on 21 March 2017
When it comes to operating the administrative side of a medical office, practice management systems can streamline the process, making communication with patients, appointment scheduling and billing more efficient.
A practice management system is a type of healthcare software used by staff within a hospital, clinic or office to handle the day-to-day operations of every department. Through it, users can perform a variety of the important administrative tasks necessary to provide healthcare from start to finish.
As Frank Quinn, a health IT analyst, explained in a contributing report for MedCity News, “Implementing practice management within your office will give you the freedom to pay attention to your most important stakeholders, namely the patients.”
“More time devoted to your patients means more focused and improved care delivery,” he stated.
In general, these systems often provides features and functionalities for patient scheduling and communication; generating administrative reports; revenue cycle automation, including transactions with health insurance companies; clinical documentation; patient billing and collections; systems reporting; visual resource planning; and HIPPA privacy and security compliance. The software also can be used to store health records and patient demographics, including medical history, medication lists, insurance eligibility and appointment history.
The industry’s top systems are certified through the Council for Affordable Quality Healthcare’s Committee for Operating Rules of Information Exchange (CORE) and accredited through the Practice Management System Accreditation Program (PMSAP), developed through a partnership between the Electronic Healthcare Network Accreditation Commission (EHNAC) and the Workgroup for Electronic Data Interchange (WEDI). This creates a reliable framework and standard for system functionality across the industry.
How do medical practices benefit from a practice management system?
Faced with many financial and technological demands, combined with limited budgets and resources, single providers in particular rely on practice management systems for handling daily operations, according to an article on Medical Practice Insider. However, multi-provider practices also experience numerous benefits from implementing a practice management system.
Throughout the healthcare industry, these systems are used to achieve automated, batch and real-time health plan transactions and reduce the need for manual processes throughout the revenue cycle. By doing so, practices can achieve revenue maximization.
Because all administrative activities are performed through the same system, it is easier for the entire staff to be on the same page and for patients to stay informed of upcoming appointments, payment of bills and test results. This leads to more productive operations and the mitigation of errors throughout the whole practice. By providing overviews of day-to-day details, the system can serve as a useful point of reference and safeguard against forgetting important tasks as staff members manage their daily workflows, according to Medical Practice Insider.
Additionally, practice management software provides easier access to digital records by storing data in an accessible, secure location, rather than relying on physical filing cabinets. Physicians and other staff members have nearly instantaneous access to information about a patient’s previous treatment or medication, insurance and billing information and other important data so “the practice can operate in an accurate, timely manner,” according to Medical Practice Insider.
Another way practices benefit from using the management system is simplified billing. Users can easily complete financial transactions, bill patients and process claims. The software also maintains records of past transactions and can be integrated into online patient portals, allowing them to see and pay their bills on a secure website.
Choosing and applying a system
Different practices have their particular needs, which is why it’s important they find a system with the right functionality and features to best complete their intended operations. The American Medical Association and Medical Group Management Association put together a webinar that provides a six-step process for practices to identify, evaluate and select a product that fits their needs.
A majority of practice management system platforms include functions for basic tasks – such as medical billing, financial reporting and claims management – but practices also have the option of adding functionalities, such as input interfaces, integration with other software systems and specialty-specific needs, according to a purchasing guide by TechnologyAdvice.
As practices work toward establishing a strong financial standing, boosting overall productivity and, most importantly, serving patients proficiently, utilizing a suitable practice management system is a critical part of more readily accomplishing those goals.
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