Integration in software systems is a big buzzword right now, but when it comes to medical billing software, it’s actually critically important. Disparate parts of various software programs that don’t share information with each other can create inefficiencies and slowdowns in your practice workflows. Worse, though, they could actually make it harder for providers to access important information about a patient’s medical history and care, which puts the patient’s health and risk and the provider at risk for medical liability.
Patient Health & Safety
The biggest reason you need to have interoperability in medical software systems is for your patients. Information stored in an electronic health record (EHR) is used to provide care, so it needs to be accurate. Your system needs to be able to import data about past treatment, medications, medical history, allergies, and other health concerns, as well as family history so providers can make the best medical care decisions for each patient. If your staff is importing this information or typing it in by hand, there’s a risk of error that increases the chance of making a medical mistake that is harmful or in some cases deadly.
Reporting requirements have also increased in recent years, which means you need to be able to quickly pull data about your patients, including treatment protocols, insurance information, and other things to satisfy MIPS and MACRA quality reporting requirements, as well as quality and value-based care requirements from commercial payers. If your systems don’t work well together, that can be a frustrating exercise in manual labor for your staff.
Another reason it’s so critical that your various software programs are connected seamlessly is for the efficiency of your practice. A patient’s journey includes several points where your staff will use technology and software systems:
- Medical scheduling
- Patient appointment reminders
- Early check-in (via email or mobile device)
- Insurance verification
- Consent forms
- Check-in (copays and registration)
- Patient visit (EHR)
- Delivering lab results or medication refills and e-prescribing via patient portal
- Medical billing
All of these points have a corresponding software program that goes with the task. With the exception of a few clinics that are still operating on paper charts and using Excel spreadsheets to schedule, most of these functions are part of your overall practice management software. However, if you are like many small and independent clinics, you may have put together a patchwork of several different systems from different vendors for each step of the journey.
If your systems don’t talk to each other and share data, that means manual work for someone to type information into one system from another, scan it in, or export/import. Every time there is a human intervention, you are at a higher risk of data errors that lead to lost revenue or other inefficiencies.