Healthcare providers are everyday heroes — they keep us safe, heal our wounds and make strides towards a better quality of life for the entire human race. What patients don’t see is all the work that goes into managing a medical practice behind the scenes. The purpose of medical practice management software is to help providers manage every element of their practice from a single platform.
Think of medical practice management (MPM) as the Jarvis to your Iron Man. You’re busy saving lives and making the world a better place — do you really have time for repetitive data entry tasks? Of course not! MPM can help with those kinds of tasks so your staff’s time is free to save the world — or at least give out some flu shots.
What is Medical Practice Management Software?
So what is MPM exactly? Basically, it takes the disparate needs of healthcare offices like medical billing, appointment scheduling, physician management and electronic medical records and delivers them all in a convenient package. Pretty great, right? And it’s only going to get better. Everyone knows healthcare is growing, and that’s good news for those who provide it. To keep up with that growth, MPM is constantly innovating to offer providers new and exciting ways to make their jobs easier.
How to Choose Medical Practice Management Software
So you’ve decided to get medical practice management system, but now you’re faced with a dilemma — how do you choose one? Are you a specialist office that requires unique modules? Or a family practice that only needs the basics? It can be overwhelming to say the least, but we’ll break it down a bit more.
Your medical practice is unique, and you need an integrated practice management software that will cater to your specific requirements. Too often, medical practices — especially small practices — choose single-purpose systems like EHR software that aren’t robust enough to fulfill all their needs. Then they have to implement several systems that end up adding more manual tasks than they automate. This happens more often than you’d think, and is a symptom of practice management software that isn’t integrated with other medical software.
The goal for any medical practice should be to find a centralized practice management software. A centralized platform keeps everything automated, leaving more time for more important tasks. For example, you can focus more on providing outstanding patient care. The top practice management systems offer a range of integration options to ensure your practice runs at peak performance. If you’re looking for practice management integrations, here are some key features you should look for:
Medical Billing Software
Although your number one priority should be your patients, your practice is still a business. To run it successfully, you need to stay on top of your billing at all times. While some MPM systems offer medical billing modules robust enough to handle all your billing needs, many offices choose to utilize separate medical billing software. If you go that route, it’s imperative to make sure your medical practice management software can integrate with your medical billing platform — otherwise, you’ll be condemning your desk staff to a lot of data entry!
Medical billing software automates the billing process, sending bills after appointments and tracking payments. The last thing you want is to have bills that never get sent out. Billing capabilities are great for patients too — they allow your patients to view and pay bills online, send automatic payment reminders and help track denials to their resolution. Integrating a medical billing system also allows you to view your patients’ health and billing information side-by-side, making insurance eligibility verification a breeze.
Speaking of health information, an electronic health records system (EHR)/electronic medical records (EMR) system is another critical integration. I know, I threw a lot of acronyms at you just now. EMR/EHR have some technical differences, but are used interchangeably by almost everyone in the industry. That being said, EHR and medical practice management software aren’t the same thing. At its most basic, the difference is in scope: medical practice management software can offer EHR functions, but EHR typically doesn’t offer MPM functions.
An EHR is one of the most useful tools in a medical office’s arsenal. What EHR is most useful for is serving as a database for your patients’ health data. This data includes chart notes, patient histories, allergy information, test results and previous diagnoses. Physicians can use this data to get a comprehensive overview of the patient’s history to quicken diagnosis and prescription. Many can also communicate with EHRs from other providers in order to collaborate on the care of a particular patient.
Medical practices are increasingly expected to offer a patient portal. Also known as a patient care portal, this tool is quickly becoming an industry standard. As we increasingly use the internet and the cloud, consumers in every industry expect their information to be accessible anytime, anywhere. A patient portal lets your patients log in and view their health history, diagnoses, prescriptions, bills and other important information.
In addition to helping automate processes such as billing and scheduling, it increases patient satisfaction. For example, instead of waiting a week or more to get test results sent in the mail, patients can receive automated alerts and log on to check results as soon as they’re ready. This can decrease anxiety when waiting for important test information and increase patient participation in their own care. It’s also a great marketing strategy for patient retention! Just make sure that it’s optimized for mobile devices to enhance the user experience.
Where does your practice’s relationship with a patient start? Is it during their first appointment, or when they schedule that first appointment? We’ll give you a hint — it’s the second one. Therefore, utilizing scheduling software, also known as an appointment scheduler, is a major requirement for everyone from solo practices to huge hospitals. MPM offers practice management appointment software, but depending on your needs it may be in your best interest to purchase an additional medical practice scheduling software system to handle your patient flow. If you do, make sure it’s compatible with your MPM!
Appointment scheduling software for medical offices can be especially beneficial to small practices. Chances are, you can’t afford to have your receptionists manage appointment scheduling and reminders all day. With the help of small medical practice management software, solo practices automate the entire process, allowing patients to go online and select a time that works for them.
Additionally, you can set an automatic reminder to send before each appointment. This makes it easier than ever to reduce the number of no-shows, which also means increased revenue. Scheduling modules can even schedule your staff and physicians, ensuring no one’s time is overbooked or under-utilized.
Let’s face it: physicians don’t always have the best handwriting when writing prescriptions. It’s a stereotype for a reason! Although it’s relatively rare, prescriptions occasionally get mixed up due to poor handwriting. An ePrescribing system makes the prescription fulfillment process easy for physicians, pharmacies and patients, as well as mitigating the potentially life-threatening risks of incorrect prescriptions.
After diagnosing a patient, you can fill out an online form that sends directly to the pharmacy. This streamlines the process by eliminating time-consuming calls or making the patient wait after bringing the note to their pharmacy. With an ePrescribing integration, the prescription data automatically updates into your EHR after it sends. So you get to say goodbye to manual data entry, too.
As an added bonus, ePrescribing alerts physicians of other medications a patient is currently taking. This prevents dangerous medication interactions that could slip through the cracks using older methods. The ePrescribing feature keeps your patients safe, your pharmacists happy and your physicians organized!
Now we come to a tool that’s commonly thought of as big-business software. Business intelligence (BI) is useful for every size and type of business. Although it doesn’t serve a direct medical purpose, it can be very valuable for both the marketing side of your practice and for optimizing your performance. BI tools gather data from your day-to-day operations and display it in easy-to-navigate dashboards.
Medical business intelligence software provides real-time insights into your customers (or in this case, your patients). For example, you can get a demographic overview of your patient base. Let’s say you’re a family practice; you might look at the marriage status of your patients and find that you’re actually attracting more singles than families. This type of insight can lead you to switch up your marketing efforts to attract more families. More families means more patients, which means more revenue and a more successful practice.
Integrating a BI tool with your practice management tools allows all of your data to work together, both eliminating data entry and providing you with powerful insights. You can use this to identify pain points in your practice — is one physician seeing significantly fewer patients than others? Do encounters with a specific physician last much longer than they should to meet productivity goals? It can even help identify potentially illegal activity like medication theft or patient abuse.
Although using practice management software is almost universally a great way to improve your practice, you’ll get the most out of it by ensuring proper integration. An integrated platform for practice management can make all the difference in the productivity and efficiency of your office. Remember — physicians are superheroes, and you deserve sidekick software that’s as super as you are.
What’s the most useful feature of MPM for your practice? Do you have any horror stories from software that couldn’t integrate? Let us know in the comments!