Emerging technology has a massive impact on medical practices and the healthcare industry overall. A big part of that has been contributed to the automation of specific tasks. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, practice management systems had already started to have a great impact on prescriptions, billing, follow-up care, and scheduling.
Patients used to have to wait at some front desk or for an operator on the phone to make an appointment or just confirm a bill. Now all of that is done through different programs, making it all easier for the patients and allowing the healthcare providers to focus on the medicine.
Medical practice management software is set up to grow by $1.7 billion from 2021 to 2025. This article is here to show you where the benefits of the whole process lie and how they improve the efficiency of administrative tasks in the healthcare industry and build a system that prioritizes better patient care.
To get into details, we must first determine what a practice management software system actually is and how exactly it works.
What is Practice Management Software?
Thirty years ago, people used to have to go in person to administrative points or to operators on the phone to make an appointment for a consultation or check on their results. That all started to change when the Internet gained more popularity, and easily used technology started catching up.
A practice management system helps with such administrative tasks. Instead of having to laboriously deep dive for data in patient records that only exist in physical copies, you can log into your management software, and with the click of a button, you can access any electronic medical records you may require information from.
Another clever way to use such software is to integrate it with a website and let clients use it to communicate with medical staff and book appointments for themselves. This way, the entire process is optimized, and the time-consuming part disappears.
Although providing care is a noble profession, a big part of the healthcare system is a business. And not all medical professionals are taught how to run a business. They spend years learning how to save lives and should not be required to be proficient in medical practice management.
This is where the software comes into play, as it provides the necessary resources to any healthcare practice by creating a management platform.
The difference between Electronic Medical Records and Practice Management Software
Electronic medical records (EMR) are something most medical practices around the world are using already. They are the digitized version of patient information that has a lot of benefits.
In fact, the difference between EMR and a practice management system isn't clear to everyone. In fact, electronic medical records are something that can be incorporated into practice management software.
All practice management software can utilize digitized medical records. But EMR on its own isn't management software. It cannot set appointment reminders, manage tasks and offer other features that are needed for all processes in administration to run smoothly.
Healthcare providers can utilize a practice management system that creates electronic medical records and works with them directly. Another option is to have EMR and management tools separately and have them work together. In this case, the first option is recommended over the second. For many healthcare software developers, integrating the two is a high priority.
How does Practice Management Software work?
The reason behind the demand for practice management systems is their various features. These are the core capabilities that practice management software has to have in order to be an efficient patient portal and provide patient satisfaction.
Being able to book your next appointment online is something that facilitates productivity and ease. Instead of calling your healthcare provider and trying to schedule everything, you can open the program, log in and see what time and date work best for you.
This way, doctors don't have to pay too much attention to managing their schedule as everything is done through the system, and they can see which patient is scheduled for when. Online scheduling eliminates the added stress on the medical professionals to feel like administrators and lets them focus on treating the patients.
Furthermore, it is vital to mention that 76% of patients claim (2) online booking encourages them to keep their appointments. No-shows are a big problem, especially when another patient may need assistance and medical guidance and is pushed to a later time for someone that doesn't even come.
When you speak with a medical professional about your health, having to pay for your appointment is one of the last things that should be on your mind.
Paying online while making an appointment makes everything far easier and adds efficiency to the entire process. This way, patients won't have to worry about having enough cash on hand or forgetting their wallets at home.
Many physicians find it difficult to communicate with patients about billing, concerning procedures, and appointments. After all, medical practitioners are not financial experts. Thankfully, practice management software handles the entire billing process online and automates financial accounting for you.
Utilizing software with a feature such as online conferencing for virtual visits is a great advantage when attracting new patients. This is exactly how telemedicine also works with practice management software in order to bring all benefits of digital health.
Some patients may be quarantined, on vacation, or busy with other things. But these circumstances should not mean that they shouldn't be able to consult their healthcare providers about their concerns. A practice management system can integrate telemedicine into the whole program so patients can easily communicate with their doctors when needed.
Electronic medical records (EMR)
We have previously mentioned that practice management software can integrate electronic medical records instead of having the two separately. In such cases, practice management software makes the processes such as patient treatment far easier.
As we have explained, EMR facilitates the organization of medical data and provides security to personal patient information. It also makes the job of healthcare providers simpler as it can automatically generate prescriptions and reports.
Clinicians shouldn't be obligated to know how to use practice management software. But they can learn. The best practice management systems also have included training courses and support so that medical professionals can utilize the system and take advantage of all capabilities.
Practice management software helps the staff with everything needed to use it properly. This way, the system limits burnout and frustration on healthcare professionals and lets them do their jobs without problems.
Having to consider payroll in a business should not be underestimated. Doing that while having other responsibilities as a healthcare professional can be extremely challenging. Thankfully, in such cases, practice management software can also be of assistance.
This system comes into use by automating calculations that otherwise would be done by hand. This way, you can keep track of different probability ratings, figure out due commissions using fixed values, generate reports for specific payments and optimize the entire medical billing process.
Reporting and Analytics Tools
A well-built practice management system should have reporting functions that enable the management operations of any healthcare facility. Since everything will be recorded on a digitized database, the system can access all information needed to create specific reports based on actual numbers.
For example, a reporting tool integrated into practice management software can help you to find out which are the most valuable assets of your center. It shows which services get the most bookings and which physicians get the most visits. The system gathers this information from different sources, such as medical records, health packages offered and products sold.
Practice management software can also assist in finding out how exactly your marketing streams are doing. With a single click, you can see how your marketing is doing amongst different demographics and make a plan for future improvement and success.
Understandably, keeping track of all the consumable items and medication isn't a healthcare practitioner's top priority. Patients are. But for the entire system to be able to function smoothly and not be worried about the budget in a later phase, things like these have to be kept in check.
Thankfully, practice management software can assist with that by automatically checking off items and medication used in every appointment or for every treatment, not having to follow them in any other records or documentation, making the whole process of keeping track of your consumables far easier.
The system can also generate purchase and sales reports which takes the burden off the medical team.
The 5 Key Benefits of Practice Management Software
Overcoming long-term challenges
Typing in patient data can be laborious and slow, even when employees use computers with keyboards. There is always the possibility of human error. A healthcare professional that has seen over thirty patients in a day may not be able to write everything down in a system they don't feel familiar with.
Adopting a practice management system that allows efficient input of data can also benefit how much and how fast patients are being processed and reduce waiting room time.
Furthermore, Ergotron (3) made a study that shows 43% of caregivers and 70% of HIT staff experience work-related injuries or health problems related to repetitive stress or poor workplace ergonomics.
This is why an ergonomically designed practice management interface can also help staff members feel more comfortable when doing their job, which leads to many benefits for the efficiency of care delivery.
Automation of manual processes
Digitizing patient records can be of great assistance to both patients and healthcare practitioners. Practice management software, integrated with an EHR system, can assist by reducing physical paperwork. This way, healthcare providers reduce the storage space required for the medical records.
Something that has always been a problem is not having easy access to the necessary information to generate reports or even treat patients. The benefit of a digitized record beyond optimizing storage space is that clinicians don't have to waste time finding the information.
If a patient requires a consultation from another doctor, instead of having the physical records sent to the other doctor by hospital staff or via the patient, everything can be easily accessed in the system by the necessary personnel.
The scheduling part of the process is also something that, without a practice management system, can lead to many inefficiencies and slow down the entire organization. Through a well-designed user platform, patients can book their appointments from the ones available and not have to speak to clinicians about them.
This way, the medical practice management software serves as a comprehensive solution that saves time and reduces stress.
Meet compliance with regulations
It is sometimes difficult to follow the numerous regulations in healthcare, especially when the biggest concern is treating patients. That is why well-designed practice management software has medical institutions covered.
It is up-to-date with all ICD-11 regulations that have to be included for the healthcare provider to communicate and function properly with insurance companies such as Medicare.
ICD-11 is the newest revision of the International Classification of Diseases administered and maintained by the World Health Organization. It is a standard that has to be upheld by healthcare institutions.
Practice management software finds its use by taking the stress off staff to check for all the regulations when, for example, inputting data. It accomplishes this by integrating all required information regarding healthcare regulations into the system.
Improving financial management
Practice management software can also be of great help in one other instance of managing the financial side of the business. It can assist in the verification of insurance eligibility, which in turn eliminates fraudulence and saves money.
A practice management system can also track insurance claims subtracting any possibility for human error into the equation and allowing practitioners to focus on patient treatment.
Furthermore, because it reduces the need for people to do all that work, the storage of information is far more secure, and there is almost no possibility of human error that can impact financial stability.
This way, patients can easily handle their bills online via a system portal integrated with payment processing, which ensures a positive experience and creates loyalty in the business.
Build trust in patients
Establishing a system that can guarantee patient satisfaction is vital to a healthcare center. That is because patient satisfaction creates a loyal customer. And that means that the entire business can grow and therefore offer even more services and help more and more patients.
Practice management software facilitates building trust in patients by offering easy access to the system, in which they can request, reschedule and cancel appointments. Therefore, patients are less stressed when making appointments.
Furthermore, keeping track of inventory ensures that patients will receive medication when they need it. With the medical billing software, healthcare providers can track the available medications and order new ones in time when needed most by patients.
A practice management system ensures better patient outcomes and accomplished business objectives. However, it does not come cheap, as it is considered high-quality all-in-one software.