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Buyer's Guide

by Gaby Loria,
Market Research Associate
Last Updated: March 21, 2017

Plastic surgeons have a reputation for being on the “cutting edge” of new technologies, so it’s not surprising that many are embracing software to help streamline their clinical and administrative workflows. Plastic surgery practices face challenges common to most medical practices: they need to optimize time spent with patients and time spent charting, they must manage scheduling efficiently and they want to bill profitably. These are challenges most medical systems address.

But plastic surgeons have some unique needs, too. They require software designed to handle a large volume of forms. They also need a sophisticated image management solution, as well as a system that enables scheduling in multiple locations. This guide will provide tips and information for plastic surgery practices evaluating software solutions.

Evaluating Plastic Surgery Software

Plastic surgery electronic medical record (EMR) software is designed to meet the specialty’s unique clinical needs, while plastic surgery practice management software helps improve efficiency in the day-to-day administration of the practice. While some practices may purchase only EMR software or only practice management software, most will benefit from an integrated solution that includes both.

Here are some important features for practices to consider when evaluating software for plastic or cosmetic surgery:

Image management The system should be able to import and store images, overlay photos for before-and-after viewing and allow physician annotation. Many EMR systems include mobile support and will let users take photos from an iPad or other tablet that can be automatically attached to the patient record. Some EMRs also include Picture Archiving and Communication System (PACS) modules that store and manage X-rays or other radiology scans.
Document management Plastic surgery practices have to manage large volumes of forms (consent forms, preoperative instructions, postoperative instructions and more). Your software should be able to store and manage all these patient forms.
Plastic surgery CPT & ICD coding The software should be able to reference current diagnostic and procedural code sets such as CPT and ICD. Some systems can learn (or allow clinicians to designate) frequently used surgical codes so that they can be pulled up quickly.
Plastic surgery-specific templates Some systems will include templates designed specifically for the plastic surgery practice, such as templates for various types of injections, implants (or implant removal), laser procedures and more.
Hands-free dictation Plastic surgery exams are often hands-on, so physicians benefit from software that can enable hands-free notation. Many solutions include hands-free dictation features.
Scheduling Many plastic surgeons need to schedule patients in multiple locations: different hospitals where surgeries are performed, as well as an office location where exams are performed. The right practice management software will facilitate these complex scheduling needs.

Not all software for plastic surgery will include all of these features, and different systems will support various features to different degrees. Plastic surgeons should identify the features most critical to their practices.

Expected Benefits

Robust plastic surgery software will help you to better organize your practice and spend your time more effectively. You should expect the following benefits when when implementing and using a system properly:

  • Efficiency: You didn’t become a doctor to fill out forms and file paperwork, yet that may be what you find yourself spending the majority of your time doing. With plastic surgery software systems you can streamline your process so that you can spend more time working with your patients and less time making sure all of the paperwork gets to the right place. The system will automatically file and organize paperwork and images, with access granted to everyone in the practice, making administration much easier.
  • Organization: When you frequently have to schedule exams and surgeries in multiple locations, it can be easy for you—and your patients—to get disorganized. With practice management software organizing your scheduling, you can automatically track who needs to be where, when they need to be there, and what they need to have with them. Both your employees and your patients will be less likely to be confused about where and when an appointment is scheduled.
  • Improved patient relations: Although efficiency and organization alone should make your patients happier with your practice, plastic surgery software can also specifically improve their experience with you as their doctor. Hands-free dictation can let you spend more time talking to and examining them, rather than looking down at a chart, while image management functionality means you can easily share with them the x-rays, before-and-after photos and explanatory diagrams that can help put their minds at ease.

Important Considerations

Aside from the features mentioned above, there are a few market-level trends and distinctions plastic surgery practices should be aware of.

Software as a Service (SaaS). This refers to cloud-based or Web-based software, which can be accessed online through an Internet browser, rather than stored locally on a practice’s servers. The easy remote and on-the-go access of SaaS software, as well as the reduced up-front costs (since hardware costs are minimized), make SaaS solutions particularly popular with plastic surgeons. To learn more about SaaS medical software, read our Web-based EMR guide.

Mobile support. Perhaps, due in part to the tech-forward approach of many plastic surgery practices (as well as the tactile nature of the profession), tablet usage is especially popular among plastic surgeons. Many solutions support tablet or smartphone use. Those seeking plastic surgery system for Mac will be especially drawn to systems that are designed specifically for iPad use at the point of care, such as Modernizing Medicine’s Electronic Medical Assistant. For more on tablet-supported solutions, check out our iPad EMR guide.

Meaningful use. Thanks to 2009’s HITECH Act, the U.S. government offers monetary incentives for practices to adopt and “meaningfully use” certified electronic health records (EHR) systems. (The terms “EHR” and “EMR” are often used interchangeably, though some rough distinctions are emerging.) Practices who treat Medicare or Medicaid patients may choose to participate in the Medicare or Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs, in which case they’ll need to adopt an EHR that is “certified” by one of the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) for Health Information Technology’s Authorized Testing and Certification Bodies—known as ONC-ATCBs. To read more about certified software, check out our ONC-ATCB-certified EMR guide.

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