Running a practice

Clean up your caseload

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Taking the steps to keep your caseload current can be tedious — but it’s important.

Life is busy. In the day-to-day routine of seeing clients, it’s easy to lose sight of administrative tasks that keep your practice running smoothly, such as updating your caseload.

“We’re only human, and mistakes will happen. There might be someone who cancels, and you forget to circle back, or you might get sick and never reschedule a client,” says Natalia Tague, Headway’s clinician engagement lead. 

Taking the steps to keep your caseload current can be tedious — but it’s important. It helps protect you from potential liability, and keeps the focus on providing the best possible care to your existing clients.

Below, learn more about when and how to clean up your therapy caseload. 

Step 1: Look over your roster

Your caseload should be an accurate representation of clients you’re actively treating. For one thing, keeping your roster current allows you to help more people, because when you discharge one person you can open up spots for new clients.

Updating your caseload is also important when things go wrong, explains Tague. Your current caseload should only include clients you’re actively seeing, in case those clients become engaged in other critical clinical care (such as being admitted to the hospital for self-harm) or legal proceedings.

To make sure you’re staying up to date, set up a recurring calendar reminder and reach out to clients as needed. Some clients may want to schedule appointments, so this is a great time to get them back on a regular cadence and keep working toward their treatment goals.

Step 2: Identify no-shows and make a plan to discharge them

Whether a client hasn’t been consistent in attending therapy, you’re finished treating them because they’ve reached their treatment goals, or the client needs a higher level of care, be sure to formally discharge them.

Along with proper documentation, this may involve scheduling one final therapy session.

“You should always do a formal discharge summary, ideally with the client, so you can have a conversation about how the treatment went,” says Tague. If the client is unreachable or unable to attend, it’s also ok to draft a discharge summary without them; you’ll want to include your reasoning and attempts to involve the client in your summary.

Step 3: Identify clients who may need an updated treatment plan

As your clients progress in their therapy journey, you’ll eventually need to update their treatment plan with new goals. Compliance plays a role in this process. Every payer plan has different requirements about how often to update clients’ treatment plan.

“If you’re part of an audit, they’ll ask to review your treatment plans, and they may feel concerned if they’re very outdated,” says Tague.

As a rule, aim to update your treatment plans every 3–6 months, or sooner if it’s needed. You may decide to update your treatment plans when a treatment objective has been achieved, or when you and your client sense that the treatment trajectory needs adjustment.

“You can update treatment plans anytime it’s clinically necessary,” says Tague. “The important thing is to consider what’s best for your clients, and whether or how you can meet their needs.”

Headway is a free service that makes it easier and more profitable for therapists and psychiatrists to accept insurance.

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