A wise man named Forrest once said, “Life is like a box of chocolates: you never know what you’re gonna get.” While it may be fine to take that approach to your own life, you want to know exactly what you’re getting when you buy medical software — it’s responsible for other people’s lives! Understanding the difference between medical billing software and medical practice management software is a crucial place to start.
Each healthcare practice has its own needs and goals. Some healthcare providers want to improve the efficiency of patient registration while others need to streamline the process of sending claims to insurance companies. In addition, there are many healthcare providers that want to use the latest technology to alert patients of upcoming appointments and bill them in a more timely way. Others may need some combination of these upgrades, or may even want all of them!
Medical offices and health care providers interested in making changes have a few options of medical software to choose from: EMR/EHR (electronic medical/health records), patient scheduling software, medical billing software, and medical practice management/patient management software.
One area that gets especially confusing is medical billing vs practice management software. These two types of software have a lot of features that boost the efficiency and reputation of a healthcare provider’s practice, but they offer different features that are important to understand.
This article will focus on medical billing management software and medical practice management (MPM) software. Check out our other articles if you want to know if your office needs both EHR and practice management software, or you can find the difference between EHR and practice management software. For everything medical billing and practice management, read on!
The Difference between Practice Management Software vs Medical Billing Software
Both these solutions offer a range of prices, features and deployments. Both will assist with ICD-10 and HIPAA compliance, ensuring patient data security. If you want web-based software for an orthopedic specialty, for instance, you’ll likely be able to find a variety of products that will work for you. But odds are, one will work better for your unique requirements than another, and we’re here to help sort out the differences.
Healthcare providers of many kinds use medical software to manage their revenue cycle. This includes activities like medical billing and coding, as well as sending claims to insurance companies. Medical billing software efficiently handles the billing process so a medical professional has accurate, up-to-date financial records.
Also known as medical accounting software or practice billing software, medical billing software tracks patient history through their billing encounters, offering users a complete record for every patient. This serves as a backup for EMR/EHR failures or inaccuracies. Medical billing software checks insurance eligibility when a patient comes for a visit, helping prevent pricey miscommunications and insurance gaps.
Alternatively, medical practice management software handles a range of tasks for your medical practice. These include scheduling appointments, recording patient data, storing health records and creating reports. It can also help automate and streamline repetitive office tasks, freeing up your office staff for more intensive work.
It’s important to note that some types of management software can handle billing procedures as well as administrative tasks for the office of a healthcare professional. Many systems that are sold as MPM software are also medical billing software, but the reverse is not true.
To help you decide whether to choose practice billing software or practice management software, we’ve broken down some situations that may be relevant to you:
When to Choose Medical Billing Software
There are a range of reasons that can contribute to whether or not you should utilize medical billing software. Practice size, budget, staff resources and other medical softwareare all important to take into consideration when deciding whether to choose revenue cycle management software or practice management software.
If you’re a healthcare provider that simply wants some additional help with the financial side of your practice, you may find that using a medical billing software or service meets your needs. This type of software offers healthcare providers instant access to any bill or claim. For instance, the manager of a pediatrician’s office can see when a specific bill was sent to a patient and check its status to determine if it has been paid. If it hasn’t, the person can see how long it’s been overdue.
All of this is done electronically, which cuts down on the amount of paperwork moving through your practice. Physicians and medical practice staff have more than enough on their plates without having to worry about data entry and tracking down patients who haven’t paid their bills yet. Medical billing software even automates many of these processes.
If you want to reduce the workload of people working on your staff, then billing software may be a good option for you. For example, a dentist who has a staff of five very busy people in the front office may be able to more evenly distribute work with the implementation of billing software. The billing process is almost completely automated, so there is no need to utilize employees’ time to type bills, proofread them and send them out.
In addition, this automated process cuts down on the number of errors included in bills and claims. In fact, there are many types of billing software that send up a red flag if there is a possible error on a patient’s bill or a claim to an insurance company. Catching an error before a document is sent out can save a healthcare provider both time and money. If you work in a busy, growing practice, this software can keep track of your finances with ease and efficiency.
If you like the sound of these perks but aren’t sold on a particular medical billing software, there are also medical billing services. These companies outsource the medical billing process and manage claim submission, tracking and completion for you. This can be an especially attractive option to large practices that have too high a volume of patient flow to realistically manage their own billing.
When to Choose Medical Practice Management Software
Medical practice management software is a good idea if you want software that handles both administrative and financial duties for your office. It lumps together the capabilities of patient scheduling software, EMR/EHR, medical billing software and patient management software into a single convenient system. This can be both good and bad for a couple reasons.
If you are a physician who wants to start a small practice, you may want to consider this software. It can easily handle the volume of patients you’ll be scheduling, treating and billing. MPM can then display it conveniently in a single interface since a small amount of staff will likely be performing those tasks.
In many cases, a doctor or dentist who is just starting out has a small budget. Practice management systems are also a more budget-friendly catch-all solution than a separate medical billing system that will have to be integrated with your EMR/EHR software and patient scheduling systems.
The budget-consciousness of an MPM solution applies to employees as well. Getting MPM software can help you avoid hiring and paying a large staff. Practice management software is also helpful for large practices. Physicians working in a large office can access their daily schedules in real time so they will know about patient cancellations right away. Many types of management systems for medical practices offer automated reminders to patients regarding upcoming appointments. This frees busy office staff from these and many other manual, time-consuming tasks.
Patient registration and approval of insurance coverage are simple with the help of this software. Healthcare professionals can access patients’ medical records and billing information even if they are out of the office. Many hospitals use this software because it allows physicians, nurses, X-ray technicians and others instant access to information that they can use to give each patient the best possible care.
Practice management software is ideal for any provider that wants to concentrate on treating patients instead of dealing with the everyday logistics that are a necessary part of any healthcare facility. Remember that when choosing software, it’s important to find a product that suits the needs of your particular office.
5 Types of Practices that Will Benefit
Medical Practice Management (MPM) software is vitally important for all sorts of healthcare practices, from general practices to speciality practices, and it’s part of the cornerstone of technology for innovating in healthcare today. Medical Practice Management tools allow healthcare providers to streamline aspects of administration, to improve the quality of care for patients, and to keep things running smoothly for both the clinical and record-keeping sides of the business.
Family Practice Doctors
Family practice offices are busy places. There’s always a flood of patients moving through the practice at any given time. Doctors have to manage patient time very effectively, and handle many other aspects of administration, to avoid getting behind throughout the day.
Medical Practice Management tools help in many different ways. They allow doctors quick access to patient information, (and also enable quick and effective recording of data during consultation) and help with the billing cycle that is so important for every patient visit. They help provide an effective chain of communication for things like diagnosis and procedure codes. They also help with scheduling and other aspects of patient interactions, such as handling release forms, issuing prescriptions and maintaining access to records.
Different kinds of specialists also use Medical Practice Management software to make sure they handle information well, and provide a good experience for patients.
For example, dermatologists may use specific types of MPM solutions for the patient processes that are most common in their offices. Because dermatology consultation involves so much visual tracking of changes in the skin, MPM systems for dermatologists may feature easy interactive image handling, and the funneling of visual information into charts and forms.
For other specialists, such as gastroenterologists, there may be more of a general focus on helping doctors to handle routine aspects of business administration. Many of these doctors are particularly skilled in technical aspects of care, and may not be as connected to the business administration side of the provider’s office. Medical Practice Management tools can help provide intuitive ways for doctors and nurses and others to run the offices and keep on top of administrative details.
Oncology and Pathology Offices
Medical Practice Management is also extremely important in those offices that deal with oncology or disease management. In many of these practices, time is of the essence, and having a better handle on timely communications and scheduling can make a big difference in outcomes.
For these practices, some of the benefit of Medical Practice Management software involves a smooth chain of communications, and having all of the important data on hand when it is needed. In these types of practices, it’s important not to let anything fall through the cracks — whether it’s related to conducting and delivering test results, or sending referrals, or anything else related to this kind of very important care. One way that MPM helps these offices to improve patient care is through the use of sophisticated timeline observation tools that help doctors to make sure that critical tasks are being done in a timely manner.
Surgeon’s offices may also use Medical Practice Management resources to help manage administrative aspects of a healthcare business. Some of the benefits here relate to good record-keeping and its use against the risk of medical malpractice. Where the threat of medical mistakes exists, good data handling practices and visual MPM solutions are effective ways to help decrease or eliminate such mistakes that can be tragic for patients and enormously expensive for practices. MPM tools incorporate these sorts of “best practices” to minimize risk and drive better patient outcomes.
Many types of Medical Practice Management software are built specifically for large facility providers, such as hospitals or other parts of modern medical networks, such as health campuses.
In these cases, where there are dozens of doctors involved and many different types of clinical work going on, there’s a precise need for systems that can handle large quantities of information. MPM vendors will provide packages with specific features and functionality, whether that’s for scheduling and appointment setting, referrals, prescriptions, blood tests or anything else that’s part of the common process for the provider.
Medical Practice Management systems also help these offices, and smaller offices, with specific types of compliance and security issues. The U.S. Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act or HIPAA strictly governs the use and release of personal health information for patients. All practices need to be compliant with HIPAA, and can use modern MPM tools to affect the integrity of the data that they hold.
In all of these different sorts of situations, Medical Practice Management holds a very real value for medical provider offices. Although they may be integrated with broader and more comprehensive electronic health record solutions, MPM toolkits are precisely focus on helping to manage the healthcare business day to day. The concrete benefits they provide are based on certain kinds of automation and precise data management that help a digital healthcare industry to move forward in serving patients, and delivering excellence to communities.
Both of these types of software can assist physicians in improving the efficiency and operation of their practice. Either way, the billing process is simplified and streamlined. Patient information and financial records are secure and easily accessible to streamline the process of caring for patients. And, most importantly, these software solutions help take care of the other stuff so you can focus on what really matters — taking care of patients.