Disclaimer: This blog article was written by an AdvancedMD partner. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of AdvancedMD.
A practice management system and an EHR together make up the most important member of your administrative team that performs all the tasks ranging from updating patient demographics to submitting claims to insurances and getting paid for your services. These two systems together allow your administrative staff to perform the daily tasks of welcoming and connecting with patients, creating patient records, submitting claims, managing payments, and communicating across all responsible parties. Your staff may need to deal with many other activities on a day-to-day basis and staying on top of everything becomes a major challenge.
It goes without saying that a medical billing software suite, which is basically a combination of electronic health records (EHR) and practice management software (PMS) is a crucial element that determines the efficiency and, to a larger extent, the success of your practice. This is something you cannot ignore, and you should invest in this combination for your practice. However, the question remains: which system should you go for and which software makes the best combination of covering all these critical activities.
Choosing a modern-age EHR/PMS combination helps your practice stand out as it automates the functioning of your practice, facilitating almost all patient administration tasks. This software bundle is equipped with all the tools required to handle the exponential or linear growth in tasks with the same efficiency as your practice grows. Another important aspect you need to think of is the cost associated with having such advanced software in place to handle your practice’s administrative work. A good medical billing software suite adapts for different specialties and different practice sizes, meaning that there is no rigid pricing pattern that only works for a large practice or a specific specialty. The flexibility and the affordability of the programs are the key benefits that you need to look for when choosing a modern EHR and PMS system over the age-old legacy systems.
What should an EHR/PMS combo include?
Before you make the decision to invest in the EHR/PMS combination for your practice, it is important to know what enhancements it will bring to your practice, in general. The key features you should look for in an EMR and PMS combo system are:
- Easy appointment scheduling
- Patient data information management
- Enhanced patient workflows that are tracked to avoid bottlenecks
- Boosted patient charting
- Claim submission and tracking
- Simple, easy-to-use user interface
- Time management
- Wide variety of reporting system for practice management
- Above all, completely cloud-based, meaning no installations
Most importantly, an EHR and PMS software should give you full, real-time access to all patient data and financial reports. There shouldn’t be any software incompatibility or any other reason why your staff can’t access data for your own practice.
The disadvantages of a Legacy System
Data Integrity & Interoperability
Data integrity is one of the key aspects that a healthcare practice needs to focus on. Ensuring quality of data in terms of efficiency and continuity of usage should be a priority for all healthcare practices. On top of that, safeguarding patient related information becomes critical for a practice to be compliant with government regulations. Legacy systems that are still reliant on outdated modules are at a higher risk of data loss and on top of that migration of data poses a huge challenge since these legacy systems are not equipped enough to handle the technological advances that the industry has gone through
Access to Information
Ease of use becomes a challenge with legacy software since the process to navigate is built on older software versions. Setting up a new practice on such outdated systems is an uphill task and consumes up to four times more resources and time in comparison to the newer technology systems. Getting things done in a timely manner is essential for a practice to thrive in the business of healthcare, specifically when you are dependent on insurances to pay you for the services rendered.
Slow & Unreliable
One cannot reliably share data from legacy systems since they were built on requirements that are currently obsolete or have been updated to newer guidelines. Insurance guidelines change very frequently and keeping up with these changes is an essential part of any healthcare practice to avoid denials and rejections from payers.
Majority of the revenue that a healthcare practice generates comes from the insurances and any error during the system setup and claims submission needs to be corrected as quickly as possible. Such errors cannot be left unaddressed for a longer time since most of the insurances work on a timely filing limit and would not let you refile a claim beyond the specified period. Legacy systems do not provide adequate support from the backend since the development of these systems has either stopped or is very limited which makes it tougher for a practice to resolve issues in a timely manner.
Modernization of a legacy system is a tougher task to achieve and moreover, the cost involved outweighs the value achieved through upgradation. Added to it, maintenance of such systems is always on the higher side, costing more to the practice in terms of time and money. Newer and better options provide a less costly, yet effective services compared to the legacy systems.
Security & Incompatibility
Cybersecurity has always been on the radar when it comes to healthcare data on legacy systems. Electronic exchange of information plays a vital role in the healthcare industry and sharing data in a secured environment should be on top of the list for every healthcare practice. Legacy systems hold a lot of information saved over the years and transferring this critical information over to another software system is a difficult task to perform, exposing the healthcare practice to cyberattacks and loss of important patient data. On top of that most of the legacy systems are incompatible with mobile technology, meaning data cannot be accessed real time over a smart phone or any such devices.
Usability & Training
One of the major drawbacks of legacy systems is the inability to customize the software based on user preferences. Not every healthcare practice is the same and each practice has its own set of requirements when it comes to customizing the reports, documentation templates, preparing dashboards, and monitoring overall practice health. All these functionalities cannot be found in legacy systems which are mostly built on a set of predefined modules.
The list is long, and one cannot ignore the fact that technology has advanced and practice management systems and EHRs running on legacy software tend to lose their core values over time. The competition is big in the healthcare arena and any healthcare practice would want to invest their money and time into systems that enhance their productivity and profits; and having the latest tools to work with is the way to go for every practice that thrives to grow.