Understanding Practice Management Software

Practice Management  

Are you looking to make your practice more productive and streamline your billing workflow and patient management processes? Practice management can help.

The American Medical Association defines the goal of practice management as enhancing practice efficiency, professional satisfaction and the delivery of patient care. Organizations deploy practice management to manage registration, scheduling, patient tracking, patient accounting and reporting through a single workflow across all clinic operations. This enables a single platform to collect payments on all patient accounts.

Practice Management Software

Practice management software (PM software) is designed to help medical offices of any size run more efficiently. Typically, small and medium-size practices use PM software to manage daily operations like financial and administrative functions; some offices use it to connect with electronic medical records.

The most common capabilities of PM software include:

  • Entering and tracking patients
  • Recording patient demographics
  • Scheduling patient appointments
  • Managing charge capture
  • Performing billing procedures
  • Submitting insurance claims
  • Processing payments from patients, insurance providers and third parties
  • Generating reports for staff members

Medical practice management software requires just an internet connection and a simple computer network. It can be deployed three different ways: as desktop-only software, client-server software or Internet-based software.

Desktop-only software: Used on a single computer by no more than a few people who share access.

Client-server software: Allows multiple users to share data and access to an on-site server that the practice must purchase or lease.

Internet-based software: Users access the system over the Internet, which eliminates the need to purchase a server but moves patient data outside the practice office.

In addition to databases of patient records that a practice may maintain, medical practice management software manages large sets of data, including lists of ICD codes, procedures, insurance companies, medical facilities, physicians and other providers in the health care system.

Benefits of Practice Management Software

Practice management software can help clinics and patients in many different ways. Here are some examples of the most common instances that happen every day at a practice:

Benefits for clinics

The front desk staff will not have to make copies of a patient’s insurance card. Instead, they simply scan the card and PM software captures the relevant information.

The billing department and other staff who are responsible for resubmitting insurance claims will appreciate that PM software automates this tedious task. Not only does this save time, but it also can boost cash flow.

Physicians can use the software to validate a procedure for a patient diagnosis with an insurance company before ordering it. In addition, by streamlining the administrative functions required to run a practice, PM software gives physicians more time to treat patients.

Benefits for patients

PM software can help patients who are uncertain about their insurance coverage or confused by an Explanation of Benefits. A receptionist using the software will be able to verify insurance eligibiity and inform patients if they have a balance due.

Examples of how PM software might help your practice:

Easier access to electronic health records. Because PM software maintains documents and data online, it streamlines operations within a practice, including the ability to search EHR documents.

Process reimbursements faster. PM software reduces paperwork and gives billers the ability to search through patient records as well as digital reports covering insurance information, remittances and claim advice.

Reduce errors. Practice management systems are integrated with the insurance and billing processes. Users can update patient information on a regular basis and the software itself is able to correct and update any mistakes it finds in the data.

Save time for office staff. PM software is designed to increase efficiencies and improve processes that are part of running a medical practice every day. It eliminates several office tasks related to collecting and verifying documents.

Important components of PM software:

Patient scheduling

Practice management systems include a scheduling function to create and track patient visits. Schedules for different providers within a practice can be color-coded to show appointment times, duration and sets of patients.

Claims process

Practice management systems also track electronic claims once they are submitted, either directly to an insurance payer or through an electronic claim clearinghouse. For claims in which a patient owes a balance due, a practice can use PM software to print and mail its own statements to patients.

Reporting capabilities

PM software allows for a wide range of practice reporting capabilities based on several customizable parameters. Some of the more common uses for reporting are financial performance (including billing and patient financial histories), scheduling and ICD codes. Software users can design their own reports or work with preset reports within the system.

Common features of PM software:

Automatic electronic reminders to patients via email or text message. This can reduce the amount of missed appointments and lead to increased revenue.

Automatic medical billing and verification of insurance coverage and eligibility.

A variety of billing code sets, including the Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System (HCPCS), Common Procedure Coding (CPT) system and the current International Classification of Diseases (ICD).

Card scanner inferface for front-office staff to swipe medical insurance cards. This can help reduce the risk of fraudulent claims.

Customized security access enables administrators to provide different access levels for each individual user.

Electronic health record system integration gives practices the option of linking their medical practice management software. The potential benefit is improved record management.

Verified patient demographics with all registered insurance providers.

Practice Management Software and Electronic Medical Records

PM software can work together with electronic medical records (EMR) systems. However, integrating the two can be a challenge if a medical practice chooses different vendors for the systems. Improving this integration is a priority for some companies developing medical practice management software.

An EMR is a digital version of a patient’s medical history at an individual practice. The technology gained attention in 2009 when the U.S. government created financial incentives for companies to increase the use of information technology in the healthcare industry, including the adoption of electronic health records.

As a result of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH Act), medical practices have increased their implementation of EMR systems. In addition to helping physicians improve patient care, some data collected by the systems is shared with public health officials.

While some patient information in an EMR also may be contained in a practice management system, PM software is used for a different purpose—for administrative and financial functions.

Practice Management With Centricity Practice Solution

For nearly 20 years, HealthCo has been helping physicians and clinic administrators to be more productive. This enhanced productivity has led to greater profitability for medical practices and improved service and communications for their patients.

HealthCo understands what practices need to manage their business. We configure software-based solutions for practices that need help with EMR and medical practice management. From classroom instruction to self-guided learning, HealthCo is uniquely prepared to help clinic admins and physicians learn more and do more with Centricity™ Practice Solution.

Centricity Practice Solution makes tasks like scheduling, billing and filing insurance claims much easier to manage. Whether on its own or paired with the EMR platform, Centricity Practice Solution’s PM functionality helps reduce costs and boost productivity.

Healthcare practices of all sizes face regulatory changes and reimbursement challenges. An integrated EMR and practice management system like Centricity Practice Solution can help practices to adapt to these industry changes.

Customization and interoperability are two key advantages of Centricity Practice Solution. It has an EMR that can be tailored to use a uniform vocabulary, customizable fields for common conditions and workflow configurations tailored to an individual practice. Standards-based interoperability lets Centricity connect with nearly any hospital EMR or PM system.

In addition, Centricity prepares a clinic for Meaningful Use attestation, ICD-10 and HIPAA 5010 requirements. Centricity also provides access to more than 20 million patient records and 20 years worth of clinical data that helps provide physicians greater insight into chronic medical conditions.

With GE Healthcare’s Practice Management solution, clinic staff can:

  • Reduce manual billing and paperwork
  • Speed up the payment process for better cash flow
  • Receive faster reimbursement decisions from insurance companies
  • Process claims more efficiently and effectively
  • Schedule patient visits
  • Share information with other staff in the clinic
  • Easily add new patients to the database
  • Integrate legacy IT systems
  • Spend less time on paperwork and more time with patients

Discover how Practice Management With GE Centricity can help your practice increase productivity and enhance cash flow.

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