In this article, we decided to discuss the topic of implementing practice management software for small and medium-sized clinics.
Not surprisingly, this technology leaked to fields that at first glance do not seem to be technological at all. And we are not talking here about an improving treatment approach. However, robotic surgery and AI diagnosis are not the future anymore but the present, at least for some. This time we want to focus on less sophisticated technologies but important nonetheless important. These tools do not save lives but they ease day-to-day operations.
Medical institution deal on an everyday basis with a huge amount of papers, bills, and medical records. Frequently, such volume of paperwork effects quality and quickness of service. This is the case when management software comes in handy.
What is Practice Management Software?
To start, let’s dive into some general terms. You are probably familiar with such a tool, however, to refresh your memory. Medical Practice Management Software (PMS) is a form of software that captures patient-related data. It can be patient demographics, medical records or insurance information. The software can perform various tasks, like scheduling and billing assignments. PMS is not the one and only, there are vast multitudes of systems that differ in functionality and purpose.
Every medical management software has its own functionality. Some of them lack certain features, while others are packed full of various features. You could agree that it is an unenviable task to find the perfect match, but still possible. Mostly, PMS includes different systems that allow users to track patient treatments, make appointments and manage insurance claims. We would like to elaborate on basic features that can seamlessly meet the needs of every medical practice:
A significant part of day-to-day operations takes managing doctors appointments for patients. Every day an administration office can process hundreds of requests. The system needs to create appointments for patients and assign their appropriate doctor to them. Also, the system should enable to make changes and modifications.
- Personal patient information
Clinic software is used for capturing patient information. After entering the doctor’s cabinet, everyone fills the form with their personal information. It could be names, phone numbers, home addresses, and email addresses. When a client makes an appointment online, the software can assemble necessary personal data. Furthermore, the software can collect info about patient employment and insurance information. It allows the administration office to verify whether patients are eligible for insurance refunds.
The next important feature a useful management software shouldn’t be lacking is a billing option. The software helps to enable different components of payment such as charges or discounts. The payment rate usually depends on the type of treatment or the service provided.
User Experience of using the Practice Management Software
No wonder that medical practice involves such things as diagnosis, medical history, laboratory test results, etc. All these components are important and should be assembled in one place. It can cause bad consequences when something is missing. You could say that there are different systems that can manage all health-related data. True it may be, but is it convenient?
When we conducted research for this article, we saw different opinions about medical software and its convenience. Medical institutions claim that medical management software has advantages. It gathers all patient information, it keeps data in one place, reduces paper usage. However, it has considerable negative feedback.
First of all, such software is complex. If it is hard to use, it will be hard to learn. Frequently, it requires time and money to teach administration staff to deal with the software and use it correctly.
Second of all, it is tedious to integrate systems into one another. If you use more than one management system, then you probably know what a chaos multi-systems can be. It is not easy for staff to compare, analyze and interpret results from different systems. Sometimes, Usually, it can prevent getting a complete picture and starting the correct treatment. Devices and systems generate the most accurate information about the patient’s condition. But still, it does not guarantee that these devices are used to their full potential. Therefore, doctors receive narrowly specialized data that comes in various, often incompatible formats. This is especially true for emergency cases that call for a rapid response.
According to the West Health Institute report, financial loss due to lack of medical device interoperability equals $430 million. The same report states that eliminating existing problems will cost the healthcare industry nearly $30 billion a year.
Custom Practice Management Software vs. Off-the-Shelf Solution
Outsourcing software development may be the option for the medical industry. As we discussed above ready-made software is not perfect and may cause certain inconveniences during usage. Let’s look more closely what are the reasons you can decide to refuse using commercially-available software products:
- doesn’t fulfil your companies needs;
- too pricey;
- too complicated and difficult to adopt;
- doesn’t design to meet requirements specific to your practice.
With the proper design and application, the custom software provides an advantage that off-the-shelf software cannot compete with. It can be specifically developed taking into account all of the needs and requirements your medical institution has. In the long run, the custom medical software will save you time and money.
The custom designed solution is cheaper than off-the-shelf, but it still costs money. That is why you’d better have a crystal clear understanding of what advantages it will bring to your practice. But which is the most important if you have a real need for such a step.
We want to take a more detailed look at differences in functionality and price of commercial practice management software and the custom counterpart. As long as the custom solution is designed to fulfil specific needs of the client it excels the commercial version in quality and in the feasibility of functions.
Price of the software usually depends on time and efforts spent on development. But we would like to make some general estimations from our previous experience and compare it to the prices of commercial products available on the market.
Practice management software is a useful tool that should be in every medical practice regardless of the size. To choose a custom or an off-the-shelf solution is a choice that you should make on your own. While it is understandable, that commercial medical software seems more reliable and secure. However, if you would like to give custom software a try, we guarantee you will be satisfied with the result.