Coaching and practice management have been a part of chiropractic since the days when Dr. Karl Parker first began teaching his seminars. Chiropractors that went to school to learn the skills of doctoring came out prepared to love and serve, and with the realization that they also needed to understand how to run a business. These doctors needed to be taught patient acquisition, retention, billing, collections, documentation, communication and a myriad of other skills necessary to keep a practice alive and thriving.
In the past coaches had to spend a great deal of time teaching doctors and staff administrative procedures to improve efficiency and certainty in the office . Out of these brilliant systems came ideas that led to the creation of travel cards, filing systems, schedule books, and other innovations. Each improvement was designed to enhance the experience for the patient while decreasing the stress on the doctor and the staff. The next logical step in this process of automation was the creation of practice management software to further simplify these office practices.
Practice management software has only become more of a reality over the past 10 years. In today’s healthcare environment, lowering overhead, sharing office space and staff, and creating relationships are some of the most important focuses of successful practices. The goal of these software products is not to replace the coaching systems that are out there but rather to complement what they do by automating tasks that interfere with the execution of the many communication skills that coaches are teaching.
The problem is that not all practice management software systems are created equal. On the surface they may provide many of the same features. It is only when they are looked at more closely do you start to see the glaring differences between them. Here are some of the factors that doctors should be looking for:
- Paperless – Ideally the goal of a robust practice management software program is to make your office completely paperless. Removing paper from the office lowers overhead by eliminating the need for folders, filing cabinets, HCFA forms, schedule books, sticky notes, envelopes, stamps, forms, questionnaires, and more. It also reduces the time it takes to manipulate them.
- Customization – The best practice management products allow doctors the flexibility to customize the program to suit their practice needs with customizable note taking macros, patient education, and staff management features. Every doctor has their own procedures and techniques as well as level of detail that they would like to keep in their records. Their chosen software has to have unlimited potential to meet these demands.
- Speed – Most doctors are overwhelmed with the responsibilities of managing patients, staff, business, and personal matters. These busy doctors can’t waste time hunting through multiple screens, drop-down lists, and files for information. The top practice management systems allow the doctors to quickly navigate with as few clicks as possible.
- Retention – Although software can’t care for the patients, it can make sure that the doctor has at his disposal all the tools necessary to manage their cases. Practice management software can make it simple for the doctor to perform a report of findings, teach the value of following care recommendations and create “wow” moments through customer service.
- Certainty – Great practice management software gives the doctor the peace of mind of knowing that the ledgers are balanced, notes are complete and that work is finished at the end of the day.
The same way it is hard to imagine a world without the internet, cell phones, cars or an MP3 player most coaching groups we speak with can’t picture practicing without a practice management software system for support. If you are using a variety of separate programs to manage your office so far and have not recently investigated how a fully functioning paperless system can help you now is the time.
Dr. Meinhofer is a customer sales representative for Integrated Practice Solutions, the makers of the ChiroTouch Chiropractors Software ; a complete practice management software system designed to make your job easier and your patients experience better.