When I realized that I wanted to go back to school, I stopped to think about what I would need to do. It had been years since I cracked open a textbook, much less learned something new on a computer. However, I wanted to succeed, so I started to learn more about technology. I spent hours brushing up on my computer troubleshooting skills and when I was done, I felt a little more prepared. After I started school, I learned even more. I made this blog to teach other people a little about technology, so that you can keep up with your peers.
If you've recently been handed the responsibility of finding the best practice management software for your medical office, you may not know where to start. There are many options available, and the choice you make will depend on a number of factors that require an understanding of how they work and the ways they will benefit you. Being armed with this knowledge is key to choosing the right software for your business.
Kinds of software available
Medical practice management software is a vital part of any office nowadays, as it performs many tasks that can save you time and energy. Its primary purpose is to capture patient information, allow you to schedule appointments, submit insurance claims, and handle billing. There are three main types of practice management software, and they include desktop-only, client-server, and web-based systems. Which one you choose will largely depend on office size, budget availability, and the ease with which it can be integrated into your office environment.
This kind of practice management software installs directly onto your computer and is best for the small or mid-size practice with only one computer. All information is stored in-house. This system may be preferable for offices that are on a limited budget and don't want to be saddled with monthly access and storage fees, but there are disadvantages to using it over the other two. First, the computer it's installed on will need to have plenty of free memory for storing patient information. Second, this type of software is more likely to suffer information loss should your computer crash or experience any other type of damage. You'll need to be diligent in performing daily back-ups and keeping the backups in a safe location where they can't be accessed by unauthorized personnel.
Client-server Based Software
This type of software also stores all health records in-house in much the same way that desktop-only software does. However, with client-server software, you'll need to have the server as well as all the needed hardware and software installed in your practice. Client-server based systems can be incredibly expensive, costing as much as $40,000 to start and accumulating additional investments over time for patches, license fees, updates, and maintenance.
One advantage to using a client-server based system is that retrieving patient information could be fast since the server is located in the building. This can be incredibly beneficial should you have Internet connectivity issues. Data loss is still an issue should your server hardware get corrupted or your computer crashes or get damaged in a fire or flood. Users will also need to be sure to back up all information on a regular basis and carefully store in a safe location.
More and more medical practices are switching to web-based software for various reasons. With this system, everything is handled through an Internet connection from setup all the way to storage. There is no need to bring in the IT experts to install servers or hardware and make sure your computer is configured properly. Updates can additionally be arranged to run automatically, saving you the hassle of having to do that manually or pay extra to call in a professional. The cost of a web-based system is generally much cheaper than client-server software, as many don't have an initial investment - just the monthly fees that are generally considered comparable to a utility bill.
Another advantage to web-based software is that patient information can be accessed from anywhere you have an Internet connection. This can come in handy if a doctor needs to access medical records from home after being paged for an emergency.
A big concern for many medical personnel regarding web-based practice management software is security, particularly the possibility of private patient information being hacked. The truth is, web-based software is considered more secure than the other options because most web-based systems utilize encryption techniques that render all data unreadable if the security is ever compromised. With web-based software, patient and clinic information is not only secure, but it's all stored in the cloud, so there's no need for daily backups and storing data on physical devices.
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