EHRs qualify for a full review if they:
- Offer or make available a trial or demo account
- Answer questions about their product and related topics (security, HIPAA)
- Are focused on the needs of therapist in private practice
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Pros: Full Featured, Well Established, Customization and Training Available
Cons: Cost for Full Features, Learning Curve, Portions of Application Not Tablet/Mobile Friendly
Standout Features: Notes Options, Calendar, Client Portal
It’s a Good Choice For Practices That: Only need the basic features and are having their billing/e-claims handled elsewhere, or larger practices that can bear the cost of the additional integrated features.
Long-time readers may remember that I initially ruled Valant out as product for solo and small group practices to consider because of it’s pricing. Beginning as a Meaningful Use focused product for larger practices, it’s pricing was more in line with that tier of competitors. Still, they expressed an interest in targeting this market of solo and small groups, and followed through. They revamped their web site and developed a product and pricing model that, while still at the high end of this market, might work for some.
There are a lot of features in Valant that make it worth this consideration. One of their strong suits is that they offer multiple ways to handle documentation. Some may prefer the highly customizable Microsoft Word templates, allowing them to format their notes exactly as they’d like. Others will rather use the oddly named Mobile Notes that offer built-in assessments, lots of check-boxes and a utility that builds a narrative from the information entered and boxes checked. I say misnamed, because most applications called “mobile” are separate “apps” for tablets or smart phones. With Valant, mobile notes are simply formatted to be accessed and utilized via a web browser on a mobile device. Also offered are multiple note types including telephone and missed appointment notes.
When I was last provided a demo of some of Valant’s newest features there were improvements in the scheduling component, including support for multiple offices, searches for open appointments and wait list features. Even more impressive are the strides Valant has made in their client portal. In addition to providing secure messaging, clinicians can now create custom forms for clients to complete. This can include intake forms or assessments. While forms requiring a signature can be displayed, signatures can not yet be captured, though that will be coming in the future. Valant also now includes tracking and graphing of outcome measures based on a growing number of validated measures. They report they are also working toward more integration of administrative and clinical functions to make their system more friendly to solo providers.
Valant does have some significant potential drawbacks depending on your situation. A primary contributor to many of these is the core administrative application utilizes Silverlight, a Microsoft browser plug-in. One of the many downsides to Silverlight is that it is typically only fully functional in Internet Explorer or Firefox (sorry, Chrome and Safari users). In addition, it is not usable on most tablets and phones. It’s important to note that Valant’s Mobile Notes are build independently of this and can be accessed via any web browser. So, if a practice’s clinicians primarily only access the note taking portion of the program, Silverlight may not present an issue. If, however, most users will have a need to access administrative tasks, including scheduling, via a mobile device, Silverlight still presents a hurdle. This may be most applicable to solo and small group providers who don’t have an adminstrative assistant or separate computers.
Valant’s has made improvements, but the work flow still has a significant learning curve in determining how to navigate from one place to another. While the data is all linked within the database, the user interface doesn’t always make it easy to see this and intuitively find related data. They’ve addressed this through things like “Easy Nav” buttons and right-click menus, but the result is often awkward and interrupts the natural work flow of a solo or small group practice.
Also of note, Valant recently received additional funding that’s likely to contribute to continued improvements and development.
With the addition of the Client Portal, custom forms, and outcome measures at a price point of $100, Valant may be worthy of consideration, despite being more expensive than many competitors. With $80 per user per month being the cheapest plan that includes the billing component, it may still be cost prohibitive for solo and small groups who don’t want all the bells and whistles. Valant is a solid contender for larger groups with a significant budget.
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About the Author
Rob has been covering technology and business news for mental health professionals since 2011. His extensive experience in IT, business, and private practice allow him to synthesize information in a friendly, digestible manner. He also enjoys time with his family, ultimate frisbee, and board gaming.