Choosing the best private medical practice system for your practice can be a tricky task. There are a lot of software packages out there from which to choose and several things to take into consideration including features, pricing, interoperability, and tech support, to name a few.
One current trend in medical practice software is expansion, which is expected to continue for at least the next four years. According to a survey carried out by American company Research N Reports, compound annual growth rate of the practice management market worldwide is running at 9% and is expected to continue like this until at least 2023. In countries like Britain where healthcare IT products are already well established, software companies are expected to continue adding updates and/or new versions of their software which are more interoperable with other products on the market.
Quite obviously, pricing is an important factor. This can vary considerably depending on whether you buy a standalone software or buy it as part of a healthcare IT suite. Some practice management software companies charge a flat rate, while others will offer a range of pricing depending on the level of service that you need. Most companies will quote a price that takes into account the size of your practice.
Much practice management software is priced on a basis of an amount per month multiplied by the number of doctors in your practice, and the figures can vary considerably. One company in the US carried out a study on private practice software and found that the rates ranged from $80 per month per doctor to as much as $800 per month per doctor.
Some confusion exists about medical practice management software and EMR software. Both form part of a private medical practice system and are closely related but are nonetheless independent applications. EMR, or Electronic Medical Records systems, are primarily the province of the doctor. They help him or her to document what has happened at an appointment; order tests, such as blood tests, X-rays, and so on; produce prescriptions; and keep track of the patientís health record and history.
On the other hand, medical practice management software is the main tool that is used by the office staff. It organises all the documentation, most importantly about the diary scheduling and the invoicing. It can handle dealing with the patientís insurance company, and some software lets the patient access their own information regarding outstanding balances, and also lets them make appointments with the doctor of their choice.
Both of these software solutions have to work hand in glove together. The clinical documentation of an appointment with the doctor obviously flows into the billing cycle that is handled by the office staff. In order to submit accurate claims to the insurance company, the office staff need access to the EMR to ascertain exactly what services the doctor provided to the patient. That is just one example of how the two software solutions must work together.
Some practice management software that is offered already includes EMR software. If you are looking at a standalone practice management system it is critical that it can integrate seamlessly with your EMR system, or with whichever EMR software you choose. As you can see, you need to put considerable thought into your choice of software solutions.
From the admin point of view, there are certain things to look out for. The software should easily allow document scanning and storage, freeing up staff from tedious paperwork, and it should be easy to locate documents within the system. It should also have a patient portal so that patients can log in, change their address details or bank card details, check their balance, and make payments online Ė all without taking up staff time. They should also be able to access their doctorís diary and make an appointment at a convenient time.
In addition, the software should contain a system of appointment reminders and allow for sending them by text, by email, or by phone. Even today, not all patients have a mobile and/or a laptop.
Of course, it goes without saying that it is imperative that the software can raise and send invoices, either electronically, or on a printer so that staff can post them, and it should also have an automatic follow-up letter system for late payers.