In most healthcare industry-related businesses today there is a key piece of software that everyone uses to coordinate and run the business, track clients, get paid, track employees and pay them.
Medical, dental, optometry, adult daycare and hospice all have software written for the medical related office available on the market that take the specific medical area needs into account.
These packages, which are databases at their core, are HIPAA compliant, track patient scheduling, track personnel scheduling and times, make insurance claims while either doing the accounting or exporting information into your accounting software.
Things can go really wrong if you buy the wrong package for your healthcare practice.
Does it work for YOU?
Before buying a new package or continuing with an old one, make sure that you know the aspects of the work flow from the time you take an initial call to when you close a patient file. What exactly does each person do and how would the package help you do that. Get very granular. The receptionist takes the call for a new patient and enters the name into a new patient record.
Then what? Are we asking for records from another healthcare provider? Do we schedule an initial visit? How do we take their insurance or other forms of payment? How do we schedule on going appointments? Who is allowed to see the medical files? Can the program display them?
Keep asking these questions up to the time that the patient is no longer a patient and the information goes into your inactive archives.
If you have a complete list of things you need to see happen, you stand a better chance of finding software that is a good fit. Sales people will be full of talk about their healthcare software’s many features. OK, but get specific because most of those features are not for most of the clients.
We saw a cerebral palsy facility with a great home made database that did everything except take daily attendance of the participants.
In the case of cerebral palsy daycare, knowing who was on site at every time of the day and when they were received and when they were discharged, every day, was key to running that facility and being in legal compliance. They had good patient records, great insurance claims, but what they also needed was a module that kept track of participants more akin to a school attendance roster.
Does it work well?
This is both an objective and subjective question. Healthcare software may have a great reliability rating but still not work well for your needs.
We had a hospice client who sent staff to assist patients at the end of their lives. The software allowed the workers to track their time on their cell phones or with a remote laptop. That would have been fine, but the area they served was a mix of urban and suburban towns with a lot of hills.
Service was often not available and the software did not take that into account. It was not possible for a staff member to log their time after the fact or log it as their visit took place and sync up when they returned to a service area. A good half of the transactions needed exceptional approval turning a computerized task into something that had to be done manually much of the time.
Is it well made?
This is a hard question to get an answer to because the part that would be poorly written would not be where you could see it. Here you will need the help of your computer network support, a company akin to our own.
The first thing an IT support company would look to is on line discussions of other technicians supporting the same healthcare software.
A quick web search looking for problems with updates, backups, installations and support quality can be very revealing even if a lot of the language requires some training to understand it.
Of all of those, the quality of the software vendor’s tech support is the biggest deal breaker. If your local computer support can not get straight answers and prompt attention you may want to consider a different piece of software.
We see big technical problems all the time with practice ware and business ware in general. Recently we were working with a dental practice software that has a great and intuitive interface, hold records and x-ray’s and does a great job on billing.
On the back end it uses an SQL database that is set up ignoring the basics of Microsoft Networking. The backup is precarious and the server setup requires manual starts. All one has to do to knock this system out of service is run an update.
Other examples include lack of a suggested backup procedure, lack of stability after applying the sofware’s own updates and poor installation habits from the support staff.
To repeat, our suggestion when shopping for healthcare business software is to ask three basic questions:
- Does it work for YOU?
- Does it work well?
- Is it well made?
When the problems that these three questions try to avoid rear their head, the results can be disasterous and very expensive.
If you address these three questions you will end up with healthcare software that really helps your healthcare practice run smoothly day to day and is a total asset to your business.