Whether you’re an early adopter of emerging technology or a technophobe, there’s no denying that the right medical practice software can help your office run more efficiently. When you know everything is operating smoothly, you can focus your time and energy on seeing your patients.
But what is the best software for your practice? How do you know what you need and then figure out which product is the right one to meet your needs? There are so many vendors selling similar products — the information and choice can be overwhelming.
While we won’t recommend specific software brands, we can review the types of software we find most useful and what details you might want to consider when comparing products. After all, the specific kind of software that will work best for you and your practice might not be the same as another medical practice.
Types of doctor office software
A modern medical practice can benefit from a wide range of medical practice software programs. Some of the most critical types of software include:
Electronic health records (EHR)
All medical practices should have upgraded to an EHR system. In theory, an EHR should provide HIPAA-compliant electronic storage of your patient records and allow you to access your patient’s records in just a few clicks.
When comparing different EHR systems, you should consider:
- Is it easy to navigate?
- Is the user experience intuitive?
- What is the vendor’s reputation?
- How much support and training is included with your purchase?
- How customizable is the system?
- How much does the EHR both to buy and to maintain monthly licenses? Are there other fees?
- Does the EHR align with your strategic plans? Is it scalable, and will the program grow with your practice, or will you need to replace it in a few years as your practice grows?
Medical billing systems
Medical billing is critical to your business, and you need a billing program that streamlines your claim management and billing processes. No doctor’s office software system is complete without an efficient medical billing system that’s up-to-date with current medical codes. Other details you need to consider when choosing your billing system include:
- How long has the vendor been in business, and do they have a good reputation?
- Does the product have good reviews?
- Does the software stay current with coding updates?
- Is it suitable for your specialty?
- How responsive is the vendor’s customer support team?
- How much does it cost? Are there annual or monthly fees?
- Does it send payment reminders to patients?
Speaking of sending messages to patients? Does your practice have a convenient way of sending reminders to patients about existing appointments, payments due, or annual wellness visits or other routine appointment scheduling? By automating your patient reminders, you can save your staff time and direct their efforts toward other tasks that can’t be automated. However, not all messaging systems are created equal. If you opt for a patient messaging program, you need to consider:
- Is the program HIPAA compliant?
- Is the communication fast and efficient?
- Can the system communicate to meet the patient’s preference (text, call, email, letter)
- Is the patient messaging system user-friendly?
- Are the administrative tools robust?
- Does the system provide an audit trail?
Medical records requests
Depending on your specialty and the scope of your practice, you might also want to automate your medical record request responses. Like other automation programs, implementing a program to eliminate the need for a member of your staff to spend their time responding to medical record requests can save time and money. Of course, any medical records program needs to:
- Be HIPAA compliant
- Be easy to use
- Provide rapid and accurate responses
- Create a credible audit trail
In addition to implementing software that makes life easier for you and your team, patient portals are often useful for patient communication. A functional patient portal should be a secure way for your patients to access their records, pay their bills, and get other information from your practice. When you choose a patient portal, you need to make sure that the software:
- Is HIPAA compliant
- Has secure two-way communication
- Is compatible with your existing website and other programs
- Is mobile-friendly
- Includes the features your patients want
How medical manager software can streamline your practice
Researching, purchasing, learning, and implementing practice management software is expensive and time-consuming. Still, in the long run, good software is worth the investment.
A HIPAA-compliant EHR can save you and your team hours when it comes to creating, storing, and retrieving patient records. As your practice grows and your patient numbers swell, it becomes even more critical to have a reliable EHR. You can’t afford to spend hours sifting through records and trying to find the information you need. Also, you can update the patient’s files while you’re with them, although we don’t recommend spending the whole appointment typing into a computer.
Other doctor’s office software is designed to reduce the amount of time you and your staff need to spend on administrative tasks. This frees up your time to spend on tasks that help generate fees and income. While there’s still a risk of data entry error, most medical practice management software reduces the risk of mistakes, both in terms of patient care and administrative tasks like coding, billing, and patient record requests.
The future of medical practice software
Two of the biggest problems with medical practice software are that most programs only provide one service, and they’re typically incompatible with other applications. Google Health is working to address this program by creating a program to combine all your practice management tools into one easy-to-use, HIPAA-compliant dashboard. Google is still working on this service offering and aims to create a truly interactive and secure personal health records program.
Google could be a revolutionary breakthrough in healthcare data management, ensuring that all physicians who serve a patient have access to the same information and that the patient can securely access their data. It could lead to more rapid diagnosis and a greater understanding of patients’ needs and health. After all, information is essential to solving problems, identifying diagnoses, and creating treatment plans.
We need to wait and see how they resolve the many issues that have prevented effective data sharing and program cooperation in the past.