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Episode 11: 5 Methods for Faster ABA Re-Assessments

February 23, 2024

Episode 11: 5 Methods for Faster ABA Re-AssessmentsMelissa Druskis, M.S., BCBA, LBA
00:00 / 01:04

In this episode we're talking about how to save time and implement proactive strategies to write treatment plans and conduct re-assessments with less time and greater efficiency.

Be sure to check out our time-saving tools mentioned in the episode below:

  • Masterclass: Assessment and Report Writing includes 4.0 CEU's giving you all the training you need to master assessment selection, report writing, treatment goal development, and more.

  • The Report Writing Package includes over 30 documents to make report writing easier, including report templates, treatment goals, FBA cheat sheets, and more!

  • The Program Library is an ever-expanding collection of treatment goals that can be input into an electronic data collection system or printed for a binder system, includes treatment goals, prompt levels, SD descriptions, target lists, summary graphs, and in editable documents to customize for your clients.

This podcast can earn:

0.5 CEU

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Please note that this is a computer generated transcript and errors may be present.

Today we are going to take a look at five methods for writing faster and more effective treatment plans. So I know when I had a full caseload as a behavior analyst, seeing those due dates come up for my re evaluations was not something that I look forward to. I you know if you know my work if you know ABC behavior training probably think I've always just been the most organized person, and that is not the case. I definitely have been a procrastinator and a perfectionist which leads to more procrastination, because I want things to just be perfect or a certain way So that's why so many tools that I have that are out there that really help us organize our life as behavior analysts, I created to help organize my own professional life and my own work that I was doing. So I definitely especially as a new behavior analyst, seeing those due dates come up especially when you start at a new company you have maybe, you know over half of your caseload started as new clients with you which means that their reauthorization dates are all coming up at the same time So maybe you have three reports or six reports do or something crazy like that So it can be really overwhelming to kind of churn out these treatment plans make sure that they are high quality that you're not going to deal with insurance denials that you don't have typos and incorrect information in them, and that it has everything in there that you need to be a quality treatment plan and that it also isn't taking you ten hours to write it because those treatment plans can get really lengthy, and sometimes it feels like you have been working on the same one forever. So I have five ways that you can help, optimize this optimize your workflow, deliver a high quality treatment plan without having a lot of extra effort on your time, or you know having to sit down at your computer for like one whole day churning this out.

So the number one method I have for this is regularly update goals and progress. Now if you work with behavior analysts that have been doing this for a while you may have already been given this advice. Maybe it's something you're already doing And if so that is fantastic because I think this is one of the number one ways that you can improve your treatment plans, but you should have your initial assessment Right And that's not one of my items listed here but having a very strong initial assessment that wasn't you know just spit out really quickly. to get services going something that was really thorough great parent interview. All of that needs to be really solid foundation. But if you have that, then you're going to build upon what's already in there when you're looking at progress updating progress and goals and adding new goals So as you're going through, I'm going to go with six months because that's normally the authorization period that I work with But as you're going through your six months Obviously your client is making progress on goals. They are probably getting new goals added or maybe you're adjusting goals once you get to know the client And all of that is fantastic like do that throughout the authorization period, but when you do that you should be updating that treatment plan. So that doesn't mean you need to take it out every single supervision session but I dedicate once a month at least, sometimes more, but at least once a month to go through and update that treatment plan with the current progress and any changes or additions to goals that are in there And make that a habit to review that regularly You can also utilize this in your parent training to let the parents know where they're at on the goals what their progress is I've done that before where I've just copied that goal section out of the treatment plan. Use that to make updates over time and that's the thing that I would share with the parents during those parent meetings to go over progress. And that will also help keep parents in the loop with any changes and give you indicators of if based off of what the parents are seeing at home if you're not doing home health maybe if you're in a clinic setting, and how you can make modifications based off of that So this is a really proactive approach. It's going to not only ensure that your plans are always aligned with the current client's current needs, but also is going to reduce your workload when it's time to submit your progress reports or renew your authorizations because I think that that is probably one of the most time consuming things that I encounter when I'm doing my reports is having to go through those graphs and figure out, okay these are the goals and what's the progress When did we make change to this and what was that change and what was the reasoning behind it, and going and tracking down all of that information for the past six months. Is really time consuming. So just do it as you go you can also do that for the assessments you know if you have a kid and you're working on the VB Mapp and they're mastering goals that you have, that might be related to some of the VB map assessment tasks, you can fill that in over that six month authorization period as well because while you shouldn't be writing your goals directly from the assessment and just basically teaching the assessment, Obviously the assessment is there to guide your treatment plan development. So having that updated as well as you see that their mastering goals master that out on the assessment That's going to save you time when it comes to doing the reassessment. Now of course you're still going to have to assess the client with certain things but you will know like I've seen them tacked five common objects. We've worked on that as a goal They've already done it We're working towards you know ten or fifteen objects now So you can go ahead and mark that off on the VB map because you know they have it It's not something you'll need to directly assess as like a brand new skill like you've not seen it before because you did They've mastered it So I would say that is really the number one item that you need to keep in mind So if you don't listen to the rest of this podcast although I do recommend that you do so you can hear the other ones I would say that is the biggest takeaway and the biggest time saver.

Now number two, using customizable templates. So I feel like most companies have some sort of report template that you have to use So you probably can't completely create your own. But I do recommend if you don't already have this given to you, with your company materials that you utilize whatever it is that you need to for the company that you're working for and create a blank an easily fillable report template that you can use, you know find and replace to replace you know client name doctor, parents name like whatever it is that you fill in that you're able to make those changes based off of a template and then continue working off of the template. Because one thing that unfortunately I have seen a lot of times even with experienced BCBA is doing this is that instead of working off of this like blank customizable template for a treatment plan, that you pull another client's report, and then you go in and you just like replace all of the client's names, But sometimes not all the names get replaced, and then you have incorrect pronouns scattered throughout your report You have unfortunately incorrect client names scattered throughout your report because maybe there was a typo, and one of them got missed. And that is just not really ethical or you know something that is a high quality report that we want to be submitting to insurance. If you have all of those errors in there. And that also can lead to issues of just not customizing programs as well that you're just pretty much using somebody else's template and making the necessary adjustments and then then sending that in So if you have a template and it can just be a word document, you can have fill in the blank sections throughout sometimes I even create a guide at the very beginning of my template, like, you know in brackets It's like client name This is the thing that you need to find and replace all for pronouns for parent names for doctors, for authorization dates for date of birth whatever that is So you know what it is you're auto replacing throughout the whole thing. And if you have that with those you know fill in the blank sections for all of the essential information, that is going to make it a lot more streamlined when it comes to writing your report. and it's going to eliminate a lot of the errors if you didn't already have that and you're just copying some other client's report And it's going to save you time over just having to type all of that in as well. Now if you do not have a consistent template that you use for your company, I have a Masterclass and also a report writing package The Masterclass is assessment and report writing. It is four CEUs I believe, four or four point five CEUs, where we go over assessments how to select assessments how to conduct them, how to write goals how to write reports, how to you know back up your reports and get buy in for the goals that you're writing pretty much everything you need to know about assessment and report writing And then the report writing package actually has these templates in there So I have templates for initial assessments and I have templates for reevaluations and my templates I actually have like writing in there that gives you some more detailed instructions but it has also in there like those blanks where you can go and decide what you want to create as like that fill in the blank where you want to go and replace all but it has everything like highlighted for you So you know where to go in and type in the information. And then it's pretty seamless from the initial assessment which is one template That's going to be different than your reevaluation. But it's easy to take that information and then move it over to the reevaluation template when you do that reassessment. So I think that's you know one way to also streamline this I feel like if you're having to really write in or type all of this from scratch that's going to be a lot of extra time for you If you're taking somebody else's template and trying to make those changes, you risk having a lot of errors and also a lot of extra time having to check all of that. So definitely using customizable templates, that are blank templates that you can go in and fill in all the relevant information.

My third tip is to create a program library. Now I did just say when you're copying a client's you know another client's report template and just using that you risk not customizing your programs. So when I'm talking about creating a program library. That is not what I mean building a program library should be something that is for you I mean it can be company wide too I also have a program library of really an ever growing number of programs at but I utilize those things as customizable programs It's not like you know let's pull programs directly from the assessment that we used because that's not good We're not testing We're not teaching the assessment We're not teaching the test We should be teaching functional skills. But as you're writing these unique programs or you know you're using already existing program library that you can customize Then having that that you can pull from that's like an editable document that you can make the adjustments, that's going to make it a lot easier for you because, yes we are absolutely going to have clients that are going to have some goals that You have never used before It's not in a program library, but you're also going to have clients that they're working on gross motor imitation. And that's going to be pretty standard across a lot of clients. Depending on making your adjustments for the prompt levels that you're using But this is something that you should create and you should continue to add to That's how I created my program library that I have on my website, at is because I created it for myself So I started writing goals that I would write into my treatment plans Right some of them were pretty consistent some of them were really unique and out of the box and I didn't use them with a lot of clients but I still put them in there. I had different categories like are we working on language communication social skills, reducing challenging behaviors whatever that is I would sort my goals into those categories So every time I did a new assessment, and wrote new goals that weren't already in my program library I would just copy it and put it over there So I would have it to reference, and then I wouldn't be having to think of new goals every time Although I did I mean a lot of them I could look at make some adjustments to and put it into this treatment plan or if I did write a brand new goal I could add it to my library and put it into this treatment plan. And then it also helped with actual program implementation too because along with the goal not just having the goal in there I would also start creating lists of targets that we were going to work on that might be like lists of actions or common objects based off of the resources and and materials that I was using with clients. it also could be various steps that you could take if it was more of a task analysis type thing And again, all of this was customizable. All of this I would adjust for my client based off of what it is that they needed specifically. But by leveraging the use of the program library I could significantly reduce the time spent, reinventing the wheel basically, and focus more on tailoring the interventions to the individual client needs. So again this was another really big time saver If you don't already do this I highly recommend you start doing it go through some of your treatment plans start creating this program library, If you want to check out mine you can do that as well going to I'll actually put the link below so you can take a look at it And then my program library I actually have them as like printable documents i know nobody uses binders anymore with paper data. but it can still be used for that It has the goal the reasoning the SD prompt levels, and then it has like lists of targets, or lists of steps if it's a prompt fading or if it's a task analysis, And all of those are in the sheets for every single program that I have in there. And again that's how I would use it. Even though I might be using you know some sort of electronic data collection system, even if you're not actually printing out those documents, You can still use that as a reference Their word documents you can adjust them You can add your own targets You can do whatever you want with them But it was a really great resource to be able to look at that and have that to make adjustments to add into the programs and individualize them for your clients.

Now number four, is utilizing technology and automation. So like I said I know we don't use paper pens data Some of you do I think it is one hundred percent fantastic If you do I feel like we're so much more in touch with the data and changes that need to be made and actually reviewing stuff instead of just glancing at a graph that we didn't create, but I know that's not the reality for most of us out there. So to speed this up you still absolutely can embrace technology and automation tools to streamline your treatment planning process. So there's a bunch of different software programs and apps available that are designed specifically for this, which is going to offer features like goal tracking data collection report generation. speaking of those templates a lot of times there are programs that will just create your treatment plan for you Now every time I have utilized something like that I didn't like it. I didn't feel like had enough control over what it was that that I had that I was using but these tools can help really automate a lot of those repetitive tasks organize the client data more efficiently and generate professional looking reports with minimal effort as long as you have the ability to make other to them after the fact as you need to. So by leveraging this technology you really can save time reduce errors and focus more on analyzing the data and implementing effective interventions. So this is something that will speed up the process but I would also say that you need to have the right tools that are doing the things that you want because that's what they are Right They are tools. They're not a replacement for a BCBA They're not a replacement for data analysis. It is a tool that should make things go faster. And that's how we should use them Now even if you are not using a system to, you know do all of the data collection and all of those things chances are you're still using Excel. So you can also make sure that you have like a good template a graphing template in Excel. I of course I have one of those two that I created. That you can have your six months of data in that you can make adjustments to the graphs And the way that I have it set up is that you can just like print the tabs as a PDF, and then take those graphs and input a graph for every, you know every program that that you're working on so you can demonstrate progress across all of the programs, or look at cumulative targets mastered or however it is that you're graphing and reporting that information to insurance So even if you don't have software that's doing this, still utilizing excel or utilizing, something like that That's going to streamline it So you're not having to really come reassessment time input all of this information, or create graphs from scratch whatever it is, utilize that And make sure you're doing it consistently along the way so you're not spending all that time just trying to create all of these graphs and data displays at the end when it's time to submit to your submit your report.

And then number five which I think is also very important is prioritized collaboration and communication. So again, part of our treatment plans Part of insurance requirements, we need to be collaborating and training parents. We need to be collaborating with other health care professionals if the client has occupational therapists speech therapists, you know if they're seen by medical specialists you may also need collaborate with the school, with their educators with their primary care physician whoever that is, you need to have a plan in place for regular and ongoing collaboration and communication with these other team members. Now if you work with them and everybody's like in the same clinic that's great It may it a lot easier. But if not it can be hard sometimes to track down these people and get meetings with them So if you're doing that on an ongoing basis let's say once a month you're touching base with these individuals through email or through an actual meeting when it comes time to your treatment plan that you're writing, and you need to report back on this collaboration or you need to make adjustments based off of this collaboration you will have already done it. So for parents, it's super vital I have had, clients hours reduce And eventually denied due to lack of parent participation in programs, not through lack of trying We tried very much but there was no participation They ended up stopping their ABA services. So for parents we know that this is really vital You need to be doing parent training parent meetings along the way and collecting data on that because you also should have parent goals in your treatment plan and be reporting data on those goals. But we also don't want to forget about those other people we should be collaborating with I feel like parents that's a given we know we need to do that, but you also need to attend those IEP meetings or at least follow-up with those individuals at the school talk to the speech therapist talk to the other professionals that are working with your client, because that is oftentimes a question when you have to go to peer review, some of those insurance companies you go to peer review every single time to talk about your report and defend it They're going to ask you about that collaboration with those other health care professionals And if you haven't done it, that's going to be a mark off of your report We need to have that collaboration. So making sure you have a plan in place for ongoing collaboration and communication about progress and goals is going to help you a lot when it comes time to writing that treatment plan for the reevaluation. You're not going to have to try and them down squeeze in meetings and figure out what it is that they're doing because you will have already been doing it.

So those are my five tips for writing more effective and efficient treatment plans with less time and really a lot of that as you've noticed are proactive measures that you can take to make sure that you are doing this stuff on an ongoing basis so you're not drowning in all of these tasks when the reevaluation comes due. So look at incorporating these methods into what you're doing It's going to streamline your workflow It's going to help with collaboration and ultimately it's going to provide better services to your client and make your job easier and less stressful. So if there are any other things that you utilize for your treatment plan writing that makes life easier for you definitely reach out to me I would love to hear about them I'd love to hear about some of the other things you're using or if you do use some of these things. So let me know in the comments on social media shoot me a message on my website. And if you need more help on writing reports or doing assessments, Definitely head over to Check out that Masterclass assessment and report writing and the report writing package that is a perfect, perfect add on to that Masterclass because that's going to give you a lot of tools to you know to move forward confidently and make sure that you're writing effective treatment plans and doing high quality assessed months that are going to give you those goals that you need to work on the report writing package also has twenty of my programs from my program library in there You can also of course get that separately, which is you pay for it once and there's new programs added to it regularly. but if you want like a sample of twenty of them that's in that report writing package just to give you an idea of you know that program library that you can create. So thank you so much for listening today Hopefully this was helpful. And I will see you guys next week

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