Are you considering further automating your practice through the purchase of practice management software or another integrated system? These purchases are not inexpensive and the search for “just the right system” can be frustrating. If you’re not “tech savvy,” the many changes in automation can be confusing.
You can minimize your frustration and maximize your purchase by taking these steps:
- Decide if you will use a client/server system or an application service provider (ASP) system. The former requires the installation of a server on-site. It also generally requires a much larger up-front expenditure, staff capable of handling the ongoing responsibilities of backup, and payment for upgrades. The latter allows your staff to access and use software on a network, including remotely. It generally is automatically upgraded but may also require payment of an ongoing monthly subscription fee for its use.
- List any anticipated plans for practice expansion and other changes that will occur within the near future (ICD codes, for example). Your system will need to be scalable — to continue to operate at peak efficiency while responding to changes.
- Determine your overall budget for the project.
- Consult with colleagues with similar practices and ask for their recommendations. Find out from them what works (and what doesn’t). Be sure to inquire about any system upgrades they’ve done. Ask about the level of customer service and the responsiveness of the company whose software they purchased.
- With the input of key office staff, create a list of all functions within your office that are or could be automated. What functions currently take more time than they should? What tasks are unproductive?
- Using your list from step 5, create a list of features you would like to have in your software system. Look for features that can make currently-unproductive tasks function efficiently. Many systems include features that look and sound great but which you may never use. Once system that is often neglected is your paper referrals, consider using ReferralMD to exchange, manage and track your referrals online. Reduced risk, staffing time, and increased revenues are a direct result.
- Choose software systems that incorporate your list of features and view software demos with key staff. Remember that staff who will be using the system on a day-to-day basis will need to be comfortable with it.
- Survey office staff and get their opinion about each of the systems reviewed. Rank each of the systems based upon your office survey results.
- Decide which system will best meet all your needs. Now is the time to ask each of the vendors you’re considering to answer the questions you have before you make your final purchase decision.
- Set a reasonable implementation timeframe that includes training time and time for working out any “bugs” before going live.
Don’t forget the final step: Congratulate yourself! Once the process is over, you will have taken a giant step toward improving your practice’s efficiency so that you and your staff can concentrate on patient care and on building your practice to be even more profitable.
For tips about this and other related topics, please contact us.
What are your thoughts?
What will you do today to improve the management of your practice?
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