As surprising as it sounds, up to 40% of all private practices currently operate without any software at all.

In a survey on practice management and technology, 81% of practitioners wanted a software program that had scheduling capabilities. Choosing a private practice software program for your clinic is an important decision that can impact patient and employee satisfaction, compliance issues, and, ultimately, the organization’s bottom line.[1]

In the following guide, we’ll cover the different aspects of private practice software solutions, what they can do, and how to navigate the decision-making process. What are the various features you should consider in a private practice software program? We’ll also cover how your staff and patient needs may impact the purchasing decision and more.

Why Use Private Practice Software?

Technology has revolutionized the way people conduct their day-to-day affairs. Not only has technology changed socialization and leisure time, but it has also impacted businesses in profound ways.

The right private practice software can save ample amounts of time, lowering overheads and giving practitioners more time to spend in quality patient interactions.

Mental health software for private practices can make or break an organization’s workflow. The right private practice software can save ample amounts of time, lowering overheads and giving practitioners more time to spend in quality patient interactions.

While automation can make life simpler, the wrong program can confuse staff, alienate patients, and cost your organization money. But these pitfalls are easy to avoid when providers do their research and plan this critical decision.

Ultimately, specially designed e-clinic software is a boon to organizations and used right, can make healthcare more accessible to patients.

What Can Private Practice Software Do?

While there are numerous private practice scheduling tools on the market today, providers can also take advantage of more robust systems that are capable of managing every aspect of the organization, from marketing to claims and client management.

That means it’s increasingly easy to find software programs that offer ‘the complete package’ – with everything from detailed scheduling features, EHRs, business analytics, billing and coding, and more.

But if you’re starting from zero, it helps to know a few things:

  • If you are new to using software for your private practice, starting with a simple standalone solution might be the way to go.
  • Second, the right software for your company will depend on the features you require, so take a needs-based approach to find the right practice management software for your organization. Doing so can be critical for success.

Features and Functions to Look Out For

One of the first steps you’ll take when it comes to choosing the right software solution for your practice is learning the different features and capabilities of the most popular programs.

Understanding what role you need a software program to play for your practice or e-clinic is crucial to getting this decision right.

The table below may be useful.

 

Functions

Details

Efficiency and Automation Capabilities

  • Private practice software can make repetitive administrative tasks streamlined, automated, and fast by automating many crucial repetitive tasks, allowing for more important time spent with patients
  • e.g. Patient portal capabilities can save time when patients can request or schedule appointments, or fill therapy intake forms online.
  • Systems that are designed for your particular area of practice and that match up with your workflow are best for streamlining tasks.

Coordination Capabilities

  • Robust practice management solutions often coordinate across many vital logistical and financial areas of private practice, facilitating more organized include scheduling, client billing, and financial analytics
  • These capabilities can boost efficiency, too by removing room for human error and miscommunication.

Billing, Coding, and Financial Analytics

  • Private practice solutions can improve how billing is handled,  reduce claim submission delays and ensuring prompt provider payments.
  • Can save staff time with automated codes and autofilling, while reducing errors and making it more likely that claims are accepted on their first submission.
  • Can make it easier for staff to respond to claims rejections.
  • Often, these features have financial reporting capabilities that allow for financial health and wellness analyses.
  • However, providers should be aware that if they intend to bill through a private practice management program, they will need to hire a certified medical coder to be compliant with ICD-10 changes.[2]

Patient Communication Capabilities

  • Facilitating streamlined, fast, accurate communication between patients, providers, and staff.
  • Many systems offer providers tools for generating and sending balance statements to patients, which lets patients see if they have to pay out-of-pocket and how much services cost.
  • For patients, communication features often eliminate the risk of unpleasant billing surprises.
  • For providers, these capabilities make it easier to collect payment when care is rendered, and to get more organized about client management.
EHR Software Integration
  • EHR-compatibility ensures easier patient transitions and integrations with electronic data transfer.
  • Many of the most popular and helpful private practice systems offer EHR and EMR solutions that are built right into the system.

Specialty-specific Add-ons

  • Many solutions are both customizable, and scalable to cater to the specific needs of your private practice.
  • Not only does this mean the ability to personally brand your digital presence and communications, but also that your chosen provider may offer relevant tools for your niche. Examples include physical therapy software if your practice involves rehabilitation or DSM coding capabilities for mental health professionals.

Many software solutions also offer text and chat capabilities through the cloud, giving the practice a way to care for and engage patients further.

With the right communication features, such as video conferencing or instant messaging, patients are more likely to have a better, more involved role in their healthcare system.

Choosing Your Private Practice Solution

Rarely do practitioners need to interact with a private practice software system directly. In general, practice management systems are a crucial part of the way staff will run the organization and how patients will interact with the practice.

A private practice software program can also play a major role in supporting revenue and engaging patients. Also, the system can help the practice become more efficient. But if the wrong solution is chosen, it will hurt a team’s ability to complete critical day-to-day tasks.

The rest of this article will look at the following essential private practice software functions, and how they can be used to your advantage.

How To Choose: A Quick Look

When you’re selecting a private practice program and vendor, features are one thing.

But don’t forget to look at:

  • Cost
  • User-friendliness
  • Specialty-specific Software
  • User Interface
  • Reporting and Data Capabilities
  • Training Features, and
  • Vendor Support.

Cost

For many providers, cost will be the ultimate deciding factor in which vendor and system they finally choose for their practice.

The costs of a software solution will vary, depending on many different factors, such as your organization’s

  • Needs
  • Desired features, and
  • Size.

While some vendors offer standalone systems, it’s possible to find a software solution that lets you pick and choose and add on different features as your needs evolve.

Getting Quotes

When speaking to a vendor for the first time, vendors can only give a rough estimate of what the solution will ultimately cost. Hidden features and additional costs can quickly inflate the base price.

For providers new to software management solutions, it’s best to reach out to a vendor only after you’ve decided what exact features you need. This will keep the costs manageable and prevent you from paying for unnecessary add-on services.

Starting with a standalone system, like scheduling features, for example, maybe a good way to stay within budget while still getting some of the benefits of streamlined and convenient software.

User-Friendliness

Deploying a new system and training staff to use it is hard enough even with user-friendly solutions and a tech-savvy team. Before you sign up with a vendor, make sure your team can easily navigate the trial software interface – some solutions are more technical than others!

Everyone on your team will work differently and will have different experience levels with automation and software programs. Before sitting down with a vendor, talk to the staff. Find out what they need in a program, and are comfortable using.

The User-Friendly Difference

If a system is easy to navigate:

  • It’ll be easier and faster for your staff to learn
  • Patients will appreciate a simple, intuitive interface
  • An intuitive patient interface can help retain patients
  • The less time your staff spends learning the system, the quicker the system will pay off
  • An easy-to-use system will reduce errors and protect the company’s bottom line

Some systems, for example, use a drop-down or drag-and-drop interface, some have pop-up menus, while others will have a central dashboard organizing the software’s features and capabilities. Consider what type will most efficiently streamline your current workflows.

Implementing a new system will almost always slow down your staff productivity at first. However, it should not wholly upend and frustrate your entire organization.

Specialty-Specific Software

When it comes to integration with existing workflows, it’s best to look for a solution frequently used within your specialty.

These systems are:

  • Built with note templates, e.g. for BIRP or SOAP notes
  • Equipped with specialty-specific billing and coding features, and
  • Designed to ensure your system remains compliant with different regulatory requirements, while making it easier for your staff to implement different automated workflows.

To ensure you get the functions you need, choose a vendor that specializes in building software solutions for your area of practice, whether it’s telepsychiatry, business coaching, speech therapy, or another sector.

One decision-making shortcut here is to ask other practitioners in your field what software solutions they’re using for their organization.

User Interface

How well does the system integrate with an EHR or EMR system that your organization is already using?

The answer to this question is critical. The ability of a system to interface with your current EMR and EHR systems means that both systems will accurately and efficiently communicate and share data. Disparate systems will make it harder for your staff to share, review, and transmit information.

If the systems don’t talk, then the team will have to enter and re-enter the same information several times, which is not only frustrating, but it’s also a time-killer and increases the chances of error.

Generating Reports and Data

Private practice organizations need to not only serve their patients and provide excellent care, they also have to manage a business effectively. Many practitioners do not enjoy the business side of things and prefer to spend their time in patient-facing tasks.

But knowing where the organization stands financially is crucial to its success.

Financial Insights

Some private practice solutions offer organizations a way to generate detailed financial reports and analytics. This lets you see where the practice stands within the current revenue cycle, and reports will help you predict cash flow and understand where you can improve it.

Analytics reports can show you things like where most of your patients come from, or which practitioners in your organization are the most productive.

Training Features

You may have done your homework and signed up with the most user-friendly private practice solution on the market. But no matter what, it will take your staff – and your patients – some time to learn how it all works.

For staff and organizations new to software solutions, try to look for a vendor that offers a guided system from a company representative. This can help get your staff through the inevitable learning curve.

Well-trained staff can also assist patients with the new program, which is one reason why the most committed vendors provide both onsite and offsite training sessions.

With the right solution, you can save staff admin time and hassle, reduce human errors and billing mistakes, and even improve patient engagement.

Vendor Support

As learning curves and worries about staff adoption often prevent healthcare practices from integrating otherwise useful software, a few more words on vendor support.[3]

New private practice software systems can completely change the way your practice operates and serves its patients. For organizations new to private practice software, finding a vendor that is supportive and acts as a partner to the organization is essential.

Vendors should be readily available to fix any problems with the system that may arise, but many vendors only provide a general customer support line. The best vendors are responsive and accountable, and offer a direct line to a company representative who is highly familiar with your practice’s system.

It goes without saying, but 24-hour support can go a long way in making sure you get the most out of your care management solution.[4]

Final Thoughts

Private practice software solutions can benefit organizations in a multitude of ways. With the right solution, you can save staff admin time and hassle, reduce human errors and billing mistakes, and even improve patient engagement.

For all professionals, choosing a software system that’s right for your private practice is an important decision that can either make or break your private practice. Keep these considerations in mind during the decision-making process.

Has your private practice implemented a new software system for your organization? What steps did you take to find the right vendor? Please feel free to join the discussion below.

References

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