There are many reasons why a health care practice would turn to a practice management tool — and not just because they needed to implement a solution before the national EMR/EHR deadline. Those reasons include: simplifying and easing everyday tasks, better managing of billing responsibilities, creating time-saving templates, and reconciling the inevitable differences between small- and large-sized practices.
Like any other kind of software solution, users say they have issues with glitches or bugs, clunky manual input, and frustrations when the tools don’t integrate as easily (or at all) with preferred third-party extensions. However, because practice management tools are built to streamline and automate a health care practice, clinic or office as a whole, the following bullet points focus on what users do like about their tools.
Streamlining of everyday tasks
Practice management solutions’ primary function is to streamline the time-consuming and arduous requirements of synchronizing tasks that span across the administrative, regulatory and financial. Keeping tabs on and atop of those tasks can sometimes get in the way of providing quality service to patients. When users come across solutions that automate and minimize everything from manual entry to clicking around patients’ files to patient portals, users find relief.
If you are looking for a tool that will streamline your everyday tasks, keep an eye out for features such as regulatory compliance, flexibility and data tracking. Read more in these reviews:
In his GE Centricity Practice Solution review, Bill H wrote: “Centricity Analytics is also my best friend. I want to be able to run reports on various elements and this application allows me to do so…. I believe there is still room for improvement when it comes to form utilization and workflow processes. The product is fully functional for any medical practice. It has all the components to be compliant with the ONC and other regulatory processes.”
In her GE Centricity Practice Solution review, Deb M wrote: “Centricity Practice Solutions or CPS has provided us with a platform for a vertical build. It has seamless interoperability. It is a flexible system that allows you to develop the workflow that works for your practice …. On the Clinical side the system has observation terms which allows us to track data. Observation terms is a very powerful tool that allows us to not only be more productive but able to produce outcome results.”
Easy-to-use billing features
Essentially, health care practices and hospitals reside within the service industry. Medical and health care professionals crank out invoices and must keep an eye on reimbursements and other billing responsibilities. Having a handle on claims and payments greatly eases a practice’s administrative workload.
Some practice management tools will either bundle in billing features or make easy the integration with third-party billing tools. However, users take note when the billing functionality of practice management solutions are transparent and easy to use, and take workflow into account. Some of the benefits of easy-to-use billing features include:
Ellen B wrote in her Kareo review that the greatest benefit from using the platform is that through the “billing service the benefits are that the practices can see exactly what is going on. They can see our work and we can see their work. This creates a trust factor between the client and the billing service.”
Similarly, Kareo user Donna M likes the product because: “Kareo is the first billing/practice management platform that has really taken a look at the workflow of all of the relevant parties in a practice; provider, front desk, AND billing. So many other systems make the claims follow up and tracking portions of their system feel like you are fighting a losing battle. I love how simple it is to send claims and how easy it is to filter out items to get to the data that you really need …. The integration with other EMR systems to generate encounters has saved me so much data entry time.”
Practice management tools aren’t just used by administrators or billing professionals; they’re used by nurses, practitioners and other front-line staff. And they’re all incredibly busy people, so when they discover preset templates that minimize input time, they glom onto that usefulness.
If you’re looking for a tool that will reduce the time nurses, physicians and practitioners usually spend on charting and transcribing, keep an eye out for practice management tools that provide pre-completed templates. Read more in the following review:
In a Cerner review, one user wrote: “I worked in an emergency department transcribing electronic medical records. The Cerner software we used in the ED made my job much easier by offering pre completed templates as well as allowing me to save “macros”. I also found it useful that the templates were mostly pre completed with insert points, and there was the option to edit the templates as well. I also appreciate that diagnostic imaging and labs will auto-populate into the chart just with a few clicks.”
Accomodation of differing practice size and speciality
Not all health care practices are giant hospitals. Smaller clinics do exist, and practice management tools that are flexible enough to fit offices of any size are beneficial for users. On the flip side, some users seek solutions that are built specifically for smaller-sized practices. Similarly, not all practices are physicians’ offices. Different health care settings have unique requirements, and users like it when they find solutions that are tailored for their setting.
If you are looking for a tool that will fulfill your practice’s requirements and needs, regardless of practice size or specialty, keep an eye out for a flexible practice management solution or one that is customized to your health care setting. Read more in these reviews:
According to Stacy A in her GE Centricity Practice Solution review: “The flexibility of the system to fit all types of offices and specialties. No matter if you need to bill physician charges, dental or anesthesia, the system assists staff to be successful. The system has the ability to modify to users workflow and not the other way around.”
In her WebPT review, Annette K, who works in a physical therapist office, wrote about what she liked best: “Scheduling for multiple providers, paperless, electronic medical records, quickly upload documentation for patient chart; ex. insurance cards, medication list, referral, etc. Missed notes report, lost patient report, productivity report.”
A user of NextGen, this dentist wrote: “As a dentist, I enjoy that I can easily transition from Dentrix to NextGen to check my patient’s medical history, including diagnosis list, medications, allergies, and labs, within seconds…. It is much more convenient to have all the medical information at my finger tips [sic] so that I can minimize medical consults and shorten the number of wasted appointments for patients (and for the practice).”
Practice management is an interesting space, since hospitals and other health care practices and offices don’t generally get to experience the positives or consequences of solutions that don’t-quite-fit until years after they’ve been deployed.
However, the practice management software industry is a wide-ranging one, which is beneficial. Existing users can lean on customized customer support and a relative user community that can help smooth user experience. And potential users can breathe a sigh of relief, as there are myriad options in tools that can address their own practice’s requirements and needs.
Despite the frustrations with practice management tools functionality, the majority of users do acknowledge that they do, overall, benefit to moving towards a platform that digitizes, synchronizes, and tracks paperwork and patient data. However, they all strongly recommend reading as many reviews as possible during the software renewal cycle, to gauge which practice management solution better suits their practice in the future.