Are you spending a lot of time on researching medical software for your small practice? With the wide variety of features that vendors offer, choosing a solution can be daunting. And the extra time you spend searching takes the focus away from patient care.
Regardless of your practice’s size and experience in using medical software, you need a firm understanding of the software’s features so you don’t waste money or time on a new tool. For instance, the claims management feature may be relevant to practices that have in-house billing, but not for practices that outsource their billing.
In this article, we’ll showcase the essential features you should definitely look for when evaluating medical software systems for your small practice.
- Essential features for all small medical practices: These are the key, indispensable functionalities that all small practices must look for in a medical software solution.
- Essential features for small medical practices with in-house billing: These features become important depending on your practice’s specific needs. It’s good to have at least one of these in your medical software solution.
Here’s a graphical representation of all the important medical software features:
Read on for a deeper dive into the key features that small medical practices should look for in medical software solutions.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
Essential Features for All Small Medical Practices
Selected from our medical needs cycle report, these features are vital for medical practices that are just starting their operations and all small medical practices.
These core features enhance the daily operations of small practices. They improve the quality of patient care, which in turn, improves patient satisfaction levels. They’ll help you maximize your staff’s efficiency and save valuable time that’s otherwise wasted on doing these tasks manually.
Let’s take a detailed look at these core features:
Patient scheduling helps small practices set and manage patient appointments. You can enter a patient’s appointment time, contact information, demographics and any complaints they have.
Business value to small practices: If you’re still using general scheduling tools, such as Google Calendar or Microsoft Outlook, switch to a dedicated patient schedule solution. These tools streamline the appointment scheduling process and let you send automated reminders to patients via phone, text message or email.
This way, patients are more likely to show up at their scheduled appointment times, which means more revenue.
According to a 2018 survey, 45 percent of patients prefer to use online methods to schedule their appointments. This number will only grow as more and more people adopt health-related technology.
Electronic Health Records (EHR)
The electronic health records (EHR) feature automates your clinical operations. It helps physicians prepare patient charts and save them digitally. This feature helps you track patient demographics, histories, SOAP notes, medications and test results. Other common offerings of EHR include order entry, decision support and clinical reporting.
The EHRs are also available as stand-alone solutions.
Business value to small practices: EHRs play the biggest role in addressing the federal and state government’s health care regulations that incentivize the adoption of health care technology (e.g., MACRA and MIPS).
EHR adoption also offers various other benefits such as improved clinical reporting, greater care coordination and increased accessibility to patient data. You can also electronically prescribe medication and deliver lab test results.
Medical billing systems help small practices generate patient statements, manage payments collected from patients and create financial reports. They also automate the process of medical coding, as well as submitting and tracking insurance claims.
Small practices can either outsource their medical billing to third parties or do it in-house using medical billing software.
Business value to small practices: Medical billing software helps small practices automate error-prone, cumbersome and repetitive billing tasks. It makes it easy to manage patients’ insurance claims internally and quickly process payments received from patients.
For a small practice, in-house billing is considered cost effective because you can manage and adjust the changes yourself. This isn’t possible with a third party where you have to comply with their policies. In addition, a third party generally takes a cut from the revenue.
Essential Features for Small Medical Practices With In-House Billing
Besides the above-mentioned essential features that are useful for all small medical practices, some practices that have in-house billing need additional software features. For these practices, claims management, insurance verification and patient statements are important features.
Our revenue cycle management software buyer’s guide lists these important features as key for certain small practices. Let’s look at these features in more detail.
The claims management feature of medical software allows small medical practices to maintain a database of existing and past insurance claims. Medical staff and physicians can accurately file and submit patients’ claims to insurance companies, keep claims updated at all times and track the status of all claims.
The solution double-checks all claims for any errors, which reduces the chances of denied claims.
Business value to small practices with in-house billing: Claims management helps medical practices get paid much more quickly because they can digitally send patient claims to insurance companies. This improves cash flow, in addition to ensuring error-free claims. This feature boosts your first-time pass-through rate and prevents rework.
To reduce chances of denied claims, the software reviews all claims for key components (such as patient details, claim eligibility, amount requested etc.) before sending it to insurance companies.
Insurance Eligibility Verification
This feature allows small practices to gather patient insurance information and verify their insurance eligibility. By checking the patient’s insurance information beforehand, small practices can avoid situations where patients are unable to make payments.
Business value to small practices with in-house billing: Insurance eligibility verification improves the chances of insurance companies accepting or processing the submitted claims more quickly. This improves your practice’s cash flow. You’ll also improve patient satisfaction by helping them update their insurance coverage in advance.
The patient statements feature helps small practices prepare and send detailed statements to patients. It includes information such as the amount covered by insurance, amount owed by patients and options for making payments. You can also create custom messages for different types of patient statements.
Business value to small practices with in-house billing: Patient statements help medical practices accelerate their cash flow. The personalized documents include the accurate amount that patients need to pay the practice.
With the option of multiple payment methods, practices receive payments much faster. And if a patient doesn’t pay, the feature lets you automate payment reminders and the process of printing and mailing a paper statement.
While this section is intended to provide information about secondary medical software features and when you’ll need them, they should be considered necessary when you have in-house billing or plan to adopt it. If your practice isn’t big enough to require a billing feature, you can skip these features and focus on the essential three at the top.
What Solution Do I Choose?
This article helps you understand the benefits offered by the various features in medical software. The right solution is one that meets all the specific requirements of your small medical practice.
To learn more about the latest medical software and get guidance on the priority of your business needs, call us at (844) 686-5616 for a free consultation with a software advisor.
You can also download a checklist of the above mentioned features to understand if a vendor you’re considering offers these functionalities in their solution.
Important: How to Use This Checklist
- Download the checklist to calculate the score of a particular medical software on the above essential features.
- Choose “Yes” or “No” for each of the features on the list to indicate whether the tool offers that feature or not.
- Add details about each essential feature in the “Comments” section, such as “only offered as a third-party integration.”
- Repeat steps 1 to 3 to rank similar software solutions based on their essential features score.
To further help you understand the landscape of medical software, we’ve created a number of detailed buyer guides. Here’s a small list of helpful guides:
Note: The information contained in this article has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable. The applications selected are examples to show a feature in context, and are not intended as endorsements or recommendations.