5 Things To Consider When Changing Practice Management Software
Practice Management Software (PMS) is an increasingly common feature of the modern healthcare clinic, gym or training studio. Regardless of whether a clinic is moving from the traditional paper-based patient notes to a PMS, or changing the PMS they use; like any technology change these changes can come with some trepidation, flashbacks to Y2K and some good ol’ technophobic fear. So here’s 5 things to consider when moving to or changing PMS.
1. Client support and service
It is frustrating when you submit a service request and get no feedback from the software provider. You pay for the service so why aren’t you getting it and in a timely manner? Well this should definitely come into your Practice Management Software due diligence. Average response times, average times to close out requests and how they are delivered – phone, email or both all need to be considered.
This is key, especially early on in the PMS transfer. Some newer PMS providers have gone straight to email only which whilst effective in most cases may not suit your clinic depending on your team (admin team, healthcare practitioners and trainers).
2. Integration ability
Software integration is key. Rarely does one piece of software do absolutely everything (or do everything well). So a Practice Management Software that has the ability (and track record) to integrate is something definitely worth considering. Even if your clinic has no other software in the clinic yet, as clinics and gyms modernise in the future, this will change. Think integrations with cloud-based accounting (www.xero.com), exercise prescription (www.trackactive.co) and other software. Also, what are PMS provider’s plans for future development and integration? Cliniko is an example of a PMS that already has established integrations.
To repeat. Everything is integrating today – and new apps and software are being created globally every day. The Practice Management Software you choose needs to have integration ability – this will ultimately make the administrative aspect for the admin team, clinicians and trainers easier and faster to adopt and use. Not to mention making your business look more professional and more connected. Remember no one wants to drive down a cul-de-sac unless you live there…
3. Support with initial set-up of new Practice Management Software
A major concern that gets raised frequently when speaking to clinics about Practice Management Software and general software changes is the initial set-up of the PMS and migration of data from the old to the new PMS, or converting paper-based files to the new PMS. .CSV files and exporting patient files – how will it work, when will it happen and what kind of support can you expect from the PMS provider?
When making the transition to a new PMS, it is imperative for the admin team, practitioners and trainers that this happen as seamlessly as possible with as minimal downtime as possible. A Practice Management Software provider that can support you through this as you get up to speed with the new software system is worth its weight in gold – it certainly helps reduce a significant barrier to change for clinics, gyms and training studios. An example of additional support in the transition phase is www.nookal.com which provides direct assistance with .CSV and patient data transfers.
A major piece of the transition puzzle is exporting of the patient files. This is typically something a PMS won’t do (think patient files, not patient contact details which are captured in the .CSV file migration). If the transfer of these files is left to the administration team, this can take months (if not years) because of other responsibilities and the sheer volume of patient files. An alternative is to consider writing up an airtight process and posting a job request on a site like Freelancer.comto have a recommended outsourced resource complete the transfer of patient file notes to the new PMS remotely. This move alone can change years and months to weeks and possibly even days! And your administration team will love you for it also. Hello god.
Most importantly, keep communication lines open with your administration team, practitioners and trainers along the PMS transition timeline, listen to their feedback and troubleshoot any of their concerns in conjunction with the PMS provider’s support.
4. Cloud computing vs local server + application software
Traditional Practice Management Software have been hosted applications requiring a download to desktops, laptops and tablets on which the PMS is being used. In addition, a lot of these were hosted on a local server at the clinic premises. The establishment of this local server also brought with it a significant up front cost for a small business as well as on-going support costs.
But over the last five years in particular, cloud-computing has become more mainstream. If you look up in the sky, you will see the cloud, well not exactly, actually not at all. Cloud computing is now a viable alternative to the local server, coming at a significantly reduced cost whilst having higher levels of patient data security than a clinic’s budget could ever afford. And this brings us to an important point, as part of your due diligence, you should be asking your PMS provider where this mysterious cloud actually is and how your patient and clinic data is stored there.
Some of the fastest growing PMS companies now didn’t even exist 5 years ago and were established on the cloud right from the get go. An example of this is www.mystro.com. The cost savings can be phenomenal! A recent TrackActive client upgraded their PMS and has reduced their annual PMS cost by 66% – yes 66%. And the old PMS system was only installed five years prior.
5. Team Feedback + Training
A Practice Management Software transition is a team affair for the clinic, gym or training studio. Get all of the team trialing with allocated training times, clear objectives to achieve during these times and set everything out with clear deadlines for completion. A good PMS should be fairly intuitive to help users get up to speed quickly.
Establish a list of the fundamentals for seamless transition and on-going daily operation of the clinic when transferring from paper-based or old PMS to the new PMS occurs. Once this is bedded down, then consider what other meaningful reports the PMS data can provide you to help improve your clinic as a provider of quality healthcare and as a business.
Hardware is also good to get feedback from your team on during the trialing and training period. Not only on the use of the new PMS on different devices, also ergonomics of desktop vs laptop vs tablet, and the requirements of a room or clinic to adopt any of these pieces of hardware.
So there you go. 5 things to consider when considering a move to a PMS or change of PMS. And a final piece of advice, plan positively, prepare for the worst case scenarios and get underway.
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