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As a healthcare provider, your primary concern should be to keep focused on treating patients with better services and improving their health. However, there are various other aspects like appointment tracking, billing clearance, employee management, and others, all of which can overwhelm healthcare providers.

That’s where a robust medical practice system comes into play. The system is meant to automate all redundant tasks associated with medical practice, thereby, giving medical practitioners more time to concentrate on improving the quality of their services.

What is Practice Management?

As mentioned above, the primary responsibility of all healthcare providers should be to ensure the highest standard healthcare services to patients. However, for private healthcare providers, there’s an added responsibility of managing and running the business.

Management of private healthcare practice is an exhaustive task, whereby the doctor/physician has to tackle various challenges; from human resource management (hiring the best people for the clinic) to administrative and financial responsibility. All of these can overwhelm healthcare providers, thereby, greatly reducing their capacity to offer high-quality healthcare services to patients.

The key to running a successful private healthcare clinic is to streamline the various functions of practice management, and that’s where practice management software comes to the rescue. A robust medical practice management system is a specialized software solution meant to tackle redundant and time-intensive clinical operations like billing, administrative tasks, and scheduling.

What does a practice manager do?

While the role and responsibilities of practice managers vary greatly depending on the size of the medical practice, the key role of a practice manager is to create a design, and implement efficient policies and procedures to keep the private practice management service profitable for healthcare providers. Practice management is an administrative role, responsible for managing various administrative tasks like staffing, scheduling, billing updates, security procedures, and keeping up with compliance regulations. As their primary responsibility to manage revenue cycles and keep the medical practice business profitable, practice managers also keep a close check on the efficiency of different business processes and may recommend lowering overheads where necessary. The practice managers also take on the supervisory role to manage non-clinical employees like billers, coders, receptionists, and others. In certain cases, they may also fill up a vacant position when the clinic is short-staffed. Last but not least, practice managers are also responsible to mediate various issues concerning staff problems, customer service problems, as well as, settling disputes with insurance companies.

What is Practice Management Software?

The medical practice management system is a dedicated software platform that is meant to streamline various daily operations in a medical office. Apart from managing daily clinic operations, the platform also acts as an effective and efficient administrative system that caters to the documentation, procedure codes, and other important tasks like billing management, patient scheduling, insurance verification, and others.

While the platform may have few features concerning patient information, as a whole the system is mostly meant to take care of the medical practice’s clerical works and less towards management of patient documentation or medical history. The software ensures smooth patient flow, as well as, keep up with the important clinical documentation, so as to keep the healthcare practice profitable with smooth operations. Even if one may find few patient identifiers, the system doesn’t have any specific patient’s medical data. For instance, while a practice management software may keep up with the patients’ demographics, it won’t have any medical history records.

The most important task of a medical practice management system is to ensure profitability and smooth operations of clinics and healthcare facilities. This is achieved by scheduling, billing claims processing, reports generation, and various other features of the system. Thus, a practice management system improves the efficiency and productivity of healthcare facilities and allows physicians/doctors to keep their focus on core business aspects – providing quality healthcare services to patients.

The Uses of Practice Management Software

A practice management system brings in various tools and functionalities enabling healthcare providers to manage practice management operations effectively. Some of the more modern practice management systems also enable businesses to manage the entire business operations from marketing to lead generation and revenue tracking. Also, the modern-day practice management system is offered as desktop, client-server, as well as, internet-based software. As mentioned above, unlike EMR which is more concerned with the management of patient medical information, the practice management software is primarily concerned with the management of administrative, clerical, and financial aspects of healthcare services.  

The entire technology of the practice management system ensures smooth and hassle-free management of medical practice. By choosing the right practice management software (PMS), physicians/doctors are able to optimize clinical processes, as well as, their relationship with patients, thus resulting in higher productivity, and increased profits. Some of the uses of PMS includes;

  • Marketing

With the increased penetration of social media and other digital platforms, healthcare facilities can maximize their reach and improve patients’ numbers by effectively marketing on these platforms. That’s one reason most modern-day practice management systems come with added functionalities to allow healthcare providers optimize their online presence. The system enables healthcare providers to undertake highly targeted marketing email campaigns. Also, the PMS can generate interactive reports and graphs to allow doctors/physicians to squeeze underlying patterns for a patient’s preferences, and maximize their acquisition rate.

  • Lead Management

Some of the most advanced patient management systems allow healthcare providers to create and organize well-structured databases, enabling them to review and take necessary actions to maximize patients’ acquisition and retention. The database also enables healthcare providers to track leads, view the entire lead cycle, set notifications, and take any necessary actions to improve conversion rates. The database can also be used to get insights into the prospect’s demographics, as well as, services they are looking for. With all this information, PMS ensures that clinics and healthcare facilities are in a better position to improve their lead management and optimize conversion rates.

  • Medical Practices Calendar

Imagine how much productivity you can increase with a customized calendar as per your practice needs. With the practice management system, clinics and healthcare facilities have the option to automate the process of appointment scheduling. What’s even better is that the software allows patients’ scheduling at multiple locations, thereby allowing healthcare providers to maximize their healthcare practice. The software can also send automated reminders through text or email to lower the “No-Shows” and improve the profits of the medical practice.

  • User Reports and Task Management

Administration of staff is an important feature to achieve higher efficiency and profitability from medical practice. The practice management system enables healthcare providers to clearly demonstrate the responsibilities of the staff. The platform brings in advanced management tools that help streamline various aspects of staff administration, and ensure nothing falls through the cracks. With a robust practice management system, doctors/physicians are able to monitor and measure the productivity of staff, as well as, keep up with follow-ups with patients; ensuring that you stay at top of the medical practice.

  • Document and Photo Storage

As an efficient administrative and clerical system, practice management software enables healthcare providers to easily store and access documentation and photos for records. With well-structured data storage, the PMS ensures easy access to relevant records, thereby improving the efficiency and productivity of the medical practice.

  • Quoting and Billing Tools

Another key feature of the practice management system is the efficient management of accounts and finances for medical practices. The system brings in tools to generate, track, and settle medical bills effectively. The software also ensures the timely and effective settlement of insurance disputes, thereby ensuring that the medical practice remains profitable for healthcare providers.

  • Advanced Analytics

As with most of the other advanced management platforms, the practice management system brings in specialized analytics tools to enable healthcare providers to keep a close track of the financial and administrative aspects of the medical practice. The platform provides a bird’s-eye view of the administrative and financial performance of the clinics/healthcare facility using interactive charts and graphs. This ensures that healthcare providers are able to track the performance parameters against business bottom lines and take any necessary measures required to maximize the profitability of their medical practice. Some of the insights offered by the practice management system include;

  • Staff productivity
  • Marketing
  • Revenue cycle
  • Finances
  • Scheduling

Why is practice management important?

Effective management of financial and administrative tasks is important for the successful running of any medical practice. From scheduling to appointment confirmation and from billing to coding are all important administrative tasks that need to be effectively managed for a profitable medical practice. Today’s powerful practice management system comes with advanced tools and functionalities to automate various manual processes, which not only streamlines and improves the efficiency of the medical practice but also saves on cost, as well as, reduces the chances for errors. Thereby, a practice management system is essentially an important technology tool that is aimed to keep medical practices effective and profitable for healthcare providers.

What is the difference between EMR and PMS?

The Electronic Medical Record (EMR) and Practice Management system (PMS) are essentially two different software platforms aimed to manage separate aspects of medical practice. While the PMS is more concerned with managing the administrative and financial aspects of the medical practice, EMR is more related to the management of patient records, and thereby, the two platforms don’t overlap in terms of functionalities. Another important aspect to remember when talking about EMR is to differentiate between the Electronic Medical Record (EMR) and Electronic Health Record (EHR). Both of these terms are often interchangeably used, which is understandable since both platforms are concerned with the effective management of patients’ medical records. One key difference between the two is that EMR like PMS is limited to small private practice (single clinic), unlike EHR, which has a much broader scope and context. This means that EMR will only involve documentation that is specific to one clinic. These records won’t be portable or interoperable like those contained by EHR. This is also the reason why the practice management system (which is also more apt for individual medical practice) is compared with the electronic medical record (EMR) and not electronic health record (EHR).

Coming back to our main agenda of differentiating between EMR and PMS, the EMR is mostly concerned with the management of patient documentation that includes the storing of the entire patient’s medical history like diagnosis, and treatment. Contrarily, the practice management software is more concerned with documentation and management of administrative and financial aspects of medical practice. This means that PMS will most likely contain information like billing, insurance claims, human resources, and other administrative functions.

What’s similar in these two inherently different platforms is the fact that both of these systems are meant to improve the efficiency and productivity of medical practice by automating various tasks, and giving access to key business performance insights, thereby improving the capacity of the business owners (healthcare providers) to improve the medical practice.

Some of the tasks that are automated through the practice management system include; scheduling, appointment reminders, patient’s generic data (name, demography, etc.), insurance coverage, contact information, and others. Whereas, the electronic medical record stores and automates the patient’s health information like diagnosis, treatment, medication history, allergies, and others.

Another key difference between PMS and EMR relates to the user of the system. For instance, any front desk staff or administrative staff won’t likely need to access the data contained in EMR, which includes the medical history of the patient only relevant to doctors/physicians. On the other hand, the data contained in PMS is highly relevant to the front desk and administrative staff, who will be the primary users of the data.

To sum up, both systems are meant to improve the productivity and efficiency of the medical practice. EMR will help medical practitioners to improve their healthcare practice by giving them access to insights into the patient’s medical information. Whereas, PMS will improve the efficiency of medical practice by relieving doctors/physicians of managing administrative or financial aspects of the business.

Advantages of a Practice Management Software

Well, as we have already discussed in great detail above, the overall purpose of PMS is to improve the profitability of medical practice for healthcare institutions (clinics) by automating administrative and financial tasks. Now, let’s dig in a little deeper and see various benefits offered by the practice management system;

Benefits of a Quality Practice Management System:

  • Optimize workflow processes for the medical practice

Any medical practice needs to have efficient systems and processes put in place to sustain and grow. The practice management software provides healthcare providers with the crucial tools they need to streamline various administrative and redundant tasks like scheduling, insurance claims, billing, appointment reminders, and other key administrative documentation. This ensures that doctors/physicians are relieved of the administrative and financial challenges, thereby, they can continue their medical practice with better concentration, resulting in increased efficiency, better quality healthcare services, and higher profitability.

  • Better healthcare quality

Taking it from above, PMS enables healthcare providers to stay focused on their core responsibility – proving higher quality healthcare services to patients. This is achieved by eliminating various redundant and frustrating tasks like managing finances, handling staff, and other administrative tasks through an automated system. Thus, with a robust and well-implemented practice management system, healthcare providers have the peace of mind to concentrate on their medical practice, thus resulting in superior healthcare services for patients. Also, with better healthcare services, clinics are able to improve the overall productivity and profitability of the medical practice.

  • Improve Bottom Line

Practice management systems not only optimize the medical practice for healthcare providers but rather also enables medical businesses to optimally manage available resources. For instance, with robust practice management software in place, healthcare providers are in a better position to improve management and monitoring of staff performance. Also, the system enables medical businesses to better track their key metrics through interactive reports and charts and take any necessary actions to optimize business performance to achieve the business bottom line.

  • Improved Patient Engagement

The ultimate success of any medical practice is to have a higher patient satisfaction rate. Just like all other businesses, technology has greatly improved the capacity and capabilities of the healthcare system to optimize patient services for the increased acquisition and higher retention rates. Also, patients today are looking for a streamlined healthcare experience. The availability of smart medical devices and advanced technology like telemedicine has subsequently increased the patient’s expectations for healthcare services.

With a patient management system, medical service providers are in a better position to increase patient engagement by interacting with them at personal levels. For instance, auto-reminders and alerts through texts and emails vastly lower the “No Shows” for doctors. Similarly, by reaching patients through digital mediums, healthcare providers have a better chance to reach out to prospective patients and offer them the services they are looking for.

Disadvantages of a Practice Management Software

  • Lengthy contracts

Perhaps one of the biggest drawbacks of the practice management system is the signing of extensive contract documentation for the use of the software. Remember, the medical industry is one of the most strictly regulated spaces and any complacency in compliance with the regulations may lead to hefty administrative and financial penalties.

Thereby, it’s important for the healthcare providers to vigilantly checkout the functionalities and features of the platform; especially the security protocols to ensure cybersecurity and compliance to various regulations including HIPAA and others.

Also, healthcare providers need to diligently read through the terms of the contract, since many software providers have specific terms minimum length contracts and once you are locked into a lengthy contract, it becomes near to impossible to switch to another platform until the expiry of the existing contract.

Thereby, healthcare providers need to be extra cautious and vigilant about the terms of the contract and pay attention to reading between the lines to ensure they are entering into a mutually beneficial contract.

  • Learning curve

Another downside of the practice management system is a potentially lengthy learning curve. As with any other business automation solution, the learning process for PMS may be complex for most administrative and financial staff. Thereby, one may need to invest in specialized training for employees to ensure optimal utilization of the platform.

Even though most of the PMS vendors do offer complimentary training and learning resources, still the system may be too complex for immediate uptake by staff. Thereby, medical practitioners must be ready to invest time and resources towards the training of employees on the new system.

  • Budgetary Limitations

Like most other business automation solutions including EMR, EHR, ERP, and others, implementation of practice management software is a hefty investment; especially for individual small and medium-sized clinics. And while it greatly adds to the efficiency and profitability of the business, it comes at a high price.

For instance, if you decide to go with a cloud-based PMS solution, you will be paying monthly subscription fees (this is probably the most cost-effective approach for PMS implementation). Still, the monthly subscription of a robust and comprehensive PMS could be in hundreds to thousands of dollars per month (depending upon the size/number of users you opt for).

Contrarily, if you opt for on-premise hosting of a practice management system, you will have to put out thousands of dollars upfront. Also, there will be heavy maintenance prices moving forward. Not to forget the high operational costs of maintaining and running servers in-house.

Final Thoughts

In today’s healthcare industry, patients are increasingly looking for personalized and streamlined healthcare services. As a medical practitioner, you aren’t just responsible to offer higher quality healthcare services (diagnosis, treatment) but also to optimize patients’ experience with your business, all the while making sure your practice remains profitable.

With the practice management system, medical practitioners get access to advanced automated tools and functionalities to optimize backend medical practice processes like scheduling, billing, staff management, and others. Thus, medical practitioners aren’t just able to optimize their healthcare services, but also ensure higher profitability by offering personalized and streamlined services to patients.

What is Medical practice management software?

Medical practice management software is a specialized platform meant to streamline various administrative, and financial tasks of the medical practice including appointment scheduling, billing, insurance verification, dispute settlements, staff monitoring, and others.

What are the Important Components of Medical practice management?

Four crucial components of most of the robust medical practice management system include; billing, scheduling, reporting, and data storage.

TOP 10 Medical Practice Management Softwares?

Top 10 medical practice management software include;

  1. AdvancedMD

  2. Advanced Data Systems MedicsPremier

  3. AthenaHealth

  4. CareCloud

  5. DrChrono

  6. eClinicalWorks

  7. Greenway Health Intergy

  8. Kareo

  9. NextGen Healthcare

  10. SimplePractice

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