“Most of what we call management consists of making it difficult for people to get their work done.”
Each independent practice manages a daily, high-wire balancing act which goes on between providers and the administrative team. Medical professionals are there to provide the highest levels of medical care to all patients; without them, there would be no practice. Supporting these providers is an administrative team which is responsible for all the bullwork of keeping the practice running – setting appointments, checking insurance, billing patients, and taking charge of Revenue Cycle Management. Without a smoothly-running Practice Management System in place, providers are not able to do their jobs effectively.
Technology is available to make life easier on both sides of the equation. The providers rely on Electronic Health Records (EHRs) to help manage patients, while administrators rely on a Practice Management System to help manage the day-to-day operations. A quality Practice Management System can make performing those daily tasks so much easier but beware of the advice Peter Drucker provides that sometimes “management consists of making it more difficult to get the job done.”
This article focuses on what your private practice can do to find a Practice Management System that makes sense for your needs. In the long run, the right choice will also make dollars and cents, as it helps your practice run more smoothly.
What is a Practice Management System?
In the oldest days of private practice, most administrative details were accomplished through cumbersome manual tasks. Typewriters, telephones, file cabinets, manuals, and stacks of paper could often be found surrounding exhausted-looking staff members as they tried to keep up with the daily burden of running the office efficiently.
Now, many of those onerous tasks can be automated through standardized electronic transactions. The right practice management system, or PMS, plays a key role in realizing the maximum potential efficiencies offered by these latest electronic capabilities. PMS software is typically able to help the private practice:
- Capture patient demographics
- Schedule appointments
- Pre-register patients, including the all-important insurance eligibility and benefit checks
- Determine patient financial responsibility for collections at the point of care
- Maintain insurance payer lists
- Perform billing
- Assist in payment collection efforts
- Generate reports for analysis
What to Look For in a Practice Management System
Selecting and integrating an appropriate, well-supported, and regulation-compliant PMS to meet the needs of your independent practice can be daunting. To help in this process, the American Medical Association (AMA) and the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) developed a step-by-step roadmap for evaluating options and purchasing the most appropriate PMS for your private practice.
While it is important to find a product that fits into your practice’s budget, you must first think about the system features your practice needs to operate with high levels of efficiency. Standard electronic transaction compliance and functionality should also be a priority in the selection process, as these transactions set the foundation for automation and cost-savings.
One – Select Your PMS Assessment Team
The right system for your independent practice will be the one that is best able to meet the needs of providers and team members. That is why it is important to involve key staff members right from the start of the selection process. You want to solicit feedback from those who understand the current bottlenecks and are most likely to utilize the new system on a daily basis. This team may include a physician, the office manager, members of the coding and billing staff, and patient-facing clinical staff members.
Two – Analyze Your Patient Management and Claims Revenue Cycle
To find ways to improve your process, your team will need to create a detailed workflow map of the current process, from appointment scheduling, all the way through to billing and final payment. This will highlight areas where your ideal Practice Management System can best support your team and indicate where it can increase efficiencies in under-performing tasks. Finding ways to reduce administrative hassles decreases headaches and increases revenue.
Three – Identify Key System Functionality and Feature Requirements
Based on your team’s analysis, they can identify the key needs for the projected new System. This list may include current capabilities but may also have “wish list” items that the team would like to learn more about from potential vendors. Rank these features for their importance to your practice. The list might include:
- Administrative Needs
- Billing and Collection Needs
- Insurance Verification Needs
- “Wish List” Capabilities
- Clearinghouse Requirements
- Report Frequency Requirements
- Vendor Credentialing, Background, and Support Requirements
- System Integration and Update Protocols
- Compliance Capabilities
Four – Research and Compare PMS Products
Compile a list of potential vendors who are most likely to be able to meet the requirements identified in the previous step. Review testimonials, network with peers that already use the system, request a consultation, or review educational materials. Match your needs with the vendors’ abilities and find those which make sense for your private practice.
Five – Request a Written Proposal
You will then solicit formal, written proposals from the top vendor matches. Create a Request For Proposal (RFP) that outlines your requirements, timeframes, and budgetary constraints. Include specific information about your independent practice the proposed vendors will need in order to provide the most accurate reply. Specify number of users, locations, available equipment, patient load, insurance companies, and anything else that impacts the way you want to use your new system. Ask for specifics about vendor qualifications and the functionalities of their Practice Management System. They should spell out any needs for additional hardware, software, and digital security. Make sure they are very clear about training and support, and that they clearly detail any and all associated costs.
Six – Review Proposals and Select Your PMS Partner
Your team may need to go back and forth to compare options, clarify points, or negotiate with the various vendors. In the end, your independent practice should be able to select the partner that best meets your individual needs. Carefully weigh your practice needs against anticipated efficiency savings when making cost decisions. In the end, a product that is slightly higher in cost, but with better functionality, might actually be the better choice. Ask for a written contract from the selected vendor that includes all negotiated concessions and verbal agreements.
The selection team can then go on to work with the chosen vendor on the implementation process and anticipated timeframes. The choice will need to be introduced to the entire office staff, with an explanation of the anticipated benefits. Sufficient time will be required for training and practice sessions before complete integration can be expected.
Primary Advantages of a Practice Management System for Your Private Practice
Your private practice has a significant opportunity to improve its efficiency and reduce overall costs by implementing a new Practice Management System. Instead of making it more difficult to get the job done, your practice can leverage many of today’s state-of-the-art technology advancements and administrative simplification functionalities to achieve many advantages, such as:
- Improved Practice Organization
- Overall Boost in Workflow Efficiency
- Increased Ease of Task Performance
- Fewer Documentation Errors
- Improved Patient Satisfaction with Your Practice
- EHR Integration Capabilities
- Streamlined Workflow and Processes that Lead to Provider and Staff Satisfaction
- Ability to Focus Undivided Attention On the Patients
- Better Billing and Payment System
- Enhanced Cash Flow and Bottom Line
Advanced Advantages of Practice Management System Data
You are probably familiar with the old saying that “decisions are only as good as the data used to make them.” Today’s data-rich Practice Management Systems provide a wealth of information that will enable you to get a quick, high level view of your practice finances and identify issues you can resolve. Some enhanced uses for PMS data might be:
Improve Cash Flow
Getting paid fully and promptly for services provided is important to the long-term financial standing of your private practice. Any improvement you can make in cash flow can have a major impact on your ability to survive and thrive. Even small changes in securing money from unpaid claims, reducing claims denials, facilitating patient payments, and improving your collection process can add substantial dollars to your cash flow without additional administrative expenses. Think about what it would mean if your practice could generate just $100 more per day every year – that works out to $25,000 – well worth the cost of the PMS.
But what if your private practice could achieve more than $25,000 per year with your new PMS? What plans could you make for your current team, your growth vision, and your own life if you could count on an additional source of revenue from the work you are already doing? Improvements to your Revenue Cycle Management can provide the additional cash needed to invest in talent retention and recruitment efforts, or to reliably invest in office equipment and expansion plans.
Better Resource Utilization
As humans, we only have so much capability to perform tasks at our highest level every day. With the support of advanced technology, those efforts can be better-directed and more likely to produce consistent results. While it might appear that your private practice is too busy to accommodate additional patients, it might simply be that you are not using your human resources in the most efficient way possible. Less effort spent on administrative tasks frees up more time for patient care, leading to increased patient satisfaction.
If the claims submission and collection practices for your independent practice are sub-par, then you are simply not earning the money you deserve for the services you are providing. The PMS gives your practice management team the ability to view unpaid claims, check claims status, and promptly post insurance payments, so your staff can move to recover outstanding amounts from patients. Your practice should be working towards a net collections ratio of at least 85 to 90 percent.
Make Sense and Cents with CareTracker Practice Management
CareTracker Practice Management from Amazing Charts lets you quickly identify coding inconsistencies prior to claims submission, electronically confirm eligibility and claim status, and easily identify unpaid claims. Additionally, the Dashboard Front Office Command Center acts like a virtual office assistant, monitoring items and notifying you via smart alerts when crucial patient data requires your immediate attention – leaving you more time to concentrate on your patients.
This usable and affordable practice management system will help your independent practice manage patient records, insurance eligibility, documents, and billing. It can also be cost-effectively bundled with the Electronic Health Records (EHR) solution for maximum practice efficiency. Take control of your finances today with features that include:
Easily view unpaid claims to ensure they are worked promptly and resolve issues before they become problems.
Review claims before submission to maximize revenue potential by reducing denials.
A Secure Connect Clearinghouse that provides a high-level of support and responds quickly to payer changes.
Intelligent technology provides interactive, role-based dashboards that automatically prioritize work lists for all areas of your office.
Get a quick, high level view of your practice finances and identify issues you can resolve to avoid reimbursement delays.
Access your support team (via phone, email, or chat), who can utilize remote access to identify and resolve issues quickly.
Automatically check claims status for improvement in reimbursements.
Let patients pay outstanding balances online with Quick Pay.
Posting insurance payments is simplified and streamlined, saving time and effort.
Healthcare Technology Solutions Designed By and For Independent Practices
Amazing Charts was founded in 2001 by a practicing family physician to help medical practices thrive. We have grown consistently since then by creating easy-to-use solutions for delivering patient care. Today, we offer a variety of additional capabilities designed to help independent practices succeed, including Electronic Health Records, Practice Management, Billing Services, Population Health and Remote Care. Call 866-382-5932 to learn about our products, schedule a practice consultation, and learn more about telehealth pandemic lessons that can help your independent practice grow.