7 Tips to Improve Data Collection and Usage for Your Physical, Occupational, or Speech Therapy Practice

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Your practice runs on data, but managing the sheer volume of information you collect on a daily basis can be overwhelming. Your EMR can help you practice data hygiene to help you make sure you’re only collecting relevant data needed by your practice and to ensure client data is safe and remains private. Here are 7 ways you can manage data collection cleanly:

1.     Prioritize Data Entry and Documentation

Occupational, speech, and physical therapists should establish efficient data entry and documentation practices to streamline the process. This includes using templates, predefined assessments, and dropdown menus within your EMR system to minimize manual entry and ensure standardized data collection.

Your data collection often starts with client intake. Some EMRs, like Fusion, offer customizable intake forms to make sure you collect the data you need, without useless information cluttering up your client record. Take some time to assess your needs: do you find yourself asking clients to fill out additional forms before their first visit? Are you always asking the same questions? If so, it might be a good idea to add these questions to your intake form.

2.     Use Data Filters and Customizable Reports

EMR systems often provide tools to filter and sort data. Therapists can use these features to narrow down information and focus on specific client criteria, timeframes, or treatment outcomes. Customizable reports allow providers to generate insights and summaries tailored to their specific needs.

Using reports and filters allows you to quickly parse through data, cutting through the noise to help you find actionable insights. The right reports can help a practice understand which payers give them trouble, how many clients finish their treatment, or which staff members are behind on documentation. Data is worthless if you can’t put it into context, so be sure to learn how your EMR’s reporting works to create reporting that works for your practice.

3.     Collaborate with Your IT Department or EMR Vendors

Seek assistance from your IT department or EMR provider to customize data entry forms, develop templates, and set up shortcuts. These optimizations can save time and improve data collection efficiency. Having a dedicated expert can help you find all sorts of automation and efficiencies you never knew you had at your disposal. In addition, IT or EMR vendors are well-versed in data hygiene practices and can help you de-clutter without losing valuable data.

4.     Establish Data Management Policies and Procedures

Developing comprehensive data management policies and procedures ensures consistent practices for data entry, storage, access, and security. These protocols should include guidelines on data backup, user access levels, and compliance. These procedures should be written clearly and easily accessible for review. This will be very helpful for your staff, who can follow along and verify if they’re doing the right thing. Establishing these policies means you’ll have to spend less time auditing and cleaning up your data practices in the long run. Compliance should be baked into your operating procedures to avoid issues.

Ask yourself: are you collecting the data you need? Do you find yourself sifting through useless information or having to reformat data? If so, it’s time to update your procedures.


Collect data during service with our guide to point-of-care documentation.


5.     Regularly Review and Analyze Data

You’re not collecting data for the sake of collection. Data can be analyzed and reviewed to help you improve and grow your practice. Clinicians, practice owners, and billers should set aside dedicated time to review and analyze collected data. This allows for the identification of trends, evaluation of treatment outcomes, and continuous quality improvement. EMR systems often offer built-in analytics and reporting tools that therapists can leverage for this purpose.

Create dashboards and reports that focus on the metric your practice needs to focus on. For example, you might want a billing report that includes aging accounts receivables or claim status to stay on top of insurance billing. If your practice offers services from multiple specialties, analyzing that data could help you understand that you need to hire additional staff or order new tools for a popular service.

6.     Consider Data De-Identification and Security

If sharing data for research or quality improvement purposes, physical, occupational, and speech therapists should follow de-identification protocols to protect client privacy. This involves removing or encrypting personally identifiable information before sharing data with external parties.

7.     Seek Continuing Education and Training

To effectively manage EMR data, physical, occupational, and speech therapists can benefit from ongoing training and education on the features, functionalities, and best practices of their specific EMR system. This ensures you’re maximizing the potential of the EMR and staying up-to-date with new developments.

Fusion offers educational webinars recorded for your convenience, as well as articles, gifs, screenshots, and videos to help you understand how to use Fusion and keep up with updates and features.

By leveraging your EMR’s capabilities and creating data management procedures, you can practice better data hygiene to make sure your data is compliant, useful, and secure. But data goes beyond collection: use reports to contextualize and focus on metrics that tell you how your practice is doing – and what you could do better.

Fusion offers the tools you need to collect the helpful data and metrics you need to run your practice. With our Insights capabilities, you can quickly and easily act on the information you collected to make adjustments. Let us show you what Fusion can do. Schedule a demo today.

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