Medical software has become a staple of the healthcare industry in recent years. From EMR/EHR and practice management software to medical billing and patient scheduling, there are a wide variety of options as well as tools and features when it comes to medical software. These medical features offer a number of benefits to help with healthcare organizations from small specialty clinics to larger hospital systems.
With the increasing popularity of medical software, healthcare facilities have noticed an increase in their overall revenue and daily traffic. Additionally, health organizations can become eligible to receive government incentives simply by implementing certain software systems. With so many different systems and tools to choose from, we hope this article will help steer you in the right direction during the software selection process.
Where to Start
The software selection process, whether it’s for medical software or not, is often a time-consuming and potentially confusing ordeal. Every healthcare organization is, to some extent, unique, which means the tools and features needed will vary depending on your facility’s size, specialty, treatment type and more. It’s important to talk to your clinicians and other staff about current issues and what they hope to improve with the addition of medical software.
It’s also crucial to know the key features of medical software solutions so you can create a specific list of requirements for your healthcare facility. Keep in mind, this article will focus primarily on the most common as well as necessary features of varying medical software solutions, while some of the more minor features may not be included.
Medical Software Features
Medical software allows practitioners to focus more of their efforts on patient care and less of their time documenting patient information. Whether it involves patient appointments or managing the equipment your facility uses, medical software can handle a great deal of your clinic’s daily operations.
Healthcare solutions such as EMR software first came out as a way to document patient information electronically rather than by hand. This lead to far fewer errors and an increase in the quality of healthcare as well as customer service. As a result of medical software, healthcare organizations of all sizes and treatment types have been able to increase their revenue without compromising quality service and care.
Smart Scheduling: Many medical software providers feature dynamic scheduling. This means that in addition to booking appointments, your software will be able to properly assign specialty equipment to the corresponding exam room and physician. Patient scheduling software is used to manage appointments efficiently.
Patient History: How much time does your clinic spend looking up a patient’s medical history? With medical software, physicians can quickly access and update a patient’s file while simultaneously saving that data and storing it for future use.
Productivity and Efficiency: How much time do your physicians spend recording and looking up patient information? Are you maximizing the number of patients who can be treated per day? Medical software allows physicians to spend more time dealing with patients and less time charting or looking up patient data.
Eliminate Errors:How often do you find legibility issues or poor handwriting leading to mistakes? Recording information electronically rather than by hand eliminates the majority of human errors while improving the accuracy of information.
Medical software is made to handle virtually every aspect of your healthcare organization, from managing the employee schedule to providing patient treatment. With such a wide variety of medical software options, the features required will vary between different health facilities.
Charting and Documenting
One of the biggest reasons for the use of patient portals is to encourage more patient involvement. Patients can check their medical history, pre-register for appointments, view their current and past medications, and make payments online. Additionally, patients can communicate with their physicians through instant messages or even face-to-face video calls.
Rather than having to make an appointment for every little thing, patients can instead deal with less pressing matters from the comfort of their own home. Patients and their physicians can also work together to create and monitor unique health plans as well as keep track of their treatment progress.
Online Appointment Scheduling
Alerts and Notifications
Custom Health Plans
Telemedicine is one way patients can communicate with their physicians and receive treatment without having to meet in-person. The term telemedicine, also referred to as telehealth, essentially involves providing health care, consultations and assessments remotely. From mobile health care and in-home visits to online video-chat appointments, telemedicine allows physicians to communicate with their patients and provide proper treatment without having to be in the same room, or even the same country for that matter.
Practitioners in the office can receive real-time data and alerts from equipment being used in a patient’s home. Additionally, physicians can leave comments and send out reminders regarding upcoming appointments, medication changes and more.
Real-Time Video Chats
Remote Patient Monitoring
Notifications and Reminders
E-prescribing has become more and more popular in recent years, especially with the current opioid epidemic in the U.S. Prescribing medications electronically leads to far fewer errors; pharmacists can be assured they are handing out the proper prescriptions while practitioners are able to track whether or not an order has been carried out. Prior to handing out medication, pharmacists can check for any drug-to-drug or drug-to-allergy interactions that may result based on a patient’s current medication(s) and/or diagnosis.
Certain states have adopted laws mandating the use of e-prescribing for prescription drugs, largely due to addiction and abuse issues. While some states, like New York, require e-prescribing for all prescription drugs, other states only require the e-prescribing of controlled substances, such as opioids. While there are still a decent amount of U.S. states that don’t currently mandate e-prescribing, many are in the works to do so within the next couple years.
This feature helps with the overall monitoring of a patient’s medication while also streamlining the entire prescription process. A patient may request a refill, and then their physician can electronically send that request to the pharmacy to be filled out and held for pickup. Not only does this create a smoother process for the physician and the patient, but it also eliminates any issues due to lost or misplaced prescriptions.
Drug Interaction Alerts
Prescription Requests and Refills
Computerized Physician Order Entry (CPOE)
Automated Clinical Decision Support
Electronic Prior Approval
Patient Allergy Lists
Not only do current medical software solutions automate and make daily tasks easier, but they can also provide a variety of analytics. These analytics can be used to recognize health patterns, help predict a patient’s diagnosis and more.
Once a patient’s information is stored to the software’s servers, that data can then be compared with that of a larger group of patients to provide physicians with a broader scope of overall healthcare.
With remote patient monitoring, medical equipment is able to automatically transfer data over to the software. Physicians and patients can be alerted when something out of the ordinary happens with certain medical equipment.
In addition to comparing patient data, analytics can be used to compare how your facility’s treatment stacks up against other health organizations. These analytics can track your clinic’s progress and revenue over time to see whether or not you are headed in the right direction.
Master Patient Index (MPI)
When it comes to getting paid, medical billing software is practically a necessity for any healthcare organization. Patients can receive billing statements, check their payment history and make payments all through the use of their mobile device.
One of the most important features involving billing/payment includes the management of insurance claims. Along with verifying a patient’s insurance, your medical software is able to scrub insurance claims for any errors which may otherwise lead to denial or resubmissions. In turn, your healthcare facility spends less time dealing with claims and can get paid much more quickly.
Patients can also work with their physicians to create individual payment plans if needed. They’re also able to make adjustments to their payment plans, set up auto-pay and receive alerts notifying them of any upcoming or past-due payments.
Online Invoices and Payments
Patient Payment History
Custom Payment Plans
Security and Support
One of the greatest advantages to come with medical software includes the security of sensitive information. Before EHR software existed, many healthcare organizations designated entire rooms to the storing of paper medical documents — these files were much more susceptible to damage, theft, misplacement and tampering. Storing these sensitive documents online rather than in physical filing cabinets eliminates these risks while limiting who is granted access to a patient’s information.
When it comes to customer support, many medical software vendors provide training and support videos, while some may even help with the installation and implementation process. Most medical software solutions offer support through email, phone or their website.
Be aware; customer support will vary depending on the vendor, so make sure to choose a medical solution which comes with the level of support you’ll need. Some solutions offer 24/7 support services, but you should keep in mind that some vendors charge additional fees or have multiple price points when it comes to customer support.
Data Encryption & Protection
Voice Recognition/Identity Verification
Control User Access Levels
Secure Direct Messaging
Training and Tutorials
Email and Phone Support
Medical software, along with healthcare in general, has changed quite a bit over the years. As more and more healthcare organizations have implemented medical software, those who have not are simply falling behind.
Many of these medical software solutions provide benefits not only for your health facility and practitioners, but patients as well. Encouraging more patient communication and involvement leads to a better patient experience. When you combine this with the fact that medical software is leading to more accurate diagnosis and treatment — it’s a win-win.
Remember, and we can’t stress this enough, every healthcare organization is different and therefore will require specific features. It’s also important to get insight from your current staff about what they wish to gain out of implementing medical software. Knowing your organization’s individual goals and requirements is of the utmost importance while in the beginning stages of software selection and implementation.
With hundreds of vendors out there, the medical software selection process should not be rushed. It’s important to take the time to compare a variety of vendors and then determine which solution is the best fit for your healthcare organization.
Still have any questions about medical software features? What about any we missed? Let us know in the comments.