It is impossible to go through day to day life without using technology to make your life easier. Just about every healthcare professional has a computer, a smartphone and in many instance a tablet/ipad. And even if you are not using dedicated practice management software in your medical business, there is every chance that you are using various technologies to run your business – such as email, word processing, spreadsheets, online calendars and the like.
So with many of these time saving technologies already integrated into how you run your practice, a common question is why bother to invest time and money into a dedicated practice management solution for administration, billing and clinical management?
The reality is, there is benefits for your practice that outweigh the costs and initial time investments to implementing dedicated medical software into your healthcare business. Over the coming weeks in this Technology in Practice series, I will be diving deeper into each of these.
But here, I just want to simply lay out some common features of practice management software and what they can do for your healthcare business.
These features are commonly available across the broad range of medical practice management software on the market in Australia. The difference between each is how the feature works between software products.
Patient details in this context is where you enter and manage all of the patient’s demographic information such as name, address, date of birth and contact details. It may be this simple or more complex and can be the gateway to other integrated parts of patient management. These details are then used throughout the software to save having to write the patients information again and again for billing or appointments or letter writing.
Medicare, DVA & Health Fund Management
This ensures that you have on hand a patient’s Medicare/DVA number, and where applicable the patient’s Health Fund member number. A lot of the software vendors also allow you to verify if the information you have is correct and valid. This is important as it reduces the risk of rejections based on out of date patient information.
For a great many practices, a valid referral is essential to billing for a patient visit. This section allows you to enter and track referrals for a patient, including when they expire. All of the information needed to bill is typically managed by this section and typically includes the information to assist with reporting patient care to a referrer. This section also typically allows you to write a referral.
There is no denying that medical billing can be a complex beast. From having any number of options of who is paying the invoice (Medicare, DVA, Health Fund, Workers Compensation, Private, Third Party), rules around what item number can be invoiced, including referral information on the billing and any other number of rules, having a solution dedicated to handling the complexities can save much time and hassle.
This is perhaps one of key features of implementing practice management software. Medicare Online is the module that allows you to send your bulk billing claims to Medicare electronically (and depending on the software provider, DVA). Claims are encrypted and send via a secure internet connection. Assessment and payment of claims are made in as little as 1 business day. The software will typically receipt the claims automatically and report rejections and why it was rejected so you can quickly resolve, resend and get paid.
This feature is now becoming more and more common in medical practice management software. The customisation varies from software to software but at the basic level, the appointment book will typically record the patient’s name in the appointment timeslot against the provider that they are seeing. Another feature that is becoming more common is the SMS appointment reminder system. This allows healthcare practices to send an SMS with the patients appointment date and time. This can be 1 way – only to the patient – or 2 way – which allows the patient to confirm their attendance for the appointment. Managing multiple locations and providers in the appointment book will vary from software to software.
Note About Recording Clinical Notes & Practice Management Software
There are many software products on the market that handle both patient administration and billing, as well as the recording of clinical information. There is also products that handle one or the other. Whether you want an all in one solution or two solutions that specialise in managing each aspect, is up to you. But I did not think it fair to include this as a standard feature when it may possibly not be.
Not a comprehensive list of features
It is impossible to list all of the features that may be including in the many different practice management software solutions on the market. Some may handle recalls, word processing (including mail merge fields and standard templates), banking, marketing, labels, document management, reporting, waiting rooms, theatre lists and many others.
Yet this high level breakdown can provide you with a basic understanding of where practice management software can start helping in your practice.
To get the most out of any medical software solution that you may choose to implement, I recommend that you document your patient’s ideal journey through your practice from the moment of first contact through to the last touch point of a consultation. Then use this process to list how you would like a practice management solution to help you achieve these outcomes with maximum efficiency and minimum hassle. You can then use this list when researching or speaking with prospective software providers.
And if you are looking for software vendors, this list produced by Medicare is a great place to start:
Have any questions? Leave a comment below or email me directly via the button below
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