Beaverlog Tips: Volume 37 - August 30, 2007
Windows Vista Compatibility
[Editors Note: The THERAPIST Pro has been modified to be compatible with Windows Vista. A Vista compatible update to The THERAPIST EZ is in the works but is still a couple of weeks away.]
Microsoft has presented us with a unique set of challenges in making The THERAPIST work under Window Vista. The words "Damn you Bill Gates" were heard here several times amidst many groans and moans over the last couple of months as we worked to make our software Vista compatible. I won't get too technical here but Microsoft went more than a bit overboard in its quest to harden Windows against attacks by malicious programs such as viruses, ad-ware, spy-ware, etc. Laudable as that goal is, making Windows more secure made things ever so much harder for regular users to do anything useful. Couple that with Microsoft's praiseworthy ambition to make each user's experience unique and you get a foundation of shifting sands and very little concrete to build with.
Many of the problems we had to face with Vista compatibility concerned where we could put data and other files. The former default location of putting the data in a folder immediately below the program itself was based on recommendations from Microsoft. Under Vista, however, this is a big no-no and won't work, well, it sort-of works if you have only one user on the computer but fails miserably if there is more than one user needing to access The THERAPIST. Another location question involved Configuration or INI files. These text files are used to store and pass information used locally by all users on a computer. Another of Microsoft's previous recommendations had these files in the Windows folder. Again, a no-no under Vista. How about using the program folder for INI files? Nope, not there either. Only program files are now supposed to be placed under Program Files. That makes a lot of sense and now Vista enforces it in myriad insidious ways.
Turning to Microsoft's own documentation on Vista, we found conflicting information. In one place, we are told to place data in a folder only to discover that not only is this location a hidden folder, files created there are also accessible only to the original user. I don't even want to go into what it took to find a location also available, should you choose, to other users over a network.
If you really want to go cross-eyed with confusion, try dealing with a new Vista "feature" of virtualization. It's not completely new but they went crazy with it in Vista. Folders appear and disappear depending on the currently logged in user. They are not hidden and unhidden, oh no, that would be too simple. They are not really folders at all, they just look and work that way but can be non-existent when another user logs in. They are doing the same thing with sections of the registry. If you are not familiar with the registry, count your blessings.
To deal with all of this, we had to make several changes to the program, as you can imagine. We also had to purchase a new program to build our installations. You can see the results when you install the latest update to The THERAPIST Pro.
Beaver Creek Software has entered into an agreement with Smile Reminder. Smile Reminder sells a service where they read appointment and other information from The THERAPIST and can then use that information to send appointment reminders and birthday greetings to your patients via email or text messages directly to their cell phones. You can also send newsletters and surveys. It is a very cool system. Check it out.
Our agreement with them was to provide our data structures and a way to access them. They will buy a small piece of software from us and install it on your computer along with their software. All of this is included with their normal setup charge, there is nothing additional to pay to us and we are not getting a commission, just the small amount we make on the access software.
Imagine how much extra money you can make by reducing the number of no-shows. You can find out more on the web at www.SmileReminder.com or call them toll-free at 1-866-605-6867.
Save Time Setting Up New Practices
This article will be a benefit primarily to billing services. Every time you add a new provider to your service, you add a new practice to The THERAPIST and it can take a significant amount of time to enter some information that is mostly the same from practice to practice. Specifically, we're talking about Carrier information. The carrier names, addresses, and phone numbers and many other settings don't change from practice to practice so why should you have to enter them every time? This article will use a couple of tricks you can use to eliminate that chore.
In brief, what you do is decide which of your existing practices has the most complete list of carriers. Then you copy the carrier information to the Sample practice where you can edit it to remove any practice-specific information, then you copy the modified carrier list from the Sample practice to a special folder.
Step 1, selecting the practice with the most complete list of carriers is a simple matter of looking at the carrier list in each practice. In general, the one with the largest number of carriers is the one you should choose. It is easy to do a rough count by going to the carrier list and counting how many times you have to press the PgDn key to get to the bottom of the list.
Once you know which practice you want to start with, make note of its folder number. This is the number on the right of your list of practices. Write that number down. With that number in hand, we move to step 2, copying the carrier information to the Sample practice. This step takes you out of The THERAPIST and into Windows Explorer. It is beyond the scope of this article to show you how to use Explorer but it shouldn't be hard to figure out. But first, there is one more piece of information you need from within The THERAPIST. Go to the Help menu and select About The THERAPIST. On the About screen, click the Information button. On the next screen, select the Paths tab and look for the Data Path. Either write this down of highlight it and copy it to the clipboard with Ctrl+C.
For this step, you don't have to have The THERAPIST closed but it is ok if you do. Now, open Windows Explorer (NOT Internet Explorer). This is sometimes called "My Computer" on your desktop. You can also get there by right-clicking on your Windows Start button and choosing Explore from the popup menu. Usually, you will see a screen divided into two sections. The left section is a list of folders and special places on your computer while the right side shows the contents of whatever you are highlighting on the left side. Drives are displayed with a drive name usually followed by a drive letter and colon in parentheses (e.g. Local Disk C (C:)). Drives can be expanded to show the folders on that drive by clicking on the little [+] to the left of the drive name. Folders can (and usually do) have subfolders within them. You can open a folder to see the subfolders by clicking on the [+] to the left of a folder name. We are going to drill down to the data folder. If your data path is c:\Program Files\The THERAPIST\Data, first expand drive C: (if it is not already), then expand Program Files folder, then The THERAPIST folder and finally expand the folder called Data. With the Data folder expanded, look for a subfolder with the folder number of your selected practice (you did write it down didn't you?). Highlight that numbered folder and you will see a big list of files on the right side of the Explorer window.
Carrier information is stored in four files:
You may or may not see the .tps part of the file name depending on you Explorer settings. Highlight these four files. After the first file, you must hold down the Ctrl key when clicking the next file or the first file will be deselected. When you have all file selected, press Ctrl+C or use Explorer's Edit menu and select Copy.
Now move to the folder called Sample. It is at the same level as your numbered practice folder. Highlight Sample and press Ctrl+V or select Paste from the Edit menu. You will probably be asked if you want to overwrite the existing files. If you are completely sure you are on the Sample practice, go ahead and overwrite the files. If there is any doubt in your mind at all say No then double check and be sure that Sample is highlighted before pasting.
Close Explorer and go back to The THERAPIST. We won't be needing Explorer again soon. In The THERAPIST, select the Sample practice. You can now go to the Carriers list and edit it to your heart's content until you have a generic Carriers list.
There is one important note here. If you install an update to The THERAPIST before you complete all steps in this article, you may lose your changes.
When you have the Carriers list the way you want it, go back to Windows Explorer and, following the same procedure you used above, find and highlight the Sample folder again. This time select the same four files (these are the ones you modified). Copy the files with Ctrl+C then highlight the Default folder, again at the same level as the Sample folder and your numbered folders. Press Ctrl+V to paste the four files into this folder. There will be nothing in that folder initially so you will probably not get a message asking whether to overwrite any files.
You are done. Next time you create a new practice, The THERAPIST will find the files in the Default folder and copy them for you into the new empty practice. This is true for any practice files so you can follow a similar procedure for any other data you want to populate your new practices.
Availity and THIN Follow-Up
The latest news about Availity is promising. We, as a software vendor, have been moved to the "Approved" category so it will be easier for you to send your claims through Availity. For providers who were submitting claims through THIN, the good news is that the migration process to submitting to Availity can be completed within two business days so there should be little or no delay in getting your claims into production status. The bad news though is that the problems with the THIN system will not be fixed because the THIN system will be going away "soon." If you are submitting to THIN, you will have to migrate to Availity anyway or switch to a different clearinghouse.
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