Running a doctor’s office or patient clinic comes with all the ordinary challenges of doing business, plus a host of healthcare industry challenges. These include a sprawling body of governmental and insurance regulations, continually-tighter budgets, and a plethora of patient concerns. Medical practice management software helps to streamline and automate the tedious and time-consuming activities at both the front desk and the back office. If you’re upgrading to a new system or are looking for your first medical practice software, there are several important considerations to make before you begin your search. Here is your guide to choosing the practice management system that best meets the needs of your bustling medical practice.
Choose Medical Practice Management Software That Can Accommodate the Entirety of Your Clinical Workflow
You’ll want a software system that is as feature-packed as possible in terms of what it can handle regarding the clinical workflow. Look for a system that can automate activities like appointment scheduling via a patient portal. A patient portal gives your patients direct access to their records whenever they want them, decreasing the number of calls your staff has to field on a daily basis. This not only makes them available for other work, but also frees up your phone lines for emergencies.
The right system allows you to collect a rich body of information, including your patients’ appointment histories (appointments they made, canceled, missed, etc.). You might also opt for a system that allows patients to log into the patient portal online ahead of their appointment time and complete their required forms. This saves time when they get to the office for their first appointment.
Most medical practice management software has document management capabilities, but you will probably want one that is capable of handling documents relative to imaging, such as X-rays. A good software system should also provide resource planning capabilities so staff can quickly and easily identify which patient rooms are available, what equipment is in use, and which staff members are tied up with patient care or other important activities. Finally, be sure you choose a system with robust accounting capabilities, including medical billing (both for insurance and patients), some collections capabilities, and features to handle your outgoing expenses.
Choose Software That Offers E-Prescribing
If you have never used e-prescribing, you and your staff are going to love it. E-prescribing functionality allows your office to send patient prescriptions to your patients’ pharmacy electronically, without the need for a signed paper prescription or a phone call by your staff. E-prescribing not only saves the medical practice time and money, it also makes the process of issuing prescriptions more secure.
Choose Software That Allows for Comments & Internal Messaging
The ability to make notes on patient records and accounts is incredibly handy. For example, if a patient discusses an unusual situation with one of your staff, the ability to make notes and share them internally means that your patient won’t have to repeat the explanation over and over. Your software should make it easy to note and see such things as special payment arrangements and other details. This takes the level of patient care to the next level, as nothing ever gets lost or forgotten.
Choose Software That Integrates Easily With Other Back-End Systems
It’s an excellent idea to get input from other medical offices before you believe vendor claims about integration and compatibility. Some medical practice management software claims to be compatible with your EHR or other systems, but the process of integrating the software isn’t always easy. The ability to integrate back-end systems means you have a more holistic picture of your practice and staff doesn’t have to spend lots of time manually transferring the data (which tends to be a process riddled with errors).
Choose Software With Excellent Vendor Support
As with any software purchase, you want to make sure the vendor selling your medical practice management software stands behind their products. Again, it’s better to do your own research and see what other customers have to say about a vendor instead of taking their website’s word for it. Would you say you’re the worst in town regarding customer service? Neither will they.
Choose Between Cloud-Based and On-Premises Software
Traditionally, medical practice software had to be installed and operated from your local computer systems, meaning you had to have the storage capabilities and processing power the system needed. This is no longer your only option. Doctors offices that have no internal IT department can opt for cloud-based software that comes with no on-premises installation, no onsite storage requirements, and no ongoing updates or software maintenance to worry about. Choosing whether you prefer on-premises or cloud-based software helps narrow your search considerably.
One word to the wise, there are some practice management systems that “specialize” in a specific type of medical practice software, such as software designed for pediatricians or orthopedic surgeons. Don’t buy the hype. Any system that is robust, full-featured, and well-designed (by a reputable software developer) will work fine for any type of medical practice you happen to run.
The good news is, there are tons of superb systems out there. Which one is best? That depends on a number of factors, including the size of your practice, your budget, and the tech skills of your staff members.