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22 Oct 2016

 “We are a mid-size company offering therapy and rehab services. We are considering whether a Practice Management Software will be useful to us and whether we can afford it. Currently, we use a combination of paper-based files, Google, Outlook, MS Word on our local network, where we also store reports and other documents. We use QuickBooks for Accounting. Our session notes are done on paper template forms. We have just started to scan and store these forms on the server. Oh, we also use the HCAI website to submit plans and invoices. What we do now works fine although an increasing number of our competitors have invested in a PMS Solution. Can we afford a Solution and how do we benefit?

There are several important considerations here. Allow me to expand on four areas: affordability, efficiency and flexibility, data integrity and business intelligence.  

Affordability

Currently, you are not paying for a Practice Management Software (PMS) but you are paying in several other ways. Your staff enters the same information in multiple places, some as many as five times. For instance, you enter the client info into Excel, Google, Tracker, HCAI and QuickBooks. In a good PMS system, you will only have to enter your client information once. Here is a comparison of time entries:

Selected Work Areas (Monthly)

Existing system

PMS Solution (single entry)

100 clients (each entry takes 60 seconds)

8.3 Hrs

1.7 Hrs.

HCAI: 25 plans and 100 invoices

29  Hrs

20 Hrs

HCAI Tracking

16  Hrs

5 Hrs

QuickBooks

8.3 Hrs

1.0 Hr

Total Hours

61.6 Hrs

27.7 Hrs

Monthly Savings

33.9 Hrs

 

       HCAI applies to Ontario only

Monthly savings = 33.9*$20/hour = $678.00 

The above assumptions suggest that in 4 selected areas of work, implementing a single-entry PMS Solution could save the company approximately 34 hours or $678.00 ($20/hr) each month. Additionally, there would be savings in areas of document storage, clinical notes, scheduling, etc. Could these savings justify the investment in a PMS Solution? More than likely. But allow me to look at some other equally important considerations.

Efficiency and Flexibility

A web-based PMS Solution provides you with a new level of operational efficiency, accuracy and flexibility, as well as, the ability to attract and retain great employees.

  1. All of your information could be stored in a single location that is automatically backed up.
  2. You could work from any location.
  3. Your web-based PMS will give you a larger geographical footprint, with more business opportunities.
  4. Access to their clients’ information has empowered your service providers while providing them with increased flexibility.

In summary, you are in the healthcare industry where great employees matter and where employment costs account for more than 80% of your expenses. Your ability to attract and retain great employees or consultants is influenced by the environment you provide. As new, more technologically advanced graduates enter the workplace, flexibility and efficiency are important considerations. Additionally, every hour you save on support or admin trickles directly to your bottom line.

Data Integrity and compliance

The use of multiple and disparate software programs to manage clients provide limited opportunities to enforce proper data integrity and compliance, especially in light of the new Health Information Protection Act, 2016 (HIPA) passed by the Ontario Government. First, data entered in multiple programs vary in accuracy, consistency, rules, format, etc. Thus, quite often, incorrect or incomplete information are sent to clients, submitted to HCAI or used to generate reports from which business decisions are made. Second, disparate programs have no way to protect the privacy of information stored. Anyone with access to the computer may   access personal information of clients, theirs’ and others.

In comparison, a PMS Solution enforces data integrity rules to ensure that all data inputs are complete and conform to a consistent and valid format. Additionally, a PMS Solution provides robust role-based security controls that enforce user-rights. Equally important, a PMS Solution uses an audit trail system to monitor and track changes to clients’ records, thus providing a record of changes and by whom.

While HIPA 2016 stops short of requiring a SQL Server based application to meet new regulatory compliance, it proposes to hold the business accountable for security breaches. Suffice to say that good practices in areas of data integrity and regulatory compliance are common sense approach to securing your business.

Business intelligence

In today’s increasingly competitive business environment, good business intelligence and timely business reports are critical management tools. While manual reports are quite doable, these take too much time to pull together from multiple sources. The time required to prepare these reports also limits their frequency and usefulness, especially given that the formats have limited manipulation.

Conclusion

Healthcare administration is changing rapidly with the advent of web-based PMS Solution and new compliance rules.  PMS Solutions have changed the ratio of support staff required in health care companies by automating standardized tasks, integrating data across programs and improving data collection and analysis. At the same time, PMS Solutions have come down in price while expanding options and applications. SaaS pricing has allowed small and mid-range companies to invest in PMS solutions, once only affordable to large companies.

In todays’ increasingly complex and competitive health care environment, Health Care companies must be efficient, flexible and robust. In considering the cost of replacing the patchwork of disparate Solution programs with an integrated web-based PMS solution, companies must look beyond the monthly fees. Equally important are the non-financial benefits of a PMS solution. Good data integrity, security and compliance practices are added insurance to your business. The ability to generate high quality and timely reports is icing on the cake.

A good Practice Management Software enhances the successes of any therapist!


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