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Creating an Intake Process Using a Practice Management System

I am hosting a webinar later this afternoon on “Creating an Efficient Intake Process” in Time Matters.  It is my first time hosting this webinar so I had quite a bit of last minute preparation to do.  Some of these are specific to Time Matters but here is a brief list some of the things I came up with:

Phone Inquiries.  Make it really easy for your staff to process phone inquiries.  Make sure everyone has the Add Phone Call button on their main toolbar.  Customize fields on the Phone Form to capture the information you need.  Train your staff to fill in the records correctly and route them where necessary.  Train your attorneys to review their phone list and process the return calls.

Determine What Information You Want to Collect.  Before you can customize your practice management system for intake, you have to figure out what information you want.  Some is obvious like address and phone information.  However, if you wan to use your data for other things like marketing, you may need to add some special fields to your database.  Some examples are a referral source, birthday, anniversary date and hobbies.

Customize Your Contact and Matter Forms.  Use Time Matters customization features to create fields to hold the information you need.  Separate contact and matter information as appropriate.  Use required fields where necessary (but don’t overuse them).

Use Time Matters Automation Features.  Time Matters offers a number of features that help you automate processes.  Save time entering data by utilizing AutoEntry Forms and Triggers.

Links to Other Applications.  Why enter data twice?  Time Matters has links to nearly every legal specific billing application there is.  Use these links to enter information in one place and have it flow to another (or several others).

Document Your Processes.  You have a great new intake system.  Now, make sure that it gets followed.  Create procedures and checklists for your staff to follow.  Do them on paper if you must or, better yet, use Time Matters Outlines for this.  Putting your intake process in a checklist makes it much easier for you to identify issues with the procedure and make sure it gets followed.  Have your staff help draft the procedure and they will feel like they have ownership of it – Instant Buy-In.

Toss the Paper.  It is time to eliminate some of the paper in your files.  All of those intake documents that you are currently saving in the paper file can be scanned and saved in the electronic file.  Yes, I know you have to keep some.  On the other hand, there are quite a few where you don’t need a paper copy and if you ever do, you can reprint the scan.

I would be interested in comments and thoughts from others on this.  My preparation for the webinar has given me enough information for a white paper on the subject once I have had a chance to present the webinar and get some feedback.

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