Practice management tools are the software designed to perform specific activities related to day-to-day practices. Choosing the right tools and software is important to meet business requirements and efficiently manage clinical operations.
Components of a practice management system
- Scheduling appointments
It is one of the major aspects of daily operations. Majority of software provide a scheduling and calendar tool for easy and efficient scheduling of appointments. It helps to track patient visits and run the practice smoothly.
- Patient information
Accuracy is the key to a successful medical practice. Practice management tools allow staff to create patient information charts that contain all the required patient information and are easily accessible.
- Clinic/ hospital-related reports
Generating reports such as self-assessment, financial reports, quality of care etc. is an important function. Some tools also offer a common platform for medical personnel, patients and insurance companies where patient data and reports can be easily accessed.
- Billing tasks
Having a system that matches your workflow and enables a smooth conduct of an otherwise tedious billing process is an added advantage as this betters the patient experience.
Features in a practice management tool
1. Streamlining and automation
A good practice management system can streamline your entire work. It will allow you to customize tasks while having a practical and user-friendly approach. Streamlining will help in simplifying billing and collection of payments. Automation reduces manual labour to a great extent, thereby reducing errors. This may allow your patients to request for an appointment at their choice of time using the online forms.
Flexibility becomes important as there are too many tasks to handle and switch over within less time. Using multiple devices per convenience, customizable correspondence features and easy communication with patients are few of the important considerations of having a flexible patient management system.
A good tool will help you customize the patient data per your requirements, making it readily available.
Customizable scheduling features for larger practices are particularly useful in case of patient no-shows and back-fills, to have an eye on the workflow or to practice from more than one location.
4. Value addition: save time, save money:
Initially a good practice management tool or a system may seem to be expensive. However, the value that it generates by saving time and increasing your practice reputation will allow your practice to grow manifold in very little time.
If the cost of the tool doesn’t fit within your current funds, a loan for doctors could be your solution as it comes with a high loan amount of Rs. 20 lakh and is a tailor-made solution for doctors who want to expand their practice.
Criteria for choosing the best clinic management tool
While choosing to buy a system or a tool check:
1. If the tool or system can accommodate your entire practice
Look for a system that can efficiently handle documents like patient appointment history, patient records and reports and also have resource planning capabilities so that the staff can easily identify doctor availability, room availability, the equipment needed and various important activities.
2. If it can easily integrate with other systems
The systems that are already in use should be optimally utilized by integrating into the new tool. System integration can be tedious and time-consuming. However, it can save a lot a manual labour and time.
3. If it offers good post-installation and technical support from the vendor
Customer reviews can surely help to buy a good quality product which provides post installation support.
Continuous vendor support is something that one needs to look for before zeroing in on a system.
4. If it is a web-based or an on-site system
Practice management systems can be installed on physical on-site computer systems or can be accessed using the internet. You may choose one, depending on your professional requirement.
5. If it allows internal messaging and patient feedback
Patients can have a tough time at a clinic repeating their grievances to more than one staff member. Having a system that communicates to the team internally about the patient’s concern in the form of notes or internal messaging will improve patient experience.
Additional read: Essentials of clinic management
Companies offering practice management software
According to a survey in 2017 conducted by softwaresuggest.com, the top ten software for practice management in India are:
- Clinic Master
- Ipatient Care
The cost involved
The software can vary in their range of cost from a few hundred rupees per month to a few thousand. For example, some companies offer web-based software and apply charges per the number of users and few others charge at the rate of Rs. 499 per month. The software offered by the top 5 companies mentioned above range between $250 to $500 i.e. (about Rs. 16,000 - Rs. 32,000) which is, again, subject to variation due to practice size, task complexity, available features, choice of platform and deployment method. The variety that is on offer is huge, leaving you to choose the best tools that suit your practice needs. Every practice is different from the other; use these points to consider the right option, given the plethora of tools that are available. Ensuring that your practice management system is feature-packed helps you to perform seamless transactions. The more efficient the tool is, the more streamlined your practice would be.
Additional read: Questions to think when looking for a doctor loan provider
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