Medical practice management software has gone through several changes over the years. It still helps your medical office organize medical records, but applications may perform other functions – automation, ePrescribing, billing, scheduling and task management – all in one program.
We've evaluated numerous medical practice management software options over the years, and what's changed the most is how software packages are bundled and delivered, and that all the programs have improved by adding new features.
We spoke to experts in the field who have shaped what medical practice management (PM) software is today to find out what features they would insist on having in medical PM software. After hours of evaluation and research, we determined that bundled solutions are definitely better, but, depending on your practice (and other factors), it may not be what you need.
In this buying guide, we'll help you find the best medical practice management software for your office.
The Most User-Friendly Medical Practice Management Software
The best overall medical practice management program offers an all-inclusive package where you can handle billing, scheduling, insurance eligibility, track claims and create customizable note templates. Most importantly, though, it should be easy to use for the entire office. To reduce your office workers' workload, the software should include a patient portal where patients can schedule appointments online.
It's also important to have solid integrations, including labs, credit card processing and ePrescribing. The billing software needs to easily integrate with electronic medical records (EMR) software, so you don't have to seek an outside third-party service for help integrating the two applications.
The Best Medical Practice Management Software for Customization
The point of using software for scheduling, billing and other practice-management tasks is to streamline your work – not create more for you or your staff. You also don't want to be stuck paying for more services to make the software easier to use. The best medical practice management programs available for small practices let you customize your workflow and more to make it fit the way you and your staff work.
Most medical practice management (PM) software is generic in how it operates and looks so it is compatible with almost any clinic or medical office. Allscripts is one of those medical PM software solutions that can be used as is. It will work well for any practice, or you can customize the templates and screen preferences.
The Best Software That Simplifies Data Migration
When you're transitioning from one system to another, it can be a data-migration nightmare. However, some software companies are more than willing than others to make the move easier for you. Plus, you may need to import or export the data for other software, so you need a flexible medical PM program that allows you to do it with ease.
The software company should offer you the ability to move data in and out of its system as easily as possible with integrations, if it doesn't do it for you. However, if you engage the services of a data-migration company separately, it may cost you more. The best ones let you keep your data and won't hold it hostage if you change software.
When you switch from one medical practice management (PM) program to another, or medical records software (also known as EHR or EMR), you have to have a plan for migrating your data. CareCloud is one of the cloud-based medical software companies that offers help and support from the moment you sign on, through data migration and beyond.
The Best Software for Eliminating Paper Prescriptions
Medical PM software companies understand the need to digitize everything, and one particular process worth digitizing is ePrescribing. It seems extraneous but is actually vital for many practices.
The days of paper prescriptions are practically gone and dead, so ePrescribing features are a must for many medical offices – plus, patients and pharmacists can read the physician's instructions more easily.
Kareo offers a one-stop solution for medical offices in need of medical billing software, medical record software (EHR/EMR) and even marketing options. In addition to the standard medical-billing features to help your staff with scheduling and patient service, Kareo helps you go totally paperless. An important added feature to many medical practice management programs with EHR or EMR is ePrescribing. This feature lets the physician quickly prescribe medications to a patient by simply pressing a button in the software and filling out the necessary fields.
The Best Medical Practice Management Software for Submitting Claims
Every PM software with medical billing features worth its salt offers a claim scrubber. Claims include a wealth of information on patients, insurers, providers, physicians, services performed and more.
A claim scrubber lets you compare your claim against the known information, and it points out any errors so the claim isn't rejected when you submit it. Choosing a software company that averages a high first-pass resolution rate is important because it saves your office time, money and hassle.
Medical practices rely on software to help them with codes, scheduling, and above all, claims submittal. What good is submitting a claim, though, if it's full of errors? That's where claim scrubbers come into play. NueMD, a medical practice management (PM) program, claims a 99% first-pass resolution rate, on average. That's a huge percentage compared to other top-rated medical PM software that only guarantees a resolution rate of 94% or 95%.
The Best Software for Implementing ICD-10 Quickly
Medical offices of all kinds have to adhere to strict rules, regulations and certifications. They must work with other offices, hospitals, clinics and pharmacies, and use a common language when making recommendations, suggestions, prescriptions, etc.
The World Health Organization updates the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) every two years, so it's necessary that your software is up to date with recent ICD changes to standard diagnostic codes.
It's important that the medical practice management software you're using is ICD-10 compliant and that it implements other changes quickly and seamlessly. You'll have more confidence in the medical practice management software in preparation for the coming ICD-11 implementation in 2018 as well as any other changes.
Medical practice staff around the world quietly panic whenever the World Health Organization updates its International Classification of Diseases, better known as ICD. When the new iteration of the ICD is released, medical practices need those codes updated as soon as possible in the software they use daily. The medical practice management (PM) software by athenahealth was quickly up and running when ICD-10 rolled out, and so were their clients.
Just Missed the Cut: Software Still Worth Considering
We evaluated several medical PM software applications. Though not every program made the list, many are worth mentioning.
GMed, for example, offers solutions in billing, practice management and electronic health and medical records specifically for gastroenterology offices. Larger offices that require heftier software solutions may want to consider GE Centricity. Although it's made for practices of any size, we found GE Centricity better suited for a larger practice that has a dedicated IT staff that can help with set up. GroupOne Health Source is an excellent option for practices wanting a software suite that focuses on electronic health records (EHR), revenue cycle management and transcription services.
What to Expect From Medical Practice Management Software
Whether you're a physician, an administrator of a practice or a medical biller, you already know how much you rely on electronic health and medical record software, billing software, scheduling and task-management software. A high-quality medical PM program can help you stay on top of appointments, schedules, payment plans, copays, insurance claims and more. And as technology improves overall, so does medical PM software.
Each of the applications in our buying guide offer a cloud solution, which eliminates the need to buy licensed software. You simply pay a monthly fee and get access to the software as a service (SaaS) anywhere, as long as you have a login and an internet connection.
If you're running a practice with one doctor, 25 doctors or 100 doctors, medical office software is a must. This software increases your practice's efficiency when interacting with patients, other medical providers and insurance companies. Further, your staff saves on resources, and you can better care for your patients.
Medical practice management software handles many general, financial and administrative tasks in your practice. The best software has customizable and powerful scheduling abilities.
When considering specific software to integrate into your office, look for programs that can fully handle both front-office and back-office responsibilities as well as provide great security and support resources. Here's more about the features you'll want to look for.
There are six particular administrative features you'll want to pay attention to when seeking out medical PM software:
Automated appointment reminders. Most medical practice management software has automated appointment reminders so your staff doesn't have to use their time contacting and reminding patients. These reminders can be sent as emails or phone calls, which is an added convenience for patients.
Insurance eligibility. The PM software should have the ability to check patients' insurance eligibility. The best software lets you do this in real time when your patients arrive or even before appointments.
A patient portal. This online portal, or gateway, lets patients log into the software so they can edit their own information, see their balance and, in the best medical PM systems, make payments online. This reduces your workload, because a patient can preregister, modify their address or credit card information and all without having to call the office or do it in person. This can decrease wait times so patients spend more time with the physician.
Insurance verification. Insurance verification is necessary, and it's even better if you can handle it before a patient comes in for an appointment. You're able to quickly verify eligibility and determine the patient's copay and collect payment at the time of service.
Easy check-in and checkout. Almost every medical PM system we looked had this feature, which allows you to confirm whether a patient attended the appointment and paid a copay.
Document scanning. The ability of the software to scan and store documents within the system frees your office from unnecessary paperwork, and it makes it easier to locate necessary documents.
A good practice management system helps with both your practice's administrative and financial requirements. Good PM software makes collecting payments and filing insurance claims as easy as possible for your staff while using the least amount of resources.
Further, software should have the ability to scrub claims for errors so you don't waste resources managing claims denied for simple reasons.
Coding & Medical Record Integration
Most companies offering PM software have an electronic medical record (EMR/EHR) counterpart that integrates directly with the PM system. Some companies only sell both software options as a complete suite while others let you choose what you need.
If you already have an EMR system for your office and you don't want to switch, look for companies that partner with common EMRs and have the ability to integrate their PM systems with your current EMR system.
While not all PM and EMR systems are compatible, all solutions should follow basic safety and privacy standards. All medical software and hardware need to be compliant with guidelines set by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
Support & Hosting
Because medical PM systems are vital to your day-to-day operations, the software manufacturer should offer support that conforms to your practice's needs. If you work primarily during normal business hours, a company that offers live support during that time works well.
Additionally, you need to consider the type of hosting you need. If you don't want to buy and maintain extra hardware, such as servers, then a company that offers SaaS solutions will host the hardware and software for you.
As powerful as many medical office software applications are, you may still want separate software for medical billing. Medical transcription services are still in demand for many practices. And if you choose a medical practice management program that lets you choose an EHR/EMR program from another company, you can start your search for the best EHR software here. You can read our article on medical practice management software about the benefits of medical office software for your practice.
Contributing Reviewer: Whitney Sanchez