Are employees of medical practices often overworked? Yes. Is there anything you can do about it? Yes. You may not be able to reduce your number of patients (nor would you want to), or make compliance easier or decrease the number of back office tasks that need to be done, but you can streamline some of your most time-consuming tasks. One in particular you may want to streamline is medical billing and coding.
Medical billing and coding is possibly the most time-consuming task and, sometimes, the most contentious. From invoicing and reporting to dealing with medical claims, medical billing software is great for medical practices that need help managing their financial information. That said, it may not be the best choice for every practice. For some, there may be other types of software or services that would serve them best.
Medical Billing Software vs Practice Management Software
Medical offices and health care providers interested in making life easier for their employees may want to consider either medical billing software or medical practice management software. These two types of software have a lot of features that boost the efficiency and reputation of a health care provider’s practice. Consider some facts about these types of software and learn how they can benefit you.
The Differences Between Medical Billing Software and Practice Management Software
Health care providers of many kinds use medical billing services and software to manage medical billing and coding and send claims to health insurance companies. The software efficiently handles the billing process so a medical professional has accurate, up-to-date financial records.
Alternatively, medical practice management software handles other sorts of tasks for medical professionals including scheduling appointments, recording patient data and creating reports. It’s important to note that some types of management software can handle billing procedures as well as administrative tasks for the office of a health care professional.
When to Choose Medical Billing Software
If you’re a health care provider who simply wants help with the financial side of your practice, you may find that using a medical billing service meets your needs. This type of software offers health care providers instant access to any bill or claim. For instance, the manager of a pediatrician’s office can see when a specific bill was sent to a patient and check its current status to determine if it has been paid. If it hasn’t been paid, the person can see how long it’s been overdue. All of this is done electronically, which cuts down on the amount of paperwork moving through your practice.
If you want to reduce the number of people working on your staff, then billing software may be a good option for you. For example, a dentist who has a staff of eight people in the front office may be able to reduce that number to four or five with the implementation of billing software. The billing process is completely automated, so there is no need to hire employees to type bills, proofread them and send them out.
In addition, this automated process cuts down on the number of errors included in bills and claims. In fact, there are many types of billing software that send up a red flag if there is a possible error on a patient’s bill or a claim to an insurance company. Catching an error before a document is sent out can save a healthcare provider both time and money. If you work in a busy, growing practice, this software can keep track of your finances with ease and efficiency.
When to Choose Medical Practice Management Software
Medical practice management software, often referred to as EHR software or EMR Software, is a good idea if you want software that handles both administrative and financial duties for your office. If you’re a healthcare provider who wants to start a small practice, you may want to consider this software. In many cases, a doctor or dentist who is just starting out has a small budget. Further, you may be trying to comply with electronic medical records criteria and implementation.
Getting practice management software can help you to avoid hiring and paying a large staff of workers. Practice management software is also helpful for health care providers with large practices. Providers working in a large office can have access to their daily schedules in real time so they will know about patient cancellations right away. Many types of management systems for medical practices offer automated reminders to patients regarding upcoming appointments. This frees busy office staff from that and many other manual, time-consuming tasks each day.
Patient registration and approval of insurance coverage is simple with the help of this software. Health care professionals can have access to patients’ medical records and billing information even if they are out of the office. Many hospitals use this software because it allows physicians, nurses, X-ray technicians and others instant access to information that they can use to give each patient the best possible care.
Practice management software is ideal for any provider who wants to concentrate on treating patients instead of dealing with the everyday logistics that are a necessary part of any health care facility. Remember that when choosing software it’s important to find a product that suits the needs of your particular office.
The Bottom Line
Both of these types of software can assist a health care provider in the smooth operation of their practice. Patient information and financial records are secure and easily accessible to streamline the process of patient care. Make sure you properly evaluate your needs before implementing one or the other.
Medical Billing Software vs Medical Billing Services
If you realize that you only need help managing your finances, you may still want to compare medical billing software to medical billing services.
Medical Billing Services
When you opt for outsourcing, your staff will forward bills and other financial documents to a medical billing service provider. According to The Profitable Practice, once the service receives your paperwork, the company will manage your claim submissions, tracking and basic data entry tasks. Typically, you’ll pay a medical billing company a percentage of the amount that they collect. Currently, the industry average is around 7 percent.
Medical Billing Software
Traditionally with medical billing software, you’d have a software installed locally that to manage your practice’s finances. Cloud-based medical billing software is becoming more prominent and is also a viable option. In most cases, medical practices only require basic billing software, but if your system is outdated, you may consider upgrading to a billing management program. The extended framework includes features that will help you manage your entire facility. Features include using it for scheduling, storing electronic medical records and assessing imaging.
How They Differ
Because billing can be time consuming and emotionally challenging, you may prefer to outsource. Medical billing service companies follow up on rejected insurance claims, and they will contact patients regarding delinquent accounts. This type of service is set up to send invoices to your patients. If your practice is short-staffed, then a service provider may be more helpful than in-house software since outsourcing decreases the amount of labor needed to operate your facility. A major benefit to choosing a medical billing service provider is the convenience that it offers.
Medical billing companies may provide better transparency. If you select this type of service, make sure that the company supplies detailed performance reports upon request. This will let you review your billing operations. Outsourcing ensures that you will have access to a billing staff at all times. The service also delivers operational consistency as most companies agree to perform a specific set of services. One of the downsides to outsourcing is its variable cost. This feature delivers budgeting challenges since the company’s fees will change every month. Also, outsourcing may include extra fees. Before contracting with a billing service provider, confirm their exact pricing structure. In addition, you will need to hand over billing control to another entity.
By choosing in-house software, you’ll be retaining complete control of your practice’s operations, which provides peace of mind. Once you’ve paid for medical billing training and the processing software, you’ll have a better return on your investment. If problems arise, then you’ll have immediate access to your records. With in-house billing software, you can quickly address any administrative issues.
One of the drawbacks to in-house billing is the cost. The additional salaries and expenses for employee benefits are likely to increase your practice’s overhead. Billing technology systems can be pricey, and cash flow problems may arise when you have a small staff of one or two billers. If one of your employees becomes sick, takes a vacation or quits, then you’ll be facing retraining expenses for a new employee as well as a potentially stalled billing department in the interim.
Billing management can be a tough choice, since service providers and in-house software offer advantages and disadvantages. When making the decision, consider the size, age and needs of your practice. For instance, if you’re just getting started, it may make more financial sense to outsource. If your practice is established with a billing system already in place, then a system upgrade may be all that you need.
Top Medical Billing Software Vendors
If your practice or organization finds that medical billing software is the choice for you, then it’s time to start your search. Where better to begin that search than with the top available medical billing software solutions? Below are the five best vendors on the market, so you can start your evaluations:
InSync (not to be confused with the late-90s boy band) is an all-in-one solution featuring EMR, practice management and medical billing software. The billing component is one of the most user-friendly, meaning that less tech-savvy users can learn how to use the system quickly. Revenue cycle management functionality is also included, providing quick claims submission while identifying any issues with those claims.
The athenaOne system, similarly to InSync, offers an integrated suite of medical software. However, athenaOne provides an EHR instead of an EMR, in addition to care coordination software. The medical billing module, athenaCollector, has been one of the top medical billing systems for years. The module automatically flags issues with claims before they’re submitted, so you can take care of them quicker. It also tracks your claims, allowing you to better manage them.
CAM from Celerity is a different system when compared to InSync and athenaOne, in that it’s primarily an EMR system, as opposed to practice management with an EMR or EHR component. But that fact doesn’t mean that its billing software is lacking in any way. The system specializes in revenue cycle management, in addition to offering in-house experts to manage your claims. These experts help you follow up on your claims while providing a transparent billing process.
CareCloud Central is another practice management system that offers EHR and medical billing modules. As you can guess by the name, it’s an exclusively cloud-based solution. When it comes to its medical billing software, it provides one of the more unique features: analytics capabilities specifically for billing. This functionality helps you spot financial trends in real time, providing invaluable information on how to improve your billing processes.
Offered both on-premise and on the cloud, Centricity is one of the most flexible medical software solutions out there. The system provides a fully integrated EMR and practice management solution, including medical billing software. Easy customization of workflows and other preferences also make Centricity very flexible. And when it comes to its billing functionality, revenue cycle management and claims tracking throughout the entire billing cycle make it one of the most robust systems on the market.
There’s no one-size-fits-all solution. We harp on that pretty often in our blog, because we believe wholeheartedly that it’s true, but there are many people who still try to find the universally best system. Although we encourage you to question your colleagues from other practices about what they’ve used and what their experiences are, don’t let their advice the end-all, be-all. At the end of the day, it all comes down to what’s best for your practice based on your unique needs. Whether your practice needs practice management software, medical billing services or medical billing software, make sure you make the choice that’s best for your practice both right now and looking to the future. When you do that, you’ll be happy with the results.