The healthcare industry has been experiencing significant changes. Whether these changes are related to cultural shifts, like learning the differences between using person first language and identity first language, or technological shifts, the effects on the industry are unavoidable. In this article, we’re going to focus on one of these technology-related changes; specifically, looking at practice management software and EHR. As technology continues to be developed and implemented into the healthcare industry, an ever-increasing number of healthcare businesses are utilizing these platforms. Some of the services they offer are fairly similar, and it can be difficult to ascertain the specific differences between software. This is where we can help. In this guide, we’re going to outline exactly what practice management software and EHR platforms are and then dive into some of the key differences between them. Having this kind of knowledge under your belt should help equip you to make informed decisions for your own healthcare practice when it comes to investing in new systems.
What is Practice Management Software?
Let’s take a look at practice management software. This type of system has been developed to help healthcare practitioners optimize the administrative processes within their businesses. These platforms aim to streamline various tasks, saving healthcare practices time and resources. Regardless of whether you are a therapist, psychologist, counselor, general practitioner, or another healthcare provider, practice management software will be able to assist your business.
Features of practice management software
Although there will be variations in the features offered in each practice management software, they tend to be integrated with the following tools:
- Appointment scheduling and reminders
- Medical billing and coding
- Clinical documentation assistance, including access to note templates
- Clinical documentation storage
- Health insurance verification
- Patient check-in process
- Patient engagement, via a patient portal
- Personalized calendar features
Key benefits of practice management software
If you choose to invest in practice management software for your healthcare business, you are guaranteed to experience a wide range of different benefits. These include:
Workflow: Practice management software optimizes the overall workflow at healthcare businesses. By targeting a range of different administrative processes, practice management software ensures that tasks get completed in a much more efficient way. Because the system handles billing and scheduling, the time that you would usually spend chasing down payments, following up with insurance, and trying to get in touch with patients can instead be spent completing more pressing day-to-day tasks.
Focus on patients: An additional benefit of the time that practice management software will save you is the ability to invest this into patient relationships. Managing patient relationships is a very important aspect of working in a healthcare business that is often not prioritized enough, but by using practice management software you will be able to dedicate more time to strengthening these relationships. These platforms are also frequently integrated with patient engagement tools, including client portals and self-check-in processes.
Reduction in errors: When you are looking for a solution that will streamline processes at your healthcare business, it is very important that the tool you invest in doesn’t undermine the quality of your work. Fortunately, practice management software is designed to improve accuracy and reduce errors, allowing you to save countless hours without compromising your work.
What is Electronic Health Records (EHR)?
Electronic Health Records (EHRs) are online systems that house patient medical information. These platforms allow patient data to be shared between different third parties who may work in other departments or facilities. EHRs typically employ cloud-based technology, which means they update in real time. This ensures that information recorded in the system is instantly available to authorized users. EHRs are robust tools that streamline data collection and storage. They are often integrated with various kinds of patient information, including treatment history, medications, diagnosis, insurance providers, and test results. Using a single platform to store all of this information helps to improve communication and coordination of care, ensuring that patients and clients are receiving the highest quality of care possible. The EHR market has grown exponentially in recent years, and the majority of healthcare practices (working across a broad range of different specializations) have invested in them.
Practice Management vs. EHR: The key differences practitioners should know
Because they are both technology solutions that help streamline administrative processes within healthcare practices, differentiating between practice management software and EHRs can be difficult. Nevertheless, there are some key differences between the features and functions of both of these systems, including the following:
Automation and efficiency
Both systems are centered around using automation to elevate efficiency. Practice management software uses automation to create optimized schedules and streamline the medical billing process. EHRs typically use automation to assess patient charts and potentially identify patterns across this data. Both of these types of automation reduce the workload of administrative tasks, which in turn improves efficiency.
Data sharing with third parties
Figuring out a safe way to share data between third parties is a very important aspect of healthcare. Patients will often be treated by more than one care provider, and these practitioners may work across a number of different facilities. Additionally, insurance providers that are covering a patient’s services will need to access clinical documents in order to gather certain information. This is an area where EHR systems excel. On the other hand, practice management systems are typically used to streamline in-house processes, meaning they are less involved with data sharing, also many platforms still offer this capability.
EHR systems are incentivized at a governmental level, with financial recompense being offered to healthcare practices that implement and use this software. Research demonstrates that utilizing EHRs improves the care delivery process and clinical outcomes, which is the primary reason for them being incentivized.
There is another key difference between the primary end users of each solution. While EHRs are typically used by doctors, primary care physicians, and nurses, practice management systems are more often used by administrative staff, including receptionists and office managers.
Practice management software places more emphasis on coordinating operations and minimizing tasks. This essentially means that these platforms reduce workload by condensing requirements into fewer tasks, improving the workflow at a business.
Billing and financial analysis
While EHRs are focused on recording, storing, and sharing patient medical information, practice management systems have a range of purposes, including simplifying the medical billing process. Practice management software can assess insurance providers and claims, helping the healthcare business get reimbursed at a faster rate. Additionally, these platforms are often integrated with financial analytics, allowing healthcare businesses to identify areas where they are financially performing well and areas that may require some improvement.
While EHRs store patient information and allow for a more informed care delivery process, practice management systems facilitate improved patient communication. For example, many practice management solutions are integrated with a client portal, which allows patients to schedule their own appointments, contact their providers directly, and make online payments. These features help increase the transparency of the healthcare system and ensure that patient needs are being met.
While both solutions have reporting capabilities, this is a primary function of EHRs, whereas it is more of a by-product of practice management systems. EHRs are designed to produce reports regarding the health of patients. These reports may provide an overall assessment of a patient’s health condition, or they could screen for possible illnesses, or identify preventative measures that need to be taken.
As you can see, despite there being some similarities between the two systems, there are also a few key differences between EHRs and practice management software. Importantly, some of the best practice management software is integrated with EHRs, allowing you to take advantage of both of these highly robust solutions. Further, these management platforms are guaranteed to bring optimized workflows to your business, regardless of whether you work as a general practitioner, in psychotherapy or counseling, or as a mentor or a coach.
Use Carepatron: The Healthcare Platform you and your clients will love
One of the best solutions currently available in today’s market is Carepatron, a practice management software that integrates with a robust EHR. Regardless of whether you work in a group practice or a private practice, Carepatron will provide you with solutions that streamline communication, patient engagement, medical billing, scheduling, and documentation. With the time that is saved by optimizing each of these processes, you can invest in completing more urgent tasks. Carepatron also takes security very seriously and is entirely HIPAA-compliant. This means that you can store all of your PHI on the platform and rest assured that there are appropriate physical and electronic safeguards in place. We understand that investing in an entirely new system can be fairly daunting, but with Carepatron’s round-the-clock support team, you will have all of the help you need to quickly and effectively master the platform. Finally, Carepatron understands the difficulty of finding high-quality practice management solutions at an affordable price, which is why they offer an entirely free plan, with no time restrictions or hidden add-on costs. What are you waiting for? Get started today with Carepatron.