Recently I have talked to a number of doctors about the types of software that they are using in their offices and it has become apparent to me that many of them have taken a piecemeal approach to creating a paperless office. They are using one program for billing, another for scheduling and yet another for doctors notes. Often these programs were purchased at different times and different stages of practice growth or as the need presented itself and not with a specific plan in mind. Sadly, these offices can be missing out on many of the benefits that an integrated practice management system can provide, as well as incurring hidden expenses that may not have been envisioned.
Some of the issues that are most commonly
experienced by these offices are:
Repeated data entry—Inputting each client’s information in multiple programs may seem trivial for an office that is seeing a lower volume but can become quite time consuming and expensive as a practice gets increasingly busier. Since payroll and staff hours are an important aspect of managing any business, this function can’t be overlooked as an avoidable expense.
Costly upkeep of multiple licenses and fees—Each software license comes with tech support and up-date fees. When you are maintaining your agreements with 2-3 companies, these fees can add up when purchased individually rather than together.
Prolonged training—Doctor and staff have to acclimate themselves to a number of different screens as well as command buttons. This only adds to the increased amount of time needed when training new staff and associate doctors.
Poor integration of programs—As technology changes, some companies are moving faster than others in keeping up with the times. If one software company decides to move to a format that is not compatible with the others, you may have problems with how they interface.
Difficulty running reports and statistics—Information from different departments cannot be quickly exchanged from one system to another so that aspects of the practice can be managed. Information about missed appointments, outstanding balances, updated records all has to be transferred manually and can delay responsiveness to problems in an office.
Slow interoffice communication—Each staff member would have to keep tabs on multiple programs to be aware of changes that were occurring in real time within the practice. For example, the staff being informed that the doctor would like to do a re-exam on the next visit or that patient should be thanked for a referral that was given to the office.
While these programs may have served you as you were growing and reshaping your practice, there will be a point where the expenses out weigh the benefits. At that point, it would be wise to begin the process of researching systems that perform all as one network. These are often easier to use and are more efficient and reliable in managing your database and collections.
Dr. Michael Failla is the President and Co-owner of Integrated Practice Solutions, the makers of ChiroTouch. Dr. Failla graduated from Life University College of Chiropractic in Atlanta, GA, and went on to run a highly successful chiropractic office in Seattle, WA, for 25 years. Dr. Failla sold his practice in 2007 and continues to promote health and wellness by helping chiropractors run streamlined and successful practices with more time for their patients and less time with their paperwork