Managing your own practice is a dream for many healthcare professionals. However practice management is not a small or easy task. Managing the practice means taking care of many aspects from finance, employees, equipment etc. Unfortunately not every dentist is an expert business manager. This is why many graduates prefer to work for a hospital or practice for a few years before setting out on their own.
Quite a few practices now have dedicated managers to take care of the business aspects. A business manager becomes imperative beyond a certain size of clinic. A sole practitioner can more easily juggle the various aspects of running a practice than a large clinic. Some dentists prefer to bring in experts for various processes because they lack the knowledge or expertise to do it on their own.
In many cases, it makes sense to have a practice manager even if you do have the knowledge to do it yourself. As a dentist, your first priority is always your patients. Most dentists want to spend more time with their patients, not less. So why bother with less important processes that someone else can take care of?
Practice Management Software
Technology is making its presence felt in every industry and every aspect of our lives. Practice management is no different. EHR systems can help you manage the growing volume of patients and documentation. Similarly practice management software can automate and digitize various tasks for you.
The first generations of practice management systems were rudimentary and lacked many of the features we take for granted today. Those tools also did not work well with other digital systems like EHRs, electronic billing software and so on. Today interoperability and ease of use is the guiding principle for most practice management software. In fact the line between EHRs and practice management software is blurring by the day. Many vendors bundle their practice management tools and EHR capabilities in the same application.
Practice Management – Important Factors
Choosing a practice management software that is appropriate for your clinic can be difficult. Some software products focus on certain aspects to the detriment of others. Sometimes EHRs and practice management software have overlapping capabilities, especially if you purchase them from different vendors. For the first step is to make sure that you are not inadvertently duplicating features between systems. Take a look at your existing EHR and make note of missing features. Then you can look at a practice management system that fills those holes.
Perhaps the most important requirement in a practice management software is financial management. Features like tracking patient balances, verifying insurance eligibility and benefits, automating billing processes etc. can be invaluable in streamlining your finances. Make sure the practice management software can generate various financial reports that will help you in managing your practice.
Claim management is another area of importance. The ability to track claims in real-time is critical for practice management. You can see which claims are pending, which have been processed and the ones that have been accepted. Claims can be rejected for a variety of reasons and some of them can be trivial. Your software should let you edit and resubmit claims without opening several windows for the single task.
Nowadays many vendors integrate that he EHR and practice management capabilities in the same system. This makes it easier to move data between applications. You don’t have to worry about conversions, import/export etc. For instance, you can schedule patient appointments in the PMS and view their associated clinical notes within the EHR. If you don’t yet have any EHR system, you might want to look at integrated solutions that combine everything in one place.