One of the most complicated scheduling components within larger ABA practices is matching staff with clients for sessions on the calendar. This becomes difficult with rotating schedules, unique client needs, geography, client preferences, language needs, difficulty level, and so much more. Having to do this matching manually takes time and resources that are not always available, causing issues along the way and making schedule creation tedious and time-consuming.
Real-World Scheduling for ABA Practices
Here’s a scenario that might sound familiar to ABA therapists and admin staff.
Let’s say an RBT were to call in sick one morning, with a cold. This puts your organization in a pinch without much time to figure out the next steps. The families your RBT would have met with that day need to be paired with other RBTs to fill the hole. It is not as simple as just pairing them with whoever is free, there are dozens of considerations that need to be taken into account when matching a family with a provider.
For example, let’s say one of the families that the provider was supposed to meet with has a dog. The RBT working with that family would need to be ok with dogs. In a more complicated light, let’s say that the family has a custodial parent whose primary language is not English, the RBT would need to be able to manage that dynamic. Taking it a step farther, what if the child needs to be lifted from time to time or that they are prone to violence and poor verbal communication. The RBT that is paired to work with them will need to be able to lift their weight and effectively manage the child’s range of emotions.
It is considerations like these that make matching providers to families so challenging. With a scheduling tool, providers can customize a list of considerations to help administrators match more easily. After checking off each factor that needs to be considered, a list of providers that work for that family will automatically populate. This tool not only takes into account the needs of the family but also their insurance needs, the provider’s abilities/needs, the geographical location of the visit, and who is available on the schedule. A quality scheduling tool streamlines and simplifies the entire process.
How Automated Scheduling Tools Can Help
Practices without smart scheduling tools have to match their clinicians to their clients manually. Or, practices with limited scheduling tools might lack visibility into all the criteria they need to consider for their calendar needs. This can be overwhelmingly complicated for larger practices with a range of clients with different needs and a host of providers with different characteristics.
Some of the most common details that need to be considered when matching therapist to client include:
Depending on what state your client lives in, their ABA therapists will need to be licensed in that state. Another licensing consideration is that insurance may require a certain level of licensing to cover the services being rendered. For example, insurance might stipulate that an RBT may render services with a specific CPT code, while a BCBA must perform curriculum planning and supervision. Many practices may have clinicians with backgrounds and licensure in nursing, social work, speech therapy, occupational therapy, education, and more. There will also be ABA clinicians working towards licensure whose training hours must be correctly tracked.
A quality ABA scheduling software will enable providers to track correct licensure throughout the scheduling process to ensure a client is not matched with a therapist that does not meet insurance authorization requirements.
For therapists that start their day with an in-home session, an ABA scheduling tool can organize their calendar and form matches based on geographic location. A provider should not be matched with one in-home appointment and then have to travel across the city to make it to their next client. This tool ensures that you only deliver care within a certain radius, matching clients to therapists based on location at the start of each day.
Another piece that providers need to consider is the amount of time their hourly staff has already worked or is scheduled to work weekly. Overtime is expensive and can be a budgetary surprise! When scheduling, a client should not be matched with a therapist that is almost to their hourly threshold and should only be matched to a clinician scheduled for less than forty hours that week. A quality ABA scheduling tool will automatically consider where your staff is on the payroll scale to ensure no one is overbooked.
Training and Supervision Hours
It is essential to track RBT/BCBA hours correctly throughout their training. Doing so manually can lead to errors and disruptions in their training and a headache for administrative and supervising staff. Having a way to track hours digitally can save time and ensure the accuracy of their training throughout their career. ABA scheduling tools are available to automate this process.
Client Specific Needs
Every client that a therapist works with is going to have different needs. These needs could include any number of things. For example, a family might come to a large practice and only be available for services three days a week or at certain times during the day. They might need to have a therapist who speaks a second language and can lift 50 pounds, for example. A quality ABA scheduling tool will track client needs, ensuring only appropriate staff members that meet those needs are placed with them.
Some families have preferences for specific clinicians that are essential to consider when matching the two. For example, a client might work better with a female therapist, or a family might prefer to work with a clinician who has a lot of experience rather than a newer one. These preferences can all be tracked and automatically taken into consideration when matching families with ABA therapists.
Ultimately, providers need a digital ABA scheduling tool that automatically takes all of this information into consideration before presenting who might be the right clinician for that client.