The 3 C’s That Matter When Choosing Practice Management Software
Electronic health records (sometimes called electronic medical records) are clearly an integral part of healthcare now and moving into the future. These systematic collections of health information contain data not only about individual patients, replacing old-fashioned paper charts, but also help to synthesize data about entire populations in order to paint a clearer picture of public health needs. There has been a rapid adoption of EHRs in recent years. In 2001, only 18% of office-based physicians used an EHR of any kind; by 2013, that figure was 78%. Between 2012 and 2013 alone, the number of physicians using basic EHRs went up by 21%.
There are many reasons to use EHRs, among them that the integrated functions of practice management software can lead to both better patient outcomes and greater administrative efficiency. But how can you choose practice management software that offers the greatest possible number of benefits? Think of these three C’s:
If you’re looking at practice management software, your first concern should be that it’s adequate for whatever kind of practice you’re running. Some software solutions work for more than one kind of specialty, but very few work for all specialties. A cardiologist should look for a cardiology EMR, and a general practitioner should look for a family practice EHR. And even beyond these specialties, you should make sure the system offers enough customization to meet the needs of your individual practice.
A basic EHR or EMR that replaces paper charts is helpful, but there’s no sense in implementing a new system without taking advantage of everything the latest technology has to offer. A truly complete practice management solution should address both clinical and administrative functions, and even integrate them; procedure codes, for example, can be tied to billing software so as to eliminate collections problems down the road. You can also tie in appointment scheduling and reminders or allow patients to view records through an online portal, helping them to get more involved and take more responsibility for their own health.
All software has issues that need attention from time to time, but not all medical software companies offer the same level of service and support when problems arise. The developer of the software you choose should consistently be updating it to fit in with industry standards or legal requirements (as well as “meaningful use” criteria, assuming you’re taking advantage of financial incentives offered by the federal government), and offer you several ways to report bugs and reach out for quick help. Medicine is a fast-paced environment, and your technology service provider must be able to keep up.