The number and variety of business software available today can make it difficult to choose the best program for your facility. Medical practices have special needs and considerations that must be taken into account when looking for data storage and recordkeeping, and in addition, each practice is unique in the way it functions, its needs and requirements, and the preferences of the people who work there. Choosing the right software for your small medical practice can be overwhelming, but there are a few key factors to consider:
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Identify Your Needs
Before you start looking into software for your business, make a list of your needs and desires. Determine what specific functions you need the software to perform, such as scheduling appointments, managing patient records, billing, and insurance claims. Consider what you are looking for in EHR software, and what features you need. Also consider what features aren’t must-haves, and whether you can find these needs in one program or if you will need to buy several.
The needs of small medical practices may vary, depending on the specialization and the number of customers. For instance, you might need more robust physical therapy billing software to eliminate hidden glitches, billing errors, and compliance issues in the claims process and improve reimbursements.
Along with listing your unique needs and desires, also consider listing the things you do not want in your program. Consider whether you need customization or would prefer something that is ready to go. Also, make sure you understand how many users would need to have access to the program, whether you want cloud-based or downloadable software, and whether you are okay with paying for a subscription service rather than a purchase. Remember, many software programs are only available on a subscription basis.
Consider Ease of Use
Look for software that is user-friendly and intuitive to use. Complex systems can be difficult for staff to navigate and may require additional training. While it can be tempting to go with complicated software because it has more features and is endlessly customizable, it won’t be worth it if you get frustrated with the challenges of implementing those features. If you have a background in IT or you have a dedicated IT employee, you may get farther with these complicated programs, but overall it’s a good idea to look for simplicity and practicality over customization and complexity. It may be easier to purchase a few individual software that each serve one need in a simple, straightforward way over purchasing one complicated program that claims to meet all your needs but is hard to understand and implement. Most important is the ability of your receptionists, nurses, and everyone in the office to be able to easily and quickly access the data they need without compromising patient confidentiality.
Once you have settled on a few potential software options, you will want to make sure they are what you need before you commit to them. Even if they have a free trial period or a good refund program, you will spend a lot of time and resources to set up an account and understand how to use the program, so it makes sense to evaluate them well. First, ensure that the software is compatible with your existing hardware and software systems. You likely already have spreadsheets of sales records, bookkeeping sheets, customer data, and contacts for your business and you will want to transfer those into your new program automatically.
You will also want to make sure the program will work with any other software you correctly use, such as a CRM, email, and phone software, inventory records, and more. If your new program isn’t compatible with your current ones, it might not be worth switching over, especially if you can find another similar software that is compatible.
Furthermore, choosing a compatible software program for your small medical practice involves a careful assessment of your current systems, business demands, and the available options in the market.Most often than not, compatibility issues arise because existing systems are obsolete. You might need to upgrade or replace your current systems to meet in between, ensuring you provide your patients with excellent medical services. Hiring an experienced IT specialist to evaluate your existing software and hardware systems helps address the technical side of things for a more informed buying decision.
Check for Security and Compliance
Ensure that the software is compliant with HIPAA regulations and has appropriate security measures in place to protect patient data. Cloud-based programs are convenient and allow for important data backups and redundancies, but they also leave your data at risk of being hacked. Make sure that your program has the best safety and security features, that the cloud-based backups are stored on multiple servers, and that they are encrypted. Not only will this keep you in compliance with state and federal laws, but it will also give you peace of mind that your data will not be destroyed in a natural disaster, theft event, or cyber attack, and that your practice and business will be able to weather such an event with its important data intact.
Look for Scalability
Choose a software system that can grow with your practice, as you add new providers or locations. While most subscription or cloud-based services allow you to add new users or upgrade to more advanced versions, this is something you will want to verify before you commit to a program. You have to make sure that you can add more computers and locations to the service and that people will be able to access the same data, customer information, and patient records no matter what office or computer they are on. Also take into account the increased cost that many programs have in the upper tiers, and make sure that if you scale your business, the cost of the software won’t become prohibitive.
Check for Customer Support
Look for a vendor that offers excellent customer support, including training, technical support, and ongoing updates. Once you commit to a program or software and your team understands how to use it, it becomes difficult to switch to a different one if you are dissatisfied. This is why it’s a good idea to read reviews and find word-of-mouth recommendations on the program and its customer support before you commit. When you are implementing complicated programs that handle, store, and sort important or private information, it’s essential to have quick access to support and troubleshooting help when you need it.
Compare the cost of different software systems, including any upfront costs, ongoing fees, and training costs. Remember to take into account the potential cost of upgrading your program in the future, and find out if there is an additional fee to use features that you will need. When comparing, make sure that you understand all the costs that will be involved and that you don’t overlook anything you may have to pay, such as start-up costs, data transfer, and support services.
When weighing the cost of software solutions and IT services, consider your options. For instance, you can start with the basic package and change your plan to use additional features as you scale your medical practice. Factor in the agreement, such as a monthly or yearly contract, and the billing method, like an automatic subscription or manual renewal, to avoid interrupting your operations. Read the fine print, and don’t hesitate to ask the software provider about the possible fees for the solution you want.
Look for reviews from other medical practices to get an idea of the software’s strengths and weaknesses. If the look and function of the program are important to you, consider dedicating some time to watching full-length, detailed demos and reviews that allow you to see the program in action. This will help you understand if the software is right for your practice, if it will work well for your specific needs, and how easy it is to implement and use. Because it is true that dissatisfied customers are more likely to leave reviews than happy ones, try to find balanced reviews that explain the positives and negatives in an understandable way.
While every business, small and large, has cyber concerns, software needs, and large amounts of data to store and organize, medical facilities have special needs and requirements to consider. By thinking about these special requirements, you have to do an informed decision and choose the best software for your medical practice. You will be able to find a program that is simple and effective, safe and reliable, and helps your team work more efficiently and provide the best service to your patients.