Monday, September 26, 2016

Comparison of different practice management software for psychologists

Another fantastic and informative blog post by Dr Bridget Regan. Enjoy!

She compared five practice management programs and summarized features of each in a table.  She wrote that all of these plans provide core servicdes such as: calendar and schedules, invoices, automatic text messaging to clients, patient records, andfinancial reports. All offer integration with xero. Bridget tried out Health Kit and Coreplus but has yet to look as closely at the other three.

Bridget has decided to go with Health Kit as it is easy to use and the cheapest option (for her relatively small one person practice) and with its online payment and claiming system enables her to avoid purchasing an eftpos machine.  It looks as if they will have better online booking systems and secure messaging soon. 

Global Health
Power Diary


Free to use core software
22c for each online medicare/ DVA claim
$1 for each credit card payment 2% merchant fee
22c for each text message

$45 per month for ehealth plan

$45 per month (one practitioner)

$46 per month

$46 per month (but currently 50% off)
General Comment

Really easy to use.  Making an appointment allows you to set up everything else (invoice, referrer etc.).  They include as drop down options all of the possible codes for services (e.g., medicare code, DVA code, APS code etc.) .
OK to use - encountered a couple of minor issues when trialling(e.g., you MUST enter a provider number for referrer). Might be really good and more cost effective for larger practices. Has the most ad on programs including  Health Engine (for online booking and inclusion on their website), speech recognition software, marketing options etc.
Very easy to use. Can use across multiple platforms (e.g., mobile app available)

Recommended by APS mainly due to secure messages (I suspect).
Easy to use.
Medicare and DVA claiming

Can be undertaken online using the software – you don’t need an eftpos machine
You can link to Tyro Eftpos ($39 per month + merchant fees).  Once you create your invoice on coreplus it  transfers the information via blue tooth to tyro.
Creates invoices but you need a separate eftpos or HICAPS machine.
Website says that it supports Bulk Billing, Easy Claims, Medicare Online & HICAPS – but I think you still probably need a separate eftpos machine
Creates invoices but you need a separate eftpos or HICAPS machine.
Online booking options

They currently have a directory (free to register) on which you can add a booking button for clients to book online (apparently they will offer a more attractive month per view format that you can add directly to your own website soon)
This is available via Health Engine (extra $49 per month)
Gorgeous looking month per view online booking tool that can be added direct to your website.
Not mentioned as a feature.
Has a client self-booking portal for website.
Secure Messaging*
They say they are in the process of developing their own system that will be launched in the next few months.
It is possible to receive messages from Argus and Health Link but not to send them!
Not available and no plans to develop this in near future.
They currently seem to offer the most comprehensive system “referral net” which enables both sending and receiving of messages.  Can be purchased separately for $315 per year.
Not available.
*Secure messaging as well as capacity to communicate with “my health record” is likely to become more important.  At Congress Lyn Littlefield mentioned that in order to communication with PHNs and participate in newly emerging mental health initiatives that psychologists are going to require these options.

Thank you, Bridget!

Monday, September 19, 2016

Peeking outside of the Wechsler Box

A terrific post from Dr Bridget Regan today. Enjoy!

Like most of us, I have been happily using my Wechsler WAIS and WMS as the backbone of my assessments throughout the 15 years I have been working as a neuropsychologist.  If ever in doubt, administer more subtests and gain more indices with increased psychometric rigor!  I’ve always been reassured that these tools and our face to face approach is the most reliable and most studied in brain disordered groups.  The most attention I have given to technology and neuropsychology was to trial the computer based versions of our existing scales and the vague thought that if possible I would like to be able to administer some tests online or via computer in my practice instead of administering all of them face to face.  However, there have always been some residual concerns about the reliability and validity of self-administered cognitive assessment tools and the challenges involved of keeping test takers motivated.
At the 2016 APS Congress, however, I became aware of some new approaches and technologies that have the potential to substantially improve the quality of our assessments (including online and self-administered) and it made me realise it is now well and truly time to start taking proper notice of what is happening outside of the Wechsler comfort zone! (and to keep reading this blog).  I learnt about these approaches in a conversation with a research psychologist who works for the military (Eugene Aidman also an Adjunct Ass Prof at Sydney Uni), in a talk by Jason Mattingly on the neuroscience of learning, and in the sports psychology seminar on neuro-technologies. 
New approaches include:
1)     CAT – Computerised Adaptive Testing.  This involves an approach to test development in which a very large number of test items are generated and for each item the level of difficulty is measured.  When a person is undertaking the test the computer decides which item to give next based on how well they have answered the previous items (as I understand it using something called Bayesian statistical inference).  CAT has the potential to improve the test experience (with items that match skill level) as well as to reduce the length of the assessment with better targeted items and to better test limits for high and low scorers.  There already seem to be a number of well researched and validated tools in the educational context (e.g., ACCUPLACER).  I’ve searched around the internet and found a few references in plain language such as the following article which describes CAT in educational settings. which I found at the International Association of Computerised Adaptive Testing (IACAT)
I only been able to find a few references to the use of this approach in the development of neuropsychological tests (one using matrix reasoning) but although it might be more challenging to develop than educational type assessments I can imagine it being done– does anyone know of any other new developments in the use of CAT for neuropsych/ cognitive assessment?

2)     Game based assessment approaches.  In order to improve the motivation and interest in undertaking computer based assessments some researchers are now attempting to embed psychometric assessment within a computer game format.  The Educational Testing Service (a large non for profit organisation in the US) has been at the forefront of test development and theory for many years has recently developed new protocols for this approach.  Here is an example of one of their developments Eugene Aidman has also previously pioneered embedded game based assessments see: Aidman, E. V., & Shmelyov, A. G. (2002). Mimics: A symbolic conflict/cooperation simulation program, with embedded protocol recording and automatic psychometric assessment. Behavior research methods, instruments, & computers, 34(1), 83-89. (See also 

3)     The use of neurophysiological measures such as EEG and eye movements in combination with cognitive assessment to increase their sensitivity to brain functioning.  My understanding was that in neuropsychology (at least from an assessment viewpoint) this type of approach is still largely within the research domain (e.g., Jason’s learning research), however, the sports psychologists at the congress seemed to be using a huge number of physiological measures in their assessment and treatment of athletes– including EEG.   A google search led me to a start-up company in the US called Neurotrack (who have 6.5 million in seed funding) and have a tool that combines a visual processing task with eye movement tracking (assessed via webcam) which is apparently very sensitive to preclinical Alzheimer’s disease.  See:
Apart from learning about these new technology based assessment techniques, of course we must not forget that modern cognitive neuropsychology researchers also keep gradually reworking and improving on some of our traditional measures.  At the congress there was a key note lecture from Prof David Babcock from UWA that outlined how his program of research has helped to update and improve on the use of the embedded figures test (and its sensitivity to autistic spectrum disorder) with more targeted and less noisy protocols for assessing local feature detection versus global sensory integration.  They have also developed an ipad testing kit.
Finally, if you are like me and wondering how on earth we are going to keep up with and integrate all of these developments (and still provide an affordable assessment!), I found this handy (2013) review of technology in neuropsychology on computer based assessment and virtual reality assessments.  Somewhat reassuringly it suggests there is still quite a bit of work to do in the application to brain disordered groups:
I guess that none of these developments are going to radically disrupt the basic (Wechsler) neuropsychological assessment approach for now…..

Monday, May 2, 2016

Power Diary for the management of a private practice

I just came across information about Power Diary - a practice management and scheduling tool - and I really like it.

It gives you scheduling tools that, apart from normal functionality, includes goodies such as client self-booking portal one can put on a website and the capacity to sync with Google Calendar. It can be used by a single practitioner or a whole practice. It keeps client data and has capacity to claim from Medicare. It handles billing and payments, and exports data to Xero accounting package if required.  Nice!

It promises good security - both in terms of backup and privacy. The product has been developed in Australia (by Damien Adler, a psychologist from Ballarat), so it likely meets all the privacy criteria we need - but always check this information for yourself.

I use a practice management system I developed for my needs, and I am unlikely to change, so I can't give you a personal review. Unless, that is, I get seduced by the joy of having a self-booking client portal on my website.

In the meantime, is anybody using it, and if so, can we have a review??



PS: Some good information sent by Daniel Jarvis:
Practice management software can get very convoluted.  Personally Power Diary wasn't going to work for me but was a close runner up. 
I would be really interested to see peoples thoughts on Power Diary measured against Healthkit and other services.  The APS had a resource on different services as well although I think it is starting to get dated now ( 

 Thank you Daniel!

Monday, February 8, 2016

Prosopagnosia goodies

Some famous people with prosopagnosia (mostly developmental):

1. Oliver Sacks - talks about living with face blindness here.

2. Dr Karl Kruszelnicki - his podcast on the topic here.

3. Brad Pitt - more info here.

4. Portrait Painter Chuck Close - an article and video here.

5. Jane Goodall - some information here.

Australian Prosopagnosia Register at Macquarie University for those who want to participate in research:

This website includes a link to face memory test you can take to find out how good you are at recognising faces. Here is a direct link.


Thursday, October 29, 2015

Happy Haloween!

Simple haloween plan for geeks and neuroscientists - check here.

How to make a red velvet brain cake here

Now for the sophisticated - panna cotta brains with raspberry blood sauce here.

Some savories: maggot infested brain shrimp cocktail here

Not as convincingly gory, but delicious: baked brie brains here.

Cauliflower brain dip here.

Now - something to drink. This one is very easy to make. Baileys in vodka curl up in just the right way. Full recipe here.

For the truly dedicated - exposed brain makeup tutorial here.

Have a great evening,

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The brain hat again

I have checked my blog statistics and the most popular post of all time, with almost 2.5 thousand views is about the brain hat.

The printouts and instructions on making an this pretty cool brain hat can be found here.

I' like to add that the website belongs to Ellen Johnston McHenry, who is a home-school curriculum author.  Among others, she published The Brain: An introduction to neurology for ages 8-14 - a very nice, comprehensive book that starts from zero and ends somewhere at the early undergraduate level while explaining everything gently. I've bought it and had a quick look and so far it looks excellent.

Worth having a look if you have a kiddie that is interested in what you do (here)!


PARiConnect - further thoughts

I have checked PARiConnect privacy provisions and they appear adequate for my purposes. It is  is HIPAA compliant (not that it matters for us in Australia) and states that it never accesses, mines or analyzes client data. There is encryption and no third party providers. However, I'd recommend that you check this for yourself so that you are in compliance with your ethical requirements.

I have now used PARiConnect to administer BRIEF to clients: both self assessment and parent assessment form. The assessment was very easy to use and had some validity screening built in (apart from the BRIEF-native validity scales, it also checked that all the questions were answered, provided the time the client took to fill in the form and how it compared to a typical administration time, and showed the clinician raw results to check for any unusual patterns).

I have also checked the pricing:
- TOGRA administrations are $2.50 each, with additional $2.50 for a report (sold with a minimum of 5)
- BRIEF administrations are $3.50 with $2.00 for scoring report or $6.00 fort interpretative report (also sold with a minimum of 5).

The prices are quite good: in comparison PAA's packet of 25 parent BRIEF questionnaires costs $121.00, which gives it a price of $4.84 per form, even before the shipping costs. I remember checking this a while ago and thinking that the electronic administration was very expensive - so either it has changed or I'm seeing US prices. However, the prices listed on the website ( are the same prices I'm seeing when I go to buy tests, so the worst I'd expect is that I'd be paying these in US dollars.

Some tests that we may find interesting are:
- various child behaviour inventories and scales
- depression and anxiety scales
- Frontal Systems Behavior Scale
- Behaviour Rating Inventory of Executive Function (BRIEF) - child and adult (version 2 coming but not there yet)
- Academic Achievement Battery (reports only)
- Feifer Assessment of Reading (reports only)
- Reynolds Adaptable Intelligence TEst (RAIT)
- Test of General REasoning Ability (TOGRA)
- Vocabulary Assessment Scales - expressive and receptive (reports only)
- Child and Adolescent Memory Profile (ChAMP) (reports only)

Considering that getting a PARiConnect account costs nothing, and that there are 3 free administrations and 3 free reports to try these out, this is a tool that is worth exploring.