When we think about the healthcare industry, we tend to only discuss the medicine; and for good reason, too. Even our pop culture reflects this idea.
Think of popular doctor shows like ER, or Grey’s Anatomy, and how much they talk about the administrative aspects of running a clinic. Maybe a few scant mentions, but beyond that, we hear little about practice management.
In reality, hospitals, clinics, psychological practices, and pretty much every mental health institution would crumble to the ground without its administrative branch. Tasked with a lot more than saving institutions money, they play a vital role in protecting patients as well.
In this article, we consider how patient and client management software can help protect privacy, improve quality of care, and encourage better health outcomes.
Client Management Software: What Is It?
Client Management Software (or, as it is also called, customer relationship management – CRM) is a client solution that covers a broad set of applications designed to help businesses with all of their needs in relation to their clients.
They can include CRM features such as:
- Customer data functions
- Communication platforms, such as are used in video therapy
- Streamlining contract capabilities
- Customer support systems
- Marketing automation tools and
- Other customer interaction functionalities – such as claims management or Electronic Medical Records (EMR).
Client Solutions in the healthcare sector serve a similar purpose. Here, however, their functionalities are rather different because they are focused on providing a digital patient overview. As a result, they often handle very sensitive information.
Client Solutions in the Healthcare Sector
There are a few more notable differences between the two.
- Healthcare CRMs are built to work specifically in the healthcare sector. Healthcare practitioners should not use generic client software, as these may not have the necessary features a healthcare institution needs for managing patients.
- Healthcare CRM must be HIPAA-compliant because they handle personal medical information of patients. HIPAA-compliance signals increased security and encryption of data.
- Healthcare CRMs streamline processes specific to the medical industry, such as patient scheduling, or billing software.
The Benefits of Healthcare Client Solutions
The most notable mention of a digital client system in the healthcare sector comes with a 1991 report published by the Institute of Medicine called The Computer-Based Patient Record: An Essential Technology for Health Care.
In the report, the authors make a strong case that the future of healthcare, at least when it comes to patient management, is digital.
It will take some time for health institutions to jump on the bandwagon, but these days digital client solutions are increasing in popularity. Already, a wide range of blended care solutions is available for practitioners, such as:
- General practice management software – handling, for instance, staff salaries, invoicing, insurance claims, and other logistical aspects
- Mental health software tools – helping with practical aspects of therapy
- Solutions solely designed for health record-keeping – such as Electronic Health Records (EHR), or
- General client management software – like note-taking systems, coding tools, and document storage solutions.
Let’s consider some of their most crucial practitioner benefits.
The most valuable benefit of this client software is their ability to improve workflows, as many of the processes that used to be done by hand, one by one, can be now done automatically, sometimes even in bulk.
Patient information can be, for instance, instantly updated because many management software allows EHR integration. Additionally, information can be stored and secured, and access can be given only to authorized parties.
Scheduling, rescheduling, billing, and even communication between the institution and the patient is also improved.
Better Quality Patient Care
Large healthcare organizations don’t necessarily deal with the lack of human resources like smaller practices do, but either way, these patient solutions can provide better patient care for both.
For a smaller practice, it means healthcare providers are less burdened with administrative tasks than they used to be. Additionally, any person they hire to take care of these issues can have a much easier time doing the job properly, as these systems are easy to use, and have an intuitive interface. As a result, the training time is reduced.
For both small and large practices, these programs can diminish the risk of administrative mistakes potentially putting the patient at risk. When data has to be introduced manually, something as small as forgetting to write down a medication the patient is mildly allergic to can result in human and legal consequences.
For both small and large practices, client management software can diminish the risk of administrative mistakes potentially putting the patient at risk.
Enhanced Patient Outreach
These patient solutions can also help the practice in their marketing efforts, as well as the dissemination of medical information. Doctors can communicate with patients in-between visits, deliver appointment reminders that reduce no-shows or send out information that may be interesting to a particular patient.
For instance, many of these programs allow you to strategically focus your outreach efforts, segmenting your patients based on certain criteria you choose.
Based on those criteria, practitioners can send patients useful information to increase their engagement. It can be interesting articles on an issue that is relevant to them or messages engaging patients you haven’t seen in a while to get them to re-engage.
Data breaches are an increasing concern in the digital age, and the healthcare sector is one of the most affected industries in this regard, with roughly 18% of all breaches registered between 1st January and 20th June 2019 being in the healthcare industry.
Client applications for the medical sector often offer improved security by encrypting sensitive information.
In other words, the data is unreadable by outside parties, and only readable to those using the program.
Additionally, these programs are also HIPAA-compliant, which is a major reason why healthcare institutions should never resort to regular CRM software for managing patient information. Healthcare CRM or EHR must adhere to federal legislation regarding patient information for legal purposes.
Greater Patient Satisfaction
At least thanks to some features of client software, patient satisfaction can also increase. Healthcare CRM can greatly improve communication between patients and their doctors, reduce waiting times, and allow them to receive important medical information fast.
These are all factors that can lead to a happy patient who will continue to visit the practice.
What Does the Research Say?
Client Solutions in the healthcare system can be diverse in terms of what they can do.
Bearing in mind some of the benefits previously outlined in this article, though, let’s take a closer look at some studies into the topic. According to the research:
- Digital healthcare technologies may help improve patient health outcomes – One small study of 68 participants found that client software lead to a significant weight reduction when information about the patient (the medical info) was combined with tracking data on physical activity
- Patients can be positively encouraged to use e-health systems, but this in part may be explained by the patient’s own attitude on the technology
- Most health care professionals claim their decision to either adopt or reject a client management system has to do with message security. They value an application that can effectively allow them to communicate with patients without compromising their privacy
- In terms of scheduling, patient’s reluctance to use a web-based or app scheduling is linked to previous experience using such technology, and communications preferences
- Though there are still limitations of these software systems, nearly 86% of practitioners and institutions had adopted an EHR or other client system as of 2017.
So, what do these studies tell us?
While the technology behind client software changes every day, we can expect it to improve even further in the following years, the evidence that we have now on the subject seems to strengthen the idea that these applications have an added value to the healthcare industry.
Client Software to Consider
The client software that will end up being incorporated in the practice ultimately needs to have a set of features that can truly help with the administrative tasks of patient management.
Here are 5 top examples of patient software to consider:
|SimplePractice is designed as a solution for most administrative needs of a health practice, including patient management. It’s primarily targeted at smaller organizations in the health and wellness sector, making it perfect for therapists, psychologists, social workers, nutritionists, doctors, and others.|
This application comes with a clean interface that is easy to use and can easily be learned even by new staff members. It’s designed to allow you to go paperless within your practice.
Main features include:
|Good For||Practice Management, Video Conferencing, Scheduling, Claims Management, EHR, EMR|
|Intelligent Medical Solution (IMS) from Meditab is designed to be suitable for healthcare practices of various sizes and specialties, with a particular focus on pediatrics, primary care, and pain management.|
The product allows practices to streamline their workflow with this patient solution that handles pretty much all administrative tasks most essential to health care practices.
Main features include:
|Name||Intelligent Medical Software|
|Price||$199+ monthly per user|
|Good For||e-Prescriptions, Practice Management, Scheduling, Video Conferencing, Marketing, Treatment Software|
|My Client Plus caters to specialists in mental health, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and speech therapy primarily, though the software can successfully be used by other types of health organizations as well.|
The reason it focuses primarily on these sectors is its therapy note templates – it offers over 200 of them, designed by professionals to help specialists take notes much more efficiently, thus saving time and having this data automatically added to the patient’s file.
Other features include:
|Name||My Clients Plus|
|Price||$24.95+ monthly per user|
|Good For||Claims Management, Billing, EHR, EMR, Scheduling, Practice Management|
|Ultra Charts is primarily a practice management system with integrated client solutions. This tool is fit for practices of all sizes and can improve efficiency in terms of administrative processes. Additionally, Ultra Charts can also be somewhat customized based on the particular needs of the practice, as well as integrate other software the practice may use to gather all relevant data of the patient or organization under one singular interface. As such, it’s also a great therapy software solution.|
Main features include:
|Price||$600+ monthly per user|
|Good For||Scheduling, e-Prescribing, Billing, EMR, EHR, S|
|Docta is another practice management software that can help streamline most administrative processes in small to mid-sized practices (large health care institutions may not have the same benefits, however). It is designed for doctors, cardiologists, family practitioners, dermatologists, and other healthcare specialists.|
The software aims to automate most practice tasks such as billing, electronic insurance claims, or the appointment process, thus easing the task load of administrative workers. It also offers client solutions.
Main features include:
|Price||$249 one-off payment|
|Good For||EHR, EMR, Claims Management, Billing, Patient Portal. Practice Management|
The needs of your practice and patients should constitute the primary factor you consider when choosing a digital patient solution. If the whole point is to improve their engagement, prevent mistakes, and have more security around their personal information, then you already have three main criteria on which you should base your decision:
- An easy-to-use system – for you, your administrative personnel, and the client
- A secure solution, and
- Something with a fail-safe in case of accidental security breaches.
Client management software for the healthcare industry certainly comes with a lot of benefits, and we may be moving toward a day where all patient information will exist solely in digital format. But even if we never see this day, it’s still a strategically smart move to embrace these technologies and implement them into practice.
They are efficient, low-cost ways to improve the administrative processes of a practice, provided you opt for the one with the right features for you.
- ^ Dick, R. S., Steen, E. B., & Detmer, D. E. (Eds.). (1997). The computer-based patient record: An essential technology for health care. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.
- ^ WHO. (2016). Administrative Errors. Retrieved from https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/252270/1/9789241511674-eng.pdf?ua=1
- ^ Healthcare IT News. (2019). Statistics reveal healthcare is the sector most affected by personal data breaches. Retrieved from https://www.healthcareitnews.com/news/europe/statistics-reveal-healthcare-sector-most-affected-personal-data-breaches
- ^ Ryu, B., Kim, N., Heo, E., Yoo, S., Lee, K., Hwang, H., ... & Jung, S. Y. (2017). Impact of an electronic health record-integrated personal health record on patient participation in health care: development and randomized controlled trial of MyHealthKeeper. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 19(12), e401.
- ^ Agarwal, R., Anderson, C., Zarate, J., & Ward, C. (2013). If we offer it, will they accept? Factors affecting patient use intentions of personal health records and secure messaging. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 15(2), e43.
- ^ Nass, S. J., Levit, L. A., & Gostin, L. O. (2009). The value and importance of health information privacy. In Institute of Medicine, Beyond the HIPAA Privacy Rule: Enhancing Privacy, Improving Health Through Research. (pp. 75-105). Washington, DC: National Academies Press (US).
- ^ Zhao, P., Yoo, I., Lavoie, J., Lavoie, B. J., & Simoes, E. (2017). Web-based medical appointment systems: a systematic review. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 19(4), e134.
- ^ HealthIT.gov. (2017). Office-based Physician Electronic Health Record Adoption. Retrieved from https://dashboard.healthit.gov/quickstats/pages/physician-ehr-adoption-trends.php