As more and more medical practices transition to electronic medical records systems, it's important to remember that not all platforms are created equal.
Having a top-notch electronic records system is the first step toward transforming patient care. But, like an old, faulty TV, antiquated clinical software can wreak havoc on your ability to see the full picture—and to deliver quality patient care. And honestly, in this day and age, simply having an electronic records software is not enough. To survive—and thrive—in the modern healthcare era, your practice needs a complete solution that covers all of your clinical, financial, and logistical bases.
So, if you’re experiencing some static with your practice’s current software framework, it’s high time you look elsewhere. After all, as documentation, scheduling, and billing software become more popular, more customizable, and more user-friendly, healthcare practitioners will see even more benefits of using these solutions—without having to implement tedious workarounds. Here are some must-have features every practice should consider when in the market for a new practice management solution.
Convenient Scheduling Functionality
Integrating intuitive scheduling features and patient records into your practice’s software system allows you to work more efficiently and build stronger patient relationships. Furthermore, built-in, color-coded scheduling makes it easier to see your patient list (daily, weekly, monthly, etc.) so you can maximize your scheduling capacity. Some systems also allow you to set up text, email, or phone reminders, which can reduce cancellations and no-shows by as much as 30%. Additionally, some practice management software solutions allow patients to complete and submit paperwork online prior to their first appointment, making their first visit to your clinic more expedient.
Built-In Outcomes Tracking and Analysis
Outcomes—in life, politics, sports, and countless other ventures—are never certain, as the circumstances surrounding them aren’t always in our control. Sometimes we get a welcomed surprise, while other times we’d like to hide under a rock (just ask Hillary Clinton or the 2007 New England Patriots). But, in the world of health care, collecting objective patient data—a task that is clearly within providers’ control—certainly helps enhance patient care and objectively demonstrate each practitioner's clinical strengths and effectiveness.
And there’s plenty of incentive for providers to always perform at their best. That’s because, as the entire healthcare industry moves toward a pay-for-performance model, the amount of payment providers receive for their services will be directly tied to the quality of care they provide—which means the biggest cashouts will go to those who deliver the:
- best results
- lowest cost of care
- highest levels of patient satisfaction
Leaving your fate in someone else’s hands certainly doesn’t put the odds in your favor. But by collecting objective data during each and every patient encounter, you’re more empowered to prove your value, enhance patient care, and maximize payments.
Effective Data Exchange
If information is the lifeblood of patient care, then intelligent patient records systems are the heart that pumps it. That’s why, as health care becomes increasingly patient-centric, technology must continue pulsating to ensure patient data is properly collected and transferred from:
- provider to provider
- provider to payer
To achieve this goal, systems within the offices of healthcare providers, payers, and other stakeholders must be able to speak the same language and, thus, facilitate the successful exchange of patient data (a.k.a. interoperability) across all health IT platforms. True interoperability occurs when multiple health technology systems are interconnected and able to support seamless data exchange. And for such data exchanges to occur in a timely, efficient manner, those systems must be web-based (unlike the unreliable server-based gargantuans of the past).
These systems also must be equipped to compute and recognize complicated ICD-10 diagnosis code sets, as this impacts providers’ ability to code accurately and receive proper reimbursement. Furthermore, accurate ICD-10 coding is imperative to the worldwide push for better diagnostic data, as it helps “enhance the value of information for population and public health and research,” states this Health IT Analytics article. Ultimately, the transition to ICD-10—and the data that healthcare practitioners will continue to glean from it—will lead to “improved patient care and better health outcomes at a reduced price.”
Failsafe Compliance Measures
Confused about when to apply modifier 59? Uncertain your clinic is fully compliant with HIPAA? How’s your ICD-10 coding game? Healthcare compliance is kind of a big deal—heck, Ron Burgundy might even agree—and staying ahead of these important rules and regulations could help practices avoid claim denials and audits. Fortunately, secure, cloud-based software systems have your back with built-in features that ensure providers follow best practices—and keep patient data safe.
We all learned at a young age that rules are meant to be followed. And in times of increasing regulations and decreasing reimbursements, your practice can’t afford any slip-ups. To that end, a trusted documentation and practice management software can help healthcare practitioners and office staff:
- Decide which CPT codes to use (and how many units to bill for each)
- Ensure their practices meet HIPAA compliance protocols
- Adhere to required quality-data reporting programs (like the newly introduced MACRA and MIPS initiatives)
What’s good for providers often benefits patients, too. But ensuring patients receive quality coordinated care can become problematic without the right tools in place. Bottom line: Don’t settle for an inferior practice management software; instead, adopt a comprehensive, all-encompassing software system that leads to more accurate diagnoses, improved care management, and better overall patient experiences.
Zach Colick is a Content Writer at WebPT, a comprehensive, web-based EMR software solution for physical therapy practices. WebPT's platform facilitates compliant documentation, accurate claims, maximized payments, and more time with patients.