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Medical Practice Software

Consider the practice's specific needs when choosing from the variety of medical practice software on the market.

Medical practice software can be used for scheduling appointments. [©Jupiter Images, 2010]
©Jupiter Images, 2010
Medical practice software can be used for scheduling appointments.

Medical Practice Software

Medical practice software improves efficiency in physician's offices by allowing the office staff to focus more on customer service and patient care, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP). As medical knowledge progresses, so does the need for more efficient management systems. Medical practice software has increasingly become standard in doctor's offices, allowing the office staff to efficiently organize medical records and patient information.

How Medical Practice Software Works

Medical practice software speeds the completion of various office tasks, such as processing insurance claims, completing medical billing and scheduling appointments. Medical practice software is also used to write prescriptions, maintain patient medical records and manage diseases. Use of the software also results in better patient diagnosis by allowing doctors to make faster treatment decisions.

For example, to enhance office efficiency in scheduling, the medical practice software highlights the first available appointment, categorizes appointments by the physician and displays multiple schedules on one screen. Medical practice software is also available through hand-held computing devices.

Medical practice software for billing reduces a number of errors and can be integrated with various types of medical practice software, such as medical record software. It also results in faster payment from insurers, since electronic claims are processed more quickly than paper claims.

Prevalence of Medical Practice Software

The medical practice software market contains various management systems, making it difficult for physicians to choose the one that best suits their needs. According to the Southern Medical Association (SMA), hundreds of companies offer medical practice software. The SMA suggests that physicians make a list of the specific needs of their practices to help them select the best medical practice software.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that medical practice software has become so prevalent that 80 percent of Medicare claims are now processed electronically. The use of computers to manage medical information is growing rapidly and can often be integrated with other medical equipment, such as X-ray machines.

Types of Medical Practice Software

Medical practice software can be broken down into two broad categories: electronic records management (EMR) and medical practice management (MPM) software. MPM software allows physicians to better control the overall operations of their practices. Physicians can use EMR to create digital records and share these records with other physicians. Allbusiness.com explains that physicians often use this type of software to perform routine tasks such as scheduling patients, managing collections, processing insurance claims and billing. Though these two types of software are sometimes integrated, integration has become a challenge in the medical community. Physicians can also purchase software for medical specialties, such as pediatric or chiropractic medical practice software.

Hosted Medical Practice Software

Medical practice software may be purchased by a physician and installed on the company's server. Obtaining software in this manner is expensive, however. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, medical practice software can cost up to $50,000 to install software on office servers. In addition, medical practice software installation can come with additional costs, such as annual maintenance fees, and the need to hire an information technology specialist to keep it running smoothly.

Hosted medical practice software is a less expensive alternative. This type of software runs on the vendor's servers, and medical offices use the Internet to connect to it. All files are stored on the vendor's servers and secure passwords are used to access them. A medical office pays a monthly fee depending on how often it uses the software. Physicians might use hosted medical practice software to determine whether a patient procedure is covered by insurance, for example.

One advantage of hosted medical practice software is that it can be easily updated. Disadvantages include the unreliability of Internet connections and the risk of privacy intrusion. However, some software comes with offline versions that can be used as a backup in the event of Internet-related problems.

Medical Practice Software Concerns

There are many medical practice software vendors on the Internet. It is essential that physicians research the software that most accurately fits their tailored business needs. Possible concerns about a medical practice software system include:

  • How the product is licensed
  • Technical support costs
  • Importation of text
  • Support of printers and image formatting

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