. How about you? What do you think?

Uriah
You know, So there's so many different reasons that people might make a commitment to attend a therapy session and then back out. I think a lot of people are ambivalent or on the fence about starting therapy, so that could be part of it. It's also possible that they found another provider that they think is more ideal for them, whatever that case might be, or they just decided to abandon the mission. Some percentage of that is just going to happen. It just does. But if you notice a pattern in your intake calls where this is happening more often, I would obviously have some follow-up questions and want to know more. It's a possibility that the intake coordinator is not doing a good enough job of conveying confidence. So glad you called. You're in the right place. We This is the right group practice for you. This is the right clinician for you. I believe you're going to see results, those things. If that has not been properly conveyed to the client, they might just be like, Did I just make a good decision or not a great decision by going with this provider. That's what comes up for me.

Luci
That's a really great point because I think we take this for granted with our virtual assistants that they're actively trying to solve a problem for somebody. They're not just scheduling appointments. And I'm sure that the majority of intake coordinators out there feel the same way. But sometimes having the training and the tools to know exactly how to do that in a practical way in a call is very helpful. So like you were talking about, you've got to inspire confidence in this person that you're recommending. This therapist is a stranger to this person who's struggling with something deeply personal, and it's your job as the intake coordinator to be the mediator to say, Hey, in my experience, I've seen this clinician work really well with people struggling with the same problems as you. Some good verbiage What I'm hearing is you're struggling with X, you would like support with X. Uriah is going to be a great clinician for you because he has experience. He has a lot of experience in this thing. Let to get you scheduled with him. So it's not an appointment you're scheduling. Yeah, you're really inspiring confidence in this person that they're going to get help with their problem. It's going to be solved.

Uriah
I got to tell you this quick story. So there's right by my office, there's this amazing restaurant. It's a Mexican restaurant named El Charro. Been going there for literally 15 years, almost. And the people there are super nice. But there's this one particular lady who's been there the whole time. And she's super friendly, and I'm a local at this point to some degree, right? But every time, and I think she says this to everybody, every time she's done serving somebody and they paid and they're ready to leave, she says, Okay, see you tomorrow. I just think that's so brilliant because she's planting a seed for like, Oh, yeah, I'm coming back. This is a good experience. That's awesome. Right? So there's a lot to be said for that. What would you call that in the world of psychology or sales? I don't know.

Luci
Positive reinforcement.

Uriah
Creating an expectation or positive reinforcement. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Luci
And it is positive reinforcement, isn't it? Because she's not saying, okay, hope to see you soon. It's we will see you soon. It's going to happen. Like you said, they're expecting it.

Uriah
It's like she's telling you in the most friendly way, right? You're coming back tomorrow. Yes.

Luci
Yes. It's a statement. It's not a question. That's great. Yeah, that's great.

Uriah
Okay. Moving on to question number three. How can we increase newsletter signups for people who call but don't decide to use us for therapy.

Luci
Yeah.

Uriah
Can I take this one first? Is that okay?

Luci
Yes, please do.

Uriah
So honestly, in my practice, we've done a good job of this at times and then not so good of a job other times, but this person is asking about people who call, so let's assume that they're talking to the intake coordinator. It's all about the positioning of the value of joining the email newsletter. For me, when I was my own intake coordinator and somebody wasn't a good fit for me for some reason, but I knew that they would enjoy and benefit from my emails, I would just tell them. I said, I have an amazing email newsletter that I send out every week, and it's all about parenting teens, and I would love to put you on the list. Is that okay? Just something like that. I had the experience many times of people who were, I told you this, on my email newsletter list for years. And then finally, they were constantly getting my emails, and then finally, they reached out years later Love your emails, been connected to you for a while, and I did not have to convince them to sign up for... They were ready to go, right? So obviously, that's a good strategy. But that's what I would recommend. It's about how you position that and communicate it to the person on the phone.

Luci
Yeah, I love that. I had a similar thought. It is about positioning. It's about it being a benefit, a value to them. And of course, that has to follow through in the actual newsletter. If the newsletter is all about, we've got this service and you're going to discount. That is not the reason that somebody signs up for a newsletter. People are being sold to left, right and center constantly. Oh, my goodness. And even if there's some value in your newsletter, but then it's also salesy, it just doesn't feel great when you're reading that. So positioning it as a benefit to them, but also following that through the actual newsletter. The newsletter needs to be full of content that is applicable to them and their need. And like you said, you've had this experience. You may feel like you're sending out You're creating and sending out fabulous content for years and years and years, and nothing ever comes of it. But you don't know that nothing comes of it because you don't know if that person that just scheduled a call was referred to your practice by someone who's on your newsletter list, who is not your ideal client, but knew that this person would be, told them about it, and they called and scheduled. You just never know. Reciprocity where the good that you send out is going to come back to you.

Uriah
I always viewed my newsletter as my community service, my free offering to help anybody and everybody who wanted to listen or to tune in, so to speak. This is a little bit harder for general practices where they work with kids, seniors, couples, et cetera. But in that instance, the answer, I I think is segmenting, which is just basically creating sub-lists or sub-sections of the email list so that if you're on the phone with somebody, let's say the practice is general, but they also have—I'm just making this up—eating disorder treatment options. For some reason, it's not a good fit, but would you like to get occasional updates about our eating disorder treatment or something like that? Or maybe if it's anxiety. Then you send specific information to specific people. I think that's probably the best answer for that.

Luci
Yeah, that's a great idea. You could also segment the newsletter itself. If the practice is more generalized and it covers all kinds of different things, like the eating disorder example, maybe somebody is going to the practice already for depression, or maybe they're not even a client of the practice yet, but they called for depression. If they join the newsletter list and they get a newsletter that says, what are the key signs of an eating disorder? And they read that and they realize, oh, my goodness, that's me, or that's my brother, or whoever. You don't know how that's going to come back. Just educating somebody, they may have come for one thing, but then they may realize they have this other need, and that may push them into services.

Uriah
Yeah, good point. Good point. As long as it comes from a place of being helpful, I think that's the most important thing there.

Luci
Yeah, I agree. Okay.

Uriah
Next question. Question four, how can I help my admin remember to ask how they heard about us? This is important. This is very important.

Luci
It is important, yes. And we do this, too. The answer is very, very complicated and involved. So basically, you just have to add it to the call script. Add it to the call script and require them to use it. It's that simple. Just add it to the call script.

Uriah
Yeah, definitely. But when the intake coordinator learns the call script, no longer needs to view the call script, they should be still doing all the steps. That is true. Depending on how you're tracking new inquiries, well, at least the way that we track them and the way that I track them, there's a field for that. For every single person that calls or emails or reaches out, there's a field for where did they come from, how did you hear about it? So obviously, if you're the practice manager or the owner or even the head of the intake team, you can take a look and see, is that information being captured? In this case, obviously, it's not being captured. So there might need to be some other accountability. I think that's the right answer of figuring out how to solve the problem of why it's getting missed. So I would definitely... Whoever is listening to this, it depends. But I would approach that with curiosity. And if it's just the intake coordinator is missing it and not doing it, then problem solved for that. If the workflow or if something needs to be changed on that end, then update that. But if you don't gather this information, obviously, it's valuable info and you want to use it to network in the market and to nurture your your referral sources and all those things.

Luci
Yeah, I think something that often gets missed by the decision makers in any business is communicating with the people who are actually going to be implementing those decisions, why those decisions were made, what is the point of them? Because intake coordinators, they track all kinds of metrics depending on the practice. And some of those may make sense to them without any explanation. How many times was somebody contacted? Were they actually scheduled? It seems pretty obvious why you would be tracking those things. But other things like this, where did the person hear about us, may not be so obvious. Why that's important or how does that affect me in my job as an intake coordinator. Why would that have... That's not really important to me. So it's just not that important. But if you, as the practice owner or the practice manager, can communicate clearly why you want to track certain pieces of information and how that has a knock-on effect back to the intake coordinator. Knowing where somebody came from, it helps you to maximize that source of referrals, which means the practice is getting more clients coming in and the intake coordinator gets to keep their job. That obviously goes back to most things. It lets you keep your job. But communicating that clearly so they understand why it's important, why you need that info can help them to not just gloss over it in the script or in the field.

Uriah
And that applies to absolutely everything that we have to do. You need to understand why you're doing it, why it matters. Otherwise, it's just busy work, and nobody wants to do busy work. I know for a number of years, I would actually me, look at my top referral sources, and then I would go bring them like gifs. I would stop by local professionals and different folks. So tracking that information was important so that I could know who to drop off gifts to.

Luci
Yeah.

Uriah
Yeah.

Luci
Yeah. Yeah. I think it's also very dignifying and empowering to the person. This is information that you, as the practice owner, already understand. You know why you want to that. And explaining that, showing that with the intake coordinator may not seem like that much of a big deal to you. Okay, yeah, sure. I'll do that. But I was just thinking of an example recently with Tesla has been in the news a lot, about they've just been letting huge swaths of people go, and the people don't know that it's coming. It doesn't seem to be performance-based. It doesn't seem to be based on anything. And that can be very, very, very disorienting. And for the people that stay that haven't been let go yet, they don't know if they're next because they don't know what the criteria is. Why was that decision made? So even just a little bit of information shared so that somebody understands why something is happening can help them with their job performance because they feel like, Oh, okay. All right. I understand that. That makes sense. I may not like it, but it makes sense to me so I can keep doing my job. I feel like I have the tools I need to do that. It can have a huge knock-on effect.

Uriah
I like it. I think question number 5 is related. Yes. If you have it as a drop-down for an online contact form, how many options do you put in there? I was actually looking at ours just the other day because I was updating our contact form, and I have about six, I think, six options. I don't want to put 27. That's too many. And you obviously want to try to have something for most people. So the obvious ones, like Google Search, Psychology Today, Local Professional, Returning Clients. What were the other things? I'm trying to remember them. Friends or family. Social Media, Friends or Family. Yeah. But I think those are basically the six that I put on there. I think that covers most of them. You could obviously put one that says Other, too, so that you could ask them if you end up talking to them. A lot of people say, I was just searching, and they don't know what they were searching for. But when they do that, I put Google. We just put Google, right?

Luci
Covers everything. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. I think it does depend on the purpose of the drop-down. If this is for an initial web form for a practice. The referral source is, like you said, a very likely one. What insurance they take, what insurance the person wants to use, maybe what's bringing them to therapy. You could have a certain number of preset options for that or other. But the nice thing about having those things rather than having a text box that somebody can fill in anything is, firstly, it's much easier to track because everything is standardized. You can track, Okay, this person heard about us from Google, rather than, Well, I was just searching on the internet the other day and I was thinking about Delivered, and then I came across this. Oh, and it sent me to your practice. It's much easier to track that information, and it's much easier to track that information. And it's much easier to understand the response that saves time across the board. And it's more useful.

Uriah
I think part of this question, this question was actually longer and part of it said And do you also track the referral source inside of Simple Practice?

Luci
I think that's the next question.

Uriah
Is that our next question? There it is. Perfect. Thank you. And for folks who I don't use Simple Practice or might not know, you can put in the referral source and then you can get to a report that says, here's your top referral sources, and here's how much actual client revenue or income came from this referral source. I do think that is helpful because you could have, potentially, you could have somebody that refers a lot of clients to you, but they don't stay or something is not ideal about that. I think it's a good idea. So we track it on the spreadsheet as well as in simple practice. And it's not a lot of extra work, really.

Luci
Yeah, that makes sense. It probably comes down to where you keep track of your metrics. That could be simple practice, it could be a Google spreadsheet, whatever it is.

Uriah
Keep it in one place. I honestly wish the major EHRs would just add features for helping the intake process be more streamlined, right? I know like simple practice has a waitlist feature, so you can add people to the waitlist, but it would be nice if all that data could just live inside the EHR from the first contact. That would be my wish. It's on my wish list. What is the next question we've got? Which tools do you use to keep track of clinician caseload and availability for the intake coordinator? I'll give that one to you first, and then I'll chime in as well.

Luci
From what I've seen of working with our members, This seems to be... What is the EHL? That is the simple answer. You keep track of both in there. We require all our members to have their availability kept up to date in the EHR. It's a requirement to work with us. And the EHR should also be keeping track of clinician caseloads because every case should be in the EHR. So get an EHR if you don't already have one. And if you already have one, make sure that you're using it for both things, because if you can consolidate information data into one place, it's so much easier to reference and track. That would be my take on that. How about you?

Uriah
Yeah, we've seen some practices with very, fairly complex processes for tracking who has openings, what their openings are, having all the clinicians fill out a Google form at the beginning or the end of the week, intake coordinator pulling all this information together and trying to patchwork everything. It's just too much, right? If you can see the availability in the EHR, that's just the simplest way to go. Part of this question was also related to, how does the intake coordinator keep track of which clinicians see which populations and presenting problems? And that tends to be a different answer. That's like a clinician specialty spreadsheet, right? Exactly. That is used Until the intake coordinator just knows everybody well enough to know, Oh, yeah, Candice is the best person for eating disorders for teens, et cetera. But in my practice, we had some challenges with this, to be honest, where certain people were not keeping their availability up to date. It would show 10 or 15 openings when there was actually three. One time when I was covering for my intake coordinator, I scheduled some clients, and that provider was not available, did not want to be available for those times. So to some degree, it's about creating a system and making people do it, making people follow it. It works best that way, though. It really does. Because the worst thing is to be able to book an appointment for somebody and give them that sense of satisfaction of completing their search, ending the search, so to speak, and then be like, Oh, just kidding. That's not actually right.

Luci
I think this is something, ironically, quite difficult for a lot of practice owners to implement because you're right. It is as simple as creating a system and making everyone stick to it. But most practice owners, well, all practice owners are very nice people. That's why they're practice owners, therapists in the first place. But because they're nice people, they don't want to tell their therapy team what to do always. They find it really, really difficult. So as a practice owner, if you know that that is your challenge, first of all, it is your prerogative to pick the system. We always recommend using Task or project management software platforms. We all love Todoist. It's amazing. But it depends how your brain works. So you, as the practice owner, get to decide what amazing platforms and tools you're going to use and how the system is set up. And obviously you want feedback because you want people to feel good about implementing this. This is actually a solution that makes sense and will work. But then when you're enforcing fixing it or requiring your therapy team to follow the system you've created, bearing in mind how it's going to benefit them, not just immediately, because they'll have a lot of headaches solved. They'll get time back because they're not having to double check on things being done, but in the longer term, because it's going to mean the practice has a healthy influx of clients that are getting where they need to go, and that's just going to benefit everybody.

Uriah
Yeah. So removing those roadblocks and also preventing burnout with your admin team. Very important. Yes. I think that might be the last question. Let me double check. Is there-I think you're right. That slide is blank. I should say, done. We should say done. We'll go like this. We did them.

Luci
There we go. And then this one. Oh, hang on. What was it? Was it this one?

Uriah
And we've come to the end. There we go. Oh, my goodness. All right. We did it. We answered all the questions. I think that was Every question anyone could possibly have. Every question. Although if we had the ability to do so, we would have asked 10 more questions for each question. Because it's always a matter of getting into the nitty-gritty of like, Okay, well, why is that happening? Let's really dig into that. That's something that we can help you with if you're listening to this and you or your practice owner or your practice manager needs more help with streamlining your intake process, obviously, go back, check out Therapy Intake Made Easy, and take a look at that again if you need to. But reach out to us at [email protected] if you need more help. We're always here for you. Until next time. Signing off. Bye, Luci. Take care.

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