Paperless lactation practice for less than $25USD/month
Can you really run a paperless lactation practice without spending a zillion dollars?
"I'm scared to sign up for a fancy system like IntakeQ or Practice Better or Acuity when I don't know if I'll have clients right away. I just can't justify the expense on top of everything else I need."
If this sounds like you, then let me first applaud your cautious approach to private practice. While certain things like encrypted email and credit card processing fees are a "cost of doing business" and therefore unavoidable, robust charting platforms with automations and lots of features are more of a "business expense" and therefore optional.
You can, however, keep your costs of doing business to under $25USD/month by using the following services.
What you need
G-Suite for encrypted email, document storage, intake forms, and hosting your website. Current pricing is $6USD/mo and has compliance for HIPAA, GDPR, and PIPEDA, among others. Your country is probably covered. And if you want 20% off your first year, use code M4CAKNY6VDDYG46.
Add Google Voice to your G-Suite for $10USD/month and have an encrypted second line suitable for client calls and texts.
Srfax for fax. The interface is super easy to use, and HIPAA-compliant plans are as low as $6.50USD/month.
Sign up for online payments through SquareUp, so you can take credit cards (including HSA/FSA in the US). They will take a small fee per transaction, but in exchange you'll get an online scheduler that you can embed into your website. You only pay SquareUp if someone pays you, and you can consider that expense when coming up with your consult fees.
Finally, you'll want secure messaging. ("What's that?" you ask? Read this.) Signal is a free app that stores nothing in the cloud. You're not able to back it up, and that's what makes it safe. You'll have to be diligent about charting any client conversations you have on Signal, because they'll disappear if anything happens to your phone.
So for $22.50USD/month you can be 100% paperless in your private practice. As your business grows, you'll likely end up moving into a more comprehensive all-in-one platform. This DIY approach does require management on your part which becomes more difficult when you get busier. But that means you'll be able to afford to spend more on a platform, or continue to keep costs low.
Make sure you’re doing it right
And with the money you've saved, you can budget in the Lactation Private Practice Essential Toolkit, which will give you the confidence to know that you're running your DIY practice in the most efficient, ethical, and productive way possible. The Toolkit includes:
open-and-go intake forms and charting templates designed for G-Suite with step-by-step training
strategies and scripts for effective client communications
full explanation of privacy regulations to help you understand your ethical obligations
attorney-reviewed payment policies that include a disclaimer about one of SquareUp's problematic features
full training on secure messaging
virtual consult with me for further help on areas where you feel stuck
...and of course attorney-reviewed consent for care, social media policies, a guide to insurance coding and billing, and full training on all the other platforms you're hearing about. With free upgrades for life!
Natalie Gates IBCLC has been using the Toolkit for almost a year and she has this to say, "I have been 100% satisfied with all of Annie’s resources. I have absolutely depended on her books, products, and experience in setting up my private practice. I can honestly say that I’m not sure I would HAVE a private practice without Annie!"
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Annie Frisbie, MA, IBCLC is the creator of the Lactation Consultant Private Practice Toolkit, a collection of books, resources, legal forms, training manuals, and workbooks designed to help private practice lactation consultants build a private practice that’s ethical, profitable, sustainable, and enjoyable.
In 2018 she was honored with the US Lactation Consultant Association's President's Award. Through her popular blog, online store, podcast, and one-on-one coaching, Annie has helped thousands of lactation consultants grow their businesses with simple systems that make their lives feel easier and more joyful!