Practice management software keeps the medical office running smoothly, and the wrong package can wreak havoc with billing, scheduling, and other essential business processes. A closer look at KLAS’ top-ranked systems will help you choose the one that best fits your practice.
Practice management (PM) software runs the business side of healthcare, from scheduling patients to billing to generating monthly reports, so picking the right system is crucial for any size medical practice. Unlike with electronic health records (EHRs), selecting and overseeing a PM system isn’t typically the physician’s domain. In a large practice, it typically falls on the office manager’s or IT manager’s shoulders.
While physicians may have little to say about choosing a PM system, they sure do pay attention to it when problems occur. When they don’t get paid, or they receive constant complaints from back-office staff, these programs suddenly become top of mind.
But how do office or IT managers know if they’re choosing the right PM software system for their business? Rosemarie Nelson, a principal with the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) tells InformationWeek Healthcarethat a major decision point is picking a PM system that works well with the practice’s EHR.
“Oftentimes it isn’t which EHR to buy or which practice management system to buy; sometimes it’s which bundle to buy because the physician wants a tightly integrated solution,” Nelson said. She added that the EHR is more the driver than the PM system. “You pick the EHR that fits you because billing is billing, so chances are the PM systems that works for that EHR will be just fine,” said Nelson.
However, when choosing a PM software system it’s still a good idea to determine if you want to go with a single vendor system that’s natively integrated with an EHR, or a best-of-breed system that requires an interface.
Physician practices large and small often turn to the Best In KLAS Awardsfor software and services as a guide when selecting a PM software vendor. KLAS independently monitors vendor performance, with the assistance of thousands of healthcare organizations. KLAS ranks PM software vendors for applicability to various practice types, from single practice to 150-plus physician groups.
According to Mark Wagner, senior director of ambulatory research at KLAS, PM software is one of the highest scoring segments that KLAS examines. Wagner told InformationWeek Healthcarethat most leading PM systems have similar core functionality.
“Functionality is important to providers. However, if you’re hung up on functionality and that’s all you’ve got, and you’re not taking care of the relationship [with the healthcare provider] and you’re not making sure [the providers] feel like their success matters to you as a vendor, they are going to score you poorly when you start measuring their overall experience and satisfaction,” said Wagner.
Industry insiders point out that a leading challenge for physician practices is how long it takes to implement the PM system. Getting all the physicians in a large group up to speed on software can be a real headache. That headache will only be made worse if, after the practice buys the license, the vendor isn’t helpful in getting doctors over the speed bumps.
Here’s a look at 10 of the top PM software vendors, as ranked by KLAS, along with an overview of the features that office and IT managers want.
NextGen Healthcare’s Practice Management scheduling and billing system is ranked among the top 10 in all of the Best In KLAS Awards physician subsets, from single-physician to 150-plus physician practices. Popular features include its WorkLog Manager, an automated task management system that’s fully integrated with NextGen Practice Management’s main features. WorkLog Manager is capable of automatically instructing a staff on what action to take when, for example, there is a canceled appointment. The system’s person database helps to avoid duplicate data entries, while at the same time maintaining all demographic data from one visit to another, and makes it accessible from all practice locations. Integration via NextGen’s product suite allows for consistent, real-time clinical and administrative workflow among providers, hospitals, and patients. In addition, NextGen can keep physicians’ practices on track for regulatory changes, including transitions to the new HIPAA 5010 transaction set, the ICD-10 code set, and SNOMED-Ct.
AthenaHealth’s AthenaCollector cloud-based medical billing system helps identify issues, track trends, and improve workflow. One popular feature is the Billing Rules Engine that is designed to help physicians collect money by drawing on industry-leading payer-rules intelligence and making sure that medical billing claims are addressed the first time. According to Athena, practices that use AthenaCollector see an average 12% increase in collections and an average 35% reduction in their days in accounts receivable. The cloud-based network delivers robust reporting, tracking, and benchmarking of a practice’s financial performance.
Physicians, from solo practices through those in enterprise-class health networks, can take advantage of the features in eClinicalWorks’ Practice Management system. The appointment, scheduling, billing, and storage system is integrated with eClinicalWorks’ EHR system. The schedule-management feature administers multiple providers’ schedules across several office locations, blocks off hours, sets rules for recurring appointments, and creates schedule templates. The system allows the staff to check the next day’s schedule for patient insurance eligibility. The medical billing management feature submits claims electronically, interfaces with clearinghouses, utilizes claims-rules engines, tracks the status of claims, and determines what and when services will be paid.
Among the benefits of McKesson’s Horizon Practice Plus practice management system is the comprehensive master person index (MPI) that drives accurate patient information and business management. MPI has advanced search and retrieval technologies designed to prevent duplicate registrations and errors. The system enables scheduling of equipment, rooms, and personnel. McKesson’s open architecture enables integration with Horizon Ambulatory Care and other hospital information systems. An appealing feature for office and IT managers is access to online worklists and collection tools that track payment activity from patient visit to collection of overdue accounts.
An appealing feature of Allscripts PM is a rules-based engine that closely aligns staff preferences with industry best practices by using optimal workflow automation. The result is a connected and productive front and back office. The single-screen Executive Dashboard provides users with quick viewing and management of administrative and financial information including: daily appointments; real-time claims status; summary of accounts receivable charges; payments; and evaluation and management coding trends.
Allscripts PM helps keep a physician practice secure and compliant to changing rules and regulations by enabling a practice to secure patient information by: limiting practice financial information access based on department rules; securing file maintenance data by location, service, provider, resource, and schedule; managing records by practice, division, department, physician, and more; and receiving ongoing monitoring of server and systems, as well as disaster recovery services. The system helps maintain regulatory compliance with HIPAA, ANSI 5010, ICD-10, and the Red Flag rule.
GE Healthcare’s Centricity Group Management 4.0 is designed to address patient collection needs through simplified and streamlined workflows, as well as reduce staff effort by correcting and reposting claims through new transaction management capabilities.
Office managers and IT personnel find several Centricity features appealing, including the system’s ability to improve revenue cycle performance through enhanced connectivity with Centricity EDI Clearinghouse for electronic data interchange; a patient portal that provides secure Web access to pre-arrival information, scheduling, and other key components; a HIPAA-ready strategy that allows for private, secure information exchange with referring providers; and access to Web-based information, including referrals and eligibility checks, which makes front desk staff more efficient in complying with managed care requirements. The system also features automated alerts that provide accurate demographic data at the point of check in and intuitive workflow for increased efficiency, including patient-focused principles, advanced collections, and quick-access document imaging. Clinical connectivity allows for integration with other healthcare information systems and sharing of common data with Centricity Electronic Medical Record.
Epic boasts that its Practice Management system’s Cadence Enterprise Scheduling software component makes it easy for end users to schedule any type of visit or procedure from anywhere in the organization. IT and office managers appreciate that Cadence serves as an intelligent partner for users, providing context-specific instructions, conflict checking, and tools for complicated appointment searches. Another appealing feature is the comprehensive rules-based scheduling feature that accommodates the needs of each clinician, room, and piece of equipment, thereby optimizing the use of staff and capital resources throughout the practice.
Users also like the integrated single billing office (SBO) feature that includes a single bill and payment plan that increases patient satisfaction; a single account that simplifies follow-up and back office staffing; and a single point of customer service that is convenient for patients and helps simplify administration. The Resolute Professional Billing component is designed to reduce accounts receivable days, produce accurate claims, and allow for paperless collection. The Resolute system makes it easy for office personnel to track revenue from individual billing entities, and its reporting tools allow personnel to analyze financial performance.
For office and IT managers looking for tools to help improve operational efficiency, reimbursement, and collections, Vitera Healthcare Solution’s Vitera Intergy practice management product features a collections module with a tickler file for timely, automated insurance and guarantor accounts-receivable follow-up; intelligent billing, claims, and denial management to improve cash flow and reduce days in accounts receivable; rules-based scheduling; and robust financial and administrative reporting. Among the system’s highlights: a server- or subscription-based hosted option; a single database shared with Intergy EHR; and full electronic data interchange integration with transaction service.
Midsize to large physician practices looking for an enterprise-wide system to manage front and back office functions, improve financial performance, and streamline workflow find Cerner PowerworksPractice Management to be a reliable product. Powerworks features flexible scheduling, customized to user preferences, that maximizes provider productivity and meets rigorous scheduling demands. Alert messages, a master patient index, and insurance profiles help reduce error and administrative expenses during registration and charge entry.
The AdvancedMD cloud-based medical practice management software from Automatic Data Processing gives physician practices the latest updates to medical codes and rules needed for effective coding & billing. Updates are automatic and free of charge through a Web-based medical software platform.
The Central Billing Office (CBO) feature provides centralized access to satellite medical practices from one master office. With a single login, medical billing office staff can view, edit, and manage the billing process for all physicians and associated medical practices. It features an online CPT billing code database that provides fast, simple access to the latest updated codes, right from the medical billing system. The Claims Inspector features an online CPT code system that helps make claims accurate and error-free. The company boasts 95% first-pass clean-claim rate.