Technology. It’s not going away anytime soon and will continue to evolve for years to come. When it comes to healthcare and technology, those are two industries that are ever-changing. Implementing advanced technology in your practice is not only important when it comes to the newest devices and procedures, but the technology you and your staff use should enable you work more efficiently and effectively. One of the pieces to that puzzle for your dermatology practice is practice management software.
Let’s first define what practice management software is and what it is not. Practice management is software that handles the daily operations of a medical practice and captures information from the time a patient is scheduled through visit/service completion. It’s also software that helps you manage your claims and patient receivables as well as patient recalls. The solution should be designed to help improve financial performance by providing you total visibility into your practice’s financials.
Practice management software is not medical scheduling software, medical billing software or electronic medical records (EMR) software. Medical scheduling software and medical billing software are often stand-alone products. The video below shows Modernizing Medicine’s Practice Management software in action at a dermatology practice.
In general, your practice management software should allow you to more efficiently and effectively manage your revenue cycle process with complete visibility into your financial operation. In addition, impacting factors should be able to be quickly identified and addressed. And on the patient side, the solution should help improve patient and office flow from pre-visit to post-visit and provide visibility into where each patient is within the practice at all times. While this not only improves the office workflow and productivity, it can improve a patient’s experience by reducing check-in and checkout times.
Now let’s dive into the other essential features that you should be able to check off the list when assessing a vendor’s practice management system for your dermatology practice.
1. Integration into Your EHR/EMR System. One sign-in for both your EHR and Practice Management systems? It’s definitely something you should look for when evaluating your options. Ideally, you want a vendor that can provide you an all-in-one-solution so you can have everything in one place and avoid costs and difficulties that multiple bridges can pose. For example, EMA™, which is Modernizing Medicine®’s electronic health records (EHR) system, integrates directly with our Practice Management product. Together, they create an all-in one system for scheduling, document management, billing and reporting. This will allow you to more than just simply manage your practice, but rather optimize it and transform the clinical, financial and operational aspects of your practice from one integrated solution.
2. Financial Dashboards and Reporting. Your practice management software should improve your dermatology practice’s bottom line. By being able to view key metrics, you’ll be able to measure the health of your dermatology practice. Reporting tools that analyze rejections and denials will keep you informed of billing challenges while allowing you, as the dermatologist or administrator, to keep a pulse on your practice.
3. Built-in Reporting that is Powerful and Robust. With such reporting capabilities, you should look for the ability to create custom reports that you can bookmark to reference month after month. Being able to customize the reporting you need for your dermatology practice is critical—one size does not fit all, so being able to conform to your needs is key.
4. Straightforward Financials at Check-in and Checkout. With the right dermatology practice management software, your staff will be empowered to speak confidently and accurately to patients about their charges while being able to collect upfront fees (co-pays and balances) more easily.
5. Clearinghouse Services. Interfacing with a clearinghouse is an essential requirement for a practice management system. This should include electronic eligibility, electronic claims submission and Electronic Remittance Advice (ERA). Real-time updates will allow for your practice to proactively work claims and post payments, leading to improved revenue cycle turnaround time. Claims submissions should be automated and occur multiple times throughout the day.
6. Eligibility Verification. Batch eligibility and real-time insurance eligibility checks help increase accuracy and speed up check-in time. Your staff will be able to proactively see any problems with insurance eligibility and which patients require follow-up. Having such a feature will lower claim denials by identifying the active payers in real time, before a service is rendered. Without the eligibility checks built in, most dermatology practices have to go to a third-party website to verify eligibility. Your practice management solution should eliminate that additional step.
7. Claim Scrubbing Prior to Payer Submission. Raise your (virtual) hand if you like the sound of decreasing denials? The clearinghouse scrubs the claims based on payer rules, so before it even goes out to the payer, the clearinghouse can send it back into a practice management system with a prompt that says “this is what you need to modify.” In addition, the ability for your billing staff to create Custom Scrub Rules within the practice management solution will allow for claims to be fixed even before submission to the clearinghouse. By maximizing claim scrub capabilities, you have first-hand tools to shorten the revenue cycle. If claims go out clean on first submission, turnaround time for payment is positively impacted.
8. Merchant Services. What if you no longer had to input credit card information manually or worry about PCI compliance and could eliminate data entry errors? It’s possible. Your practice management system should have such feaitures to benefit your dermatology practice. The system can connect directly to a credit card swiper or Apple Pay and can remember the last credit card used in a PCI-compliant way so the patient doesn’t need to provide the information again. It should allow for emailing receipts and refunding transactions if needed. The system you use should keep an audit log on every transaction that transpires, as to deter from fraud.
9. Appointment Finder: Booking and finding appointments is frustrating and can create a time suck for patients and staff alike. Sound familiar? Utilizing a practice management system will give you the ability to schedule appointments faster and eliminate hunt and peck scheduling. Your staff will be able to reschedule appointments easily. You should even be able to take it a step further and filter by provider, location, appointment type, duration, time preference (e.g. afternoon), time frame (e.g. first available) and specify a room and reason for visit, add appointment notes and patient info and schedule appointments at multiple offices.
Ideally, the appointment finder should let you select the time for the appointment before entering any patient information, instead of entering all the information and then telling the patient they have to wait six months for an appointment, which really helps with new patients.
10. Intramail: This is certainly an added benefit of a practice management system. At checkout, staff can create Intramail, which allows them to message the doctor within the practice management software. This helps the staff communicate in real-time and obtain answers to questions, with the goal of reducing delays in the revenue cycle process.
11. Top-Notch Support. Although this isn’t specific to dermatology practice management software, you want to ensure you select a vendor that offers a support team to guide you through the process from start to finish. Ideally, a practice management support team should be staffed with individuals who have billing experience and can speak and understand the lingo to best support your needs. It’s important to do your research, ask the tough questions and, perhaps, most importantly, ask to speak with current clients using the product to really get a glimpse into what you can expect. Client Bryn Mawr Skin and Cancer Institute shares their experience using Practice Management in the video below.
At the end of the day you have to identify and prioritize what’s important to your dermatology practice and understand how a practice management system will enhance and support your organization. It is an important decision that takes time and valuable resources. Hopefully this information will help you as you evaluate products on the market.