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Practice Management Software: Features and Functions
There are plenty of necessary functions required for the ongoing success of a behavioral and mental health practice. Therapy software can automate many of them and leave you with more time for your patients. Here are just a few of the features of therapy practice management software.
By capturing proof of insurance with a PMS, practitioners can eliminate the time it takes to copy it and the risks associated with physical storage, like organization and security. A PMS can also check a patient's insurance eligibility, which is often a complicated procedure, given some insurance providers and the nature of therapy.
Claim tracking: Another time-consuming part of insurance processing is submitting claims, and a PMS can do this electronically. It can send claims to the insurance payer or a clearinghouse, freeing up more time for staff members.
Processing payments and billing: A PMS can handle processing your payments and other billing procedures. You can set up notifications to alert you when patients have open balances and keep detailed records of client billing.
Scheduling: One of the most convenient features in a PMS is a robust scheduler. A PMS may offer customizable appointment types and color-coding systems within an intuitive interface. Patients can often log into a patient portal to view their upcoming appointments, as well.
Recording patient data: In a PMS, you can track certain information about your patients, such as demographics. You can generate reports for your staff with these parameters, which is useful for measuring performance in financials, scheduling and more.
Check-in: With a quick check-in process, staff members can spend less time collecting information and more time giving the client a positive experience. A PMS typically offers a fast check-in that provides the staff with the patient's information.
Secure messaging: A PMS will often include a messaging feature that allows patients to communicate securely with their providers, making it easy to get essential information.
The Importance of a Practice Management System for Behavioral and Mental Health Providers
A PMS benefits not just your therapy practice, but also your clients and your staff members.
- Efficient: The most notable benefit of a PMS is probably the efficiency it grants a practice. When a provider spends less time processing paperwork, they have more time to focus on the patient and the betterment of the practice. All the small tasks you or your administrative staff spend all day performing can add up and cost both money and time. A PMS can significantly reduce these.
- Convenient: When patients can view their medical history by visiting a website, or front-desk workers can check in a guest efficiently, everyone benefits. The fast procedures keep patients moving along, reduce wait times and can help providers see more patients. All of this results in improved patient experience.
- Accountable: By storing patient data electronically in one program, a PMS can help providers record all actions taken with patients. Detailed billing information, insurance claim forms and reports can be beneficial to a practice if they encounter any issues or want to measure key performance indicators.
3 Disadvantages of Practice Management Software
While the benefits of practice management software are numerous, there are a few details you'll need to be aware of. If you understand these disadvantages, a PMS can still be a valuable asset.
Teaching your staff how to use a new piece of software can often be a challenge, and while a PMS is often intuitive to use, some software will require training. Thankfully, most are user-friendly, and some, like ICANotes, have logical workflows as a fundamental part of their design.
Practice management software does come with a price tag. If you already use third-party software for specific tasks like scheduling or payment processing, a PMS could be a viable replacement, saving money in the long run with more features. You'll also have to consider the value of added security. The safety and HIPAA compliance of a secure PMS is a necessary component of any practice that you cannot skimp on.
3. Data Migration
If you have years and years of existing data in file cabinets across your office, migrating to an online solution may be easier in theory than it is in practice. However, once you have completed the process, you have a much more flexible and scalable system that can grow with new patients and keep their data secure.
What Is the Difference Between an EHR and a Practice Management Software?
While electronic health records (EHR) and PMS often overlap, they refer to different programs. The most significant difference is in their intent, with one addressing administrative tasks and the other addressing clinical treatment. Often, you can find a PMS and EHR bundled in a more integrated system, due to their need to communicate effectively with one another. Using both can substantially streamline the workflow from administration to treatment process.
An EHR is a program that compiles a patient's medical record from several sources. It is practitioner-facing and helps providers offer accurate, patient-centered care by allowing them to access necessary client data. EHRs raise the standard of healthcare procedures and make treatment go more smoothly. Using EHRs, you can track vitals, measurements, lab results and other data to stay in a patient's expansive digital chart. EHRs can also transfer or send data to other practices. With such essential functions to a healthcare practice, it's no surprise 80% of office-based physicians had adopted a certified EHR as of 2017, a significant leap from the 42% in 2008.
A PMS can address administrative tasks, the day-to-day minutiae of running a practice. These tasks can consist of scheduling, billing and processing insurance claims. A PMS can include patient-facing portals with messages and billing or medical histories. These programs can reside on one desktop computer, on web-based software where the server is off-site or on client/server software where the server is on the premises.
For small practices, especially, a PMS can help enormously. If you don't have a large staff to handle the little things, they can take a significant portion of your time away from patient care. The PMS can be valuable, but an EHR also provides you with helpful treatment resources, like assessments and digital charting, so you can take detailed notes.
Are Both PMS and EHR Necessary in Mental and Behavioral Healthcare?
The answer to this question depends on your therapy practice. In most cases, yes, because they perform different and vital functions with various benefits. Your PMS can help you cut down on time spent on administrative tasks, while an EHR can help you meet meaningful use standards and improve the patient care process. Both are also beneficial to a practice trying to go paperless or become more efficient.
The choice to select a total practice management system that includes PMS and EHR all boils down to what your practice needs. By reviewing your workflow and identifying the issues you need to address, you can determine if you need both. If paperwork, excessive scheduling times and insurance claim problems are bogging you down, a PMS can help eliminate them. An EHR would focus on more of the treatment process, so if you want to make meaningful-use changes or have a smoother experience for the patient, you may want to think about the EHR route. If you need both, as many providers do, you can purchase an integrated system that makes your EHR and PMS work together for a streamlined workflow and efficient patient care. Even if you already have one or the other, it may be worth considering a bundled approach for a faster process.
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