Establishing your private practice can sometimes be a challenge.
Between caring for patients, keeping administration processes and patient records in check can be a balancing act for both practitioners and their administration staff.
For some, it could potentially lead to mental and physical burnout.
Before selecting a practice management tool, it is important to understand the functionality of different practice management tools, our future plans and how you intend to use the tool to best service the needs of everyone involved in your practice.
Ben Steel and Zipporah French, the gifted minds behind Envisage IT and Prescribe Practice Management, respectively, have shared their knowledge so you, and your administration team, can operate to your full potential.
Here are their top tips and advice on what you should consider before selecting your practice management tool.
Ben is the proud CEO behind Envisage, providing cutting-edge cyber security measures and expert IT advice for medical professionals and practices.
Below are his top tips on how to select the best practice management practice tool for your business.
- Reach out to your peers
Every speciality is different. For instance, a dermatologist will have different requirements to a cardiologist. While a dermatologist may be interested in the automation of patient registration because they are seeing such a large volume of patients a cardiologist, on the other hand, might be interested in what diagnostic devices integrate with the practice management tools.
When it comes to selecting the right practice management tool for you, I would recommend you talk to other clinicians about what tools they use and what works for them.
- Choose wisely
There are a lot of practice management tools that get built but they never change or expand perhaps due to a lack of funds. So, understanding and considering the development pipeline of these products is important. Some things to consider include: where are they going? What is the aim behind developing the tool?
These questions are crucial because changing practice software is extremely difficult and costly. So, if you have made the wrong choice upfront, it’s hard to move away and challenging to move data across from one application to another.
- Enquire about any acquisitions
It’s a great idea to ask whether the company that developed the practice management tool has been acquired recently.
What does this acquisition mean for the organisation? There might be a change in strategy. If there’s a recent acquisition, how well-funded are they? Considering these questions may help you foresee any issues down the track.
- Make sure you are Medicare web services compliant
There are big changes coming to Medicare. Medicare has always undertaken billing through a specific application, but in March 2022 Medicare will be cutting that service off and practitioners will need to transition to the new web services platform. If a doctor starts a new practice in January 2022 and are not compliant by March they will strike problems with their Medicare billings.
- What is the tool’s security profile and how is this managed?
When choosing your practice management tool, it’s important to know where the data resides. Is it on an Australian server? Also, how is the data backed up?
Additionally, in the event the company disappears, how do you access the data? Have you got an offline copy of your data available to you?
- What mobility options are there?
These days doctors are moving between states, not just hospitals; so, the ability to access your clinical records whenever and wherever you may be is critical. The option to download an app on your phone or Ipad are very important tools for a doctor who’s on the go
Ensure you know what the mobility options are of your practice management tool, how easy they are to use and what this means for you and your specific requirements.
- Is there a patient portal and automation for patient booking and registration?
How do you make the patient journey as easy as possible? In the past, patients would record their details using pen and paper and pass it over to the receptionist who then manually enters the information and scans in the referral.
These days tools are available that automate the booking process; for example, HotDoc could integrate with the practice management tool and manage the booking of an appointment, patient registration and upload of referral.
With 28 years’ experience in the medical industry, Zipporah French is the mind behind Practice Management, a Practice Management Consultancy Company, that focuses not just on administration, but a comprehensive selection of services in and around practice management.
- Do your research
There are many practice management tools out there; so, before you decide on a tool, make sure you receive a demonstration of the product and even have a go yourself, so you get to grasp and understand the functionality behind it.
Also, for greater efficiency, ensure you know how to also operate the tools your admin team use for daily tasks in case there are any technical issues. This will benefit you, your staff and your patients in the long run.
- Don’t be fooled by the bells and whistles
Some programs will claim to have all the bells and whistles, but the most important thing is the basic functionality. Can the tool perform all the tasks that are necessary to run your practice efficiently and effectively?
Don’t be blinded by the bells and whistles if the fundamentals are not there.
- What support is available?
It’s one thing to sign up to a program but, if you are not sure about something or you can’t perform a task, where are you going to get the answers from?
Is there any support provided and how accessible and fast is that support?
What are the ongoing costs associated with the program? Is it a subscription-based program or a user base? If it’s a user base program it means every time you add a user, you will be charged.
Take the time to understand the cost structure of the program so you don’t get caught out.
- Enhance patient experience.
Are there functions that will enhance patient experience. Whether that’s the ability for your patient to pay an invoice online or upload medical reports, these are valuable options to consider.
Make sure you choose a reliable tool that helps you manage your cashflow and reporting with ease.
Ensure you have a strong understanding of how your backend reporting system looks like; so, when you’re looking into your finances, you can clearly see money coming in as well as the number of patients you’re seeing to help you with any analysis you need to document.
With hundreds of practice management tools on the market, selecting the right one to best service your needs and requirements can be difficult – particularly if you’re new to private practice. Careful consideration must be given before you select your tool because ‘changing your mind’ and switching to another tool down the track is not so simple.