If you own a medical practice, you already have a tough job providing the best possible healthcare to your patients. Add to that the demands (and sometimes confusion) of government regulations and insurance red tape, and your day is pretty full. Yet the modern medical practice also faces a dizzying array of electronic and software tool choices. What’s the difference between electronic medical records (EMR) and practice management software?
Electronic medical records have been standard practice for a while now, slowly replacing paper-based records. There are both benefits and downsides to this digital shift. On the plus side, electronic records make it easier for medical professionals to share important data, like referrals or radiology images, and are more portable and accessible than paper-based records. Electronic records are also more legible and reduce the number of medical errors. They’re easier to update, easier to annotate, and have done much to standardize forms and terminology.
At the same time, EMR requires greater security, and the amount of stolen medical data has increased exponentially since EMR became standard practice. Medical records are big business for hackers, meaning that practices using their own EMR standalone systems are entirely responsible for security and keeping up with Health Information and Accessibility Act (HIAA) regulations.
Like it or not, electronic storage of medical records is now a government mandate. Any practice expecting Medicaid or Medicare reimbursement has been required to use them since 2014. This, in addition to the benefits of keeping electronic records in comparison to paper records, has pushed most medical practices to adopt some form of EMR in the years since.
EMR Software Function
Typical EMR software solutions allow a practice to store patient charts, clinical data, and medical histories. They allow you to attach treatment codes to a patient’s bill to make it easier to generate prescriptions and invoices.
Some software solutions can also provide doctors with information that supports their decision making using analysis of historical data. Perhaps the key feature of software-as-a-service EMR, as opposed to standalone systems, is that it offers HIAA compliance tracking so a practice can be certain all records are kept and shared in compliance with government regulations.
EMR Software Limitations
Typical EMR software comes with some serious limitations. EMR software is heavily focused on patient health records. As such, these software solutions don’t offer help in managing a practice, organizing staff files, or generating reports about the overall health of the practice.
EMR isn’t designed to help with administrative and office work, and adopting a new EMR system is always a hard time for any practice as everyone gets used to new ways of inputting information or charting patient data. It’s a useful tool, but it has a very specific function: to responsibly document and store patient medical information.
Understanding Practice Management Software
Practice management software has a broader purpose than EMR. Good practice management software includes EMR, but it goes a step further and is designed to help a medical office deal with the day-to-day clerical work involved with running the business.
PM software stores patient information and keeps a practice in compliance with HIAA regulations. It offers regular security updates and the expertise of IT professionals for confidence that patient data is secure. It helps a practice manage workflow, keep track of general documentation, facilitate communication with patients, and can generate reports around financial statistics, patient demographics, and more.
PM software can also automate the billing and collection process, offer insight into staff productivity, and free up practice owners to spend more time with patients and less time with paperwork.
EMR vs Practice Management Software
The simplest way to sum up the difference between EMR software and PM software is that EMR is patient-centered while PM software takes a broader view. In some ways they are similar, but there are key differences to know about.
Both EMR and PM software rely heavily on automation. They both allow a medical practice to collect patient information at just one point in the life cycle of the relationship and then access it regularly whenever necessary. Both also save time and effort over manual paperwork tasks.
EMR is a tool used primarily by doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals. Front-end staff are less likely to use it since there are few reasons for them to access a patient’s medical history. On the other hand, PM software can be used by everyone in the practice.
It is equally useful to the doctor checking a detailed medical history, the front desk attendant seeking insurance information, the office manager keeping an eye on tasks and staff productivity, and the marketing partners seeking to understand where things can be changed to improve efficiency and profitability.
Making Your Choice
There are significant differences in the focus and functionality of EMR software in comparison to practice management software. One prioritizes record-keeping while the other focuses on the efficiency and profitability of the entire practice. Fortunately, it’s not necessary to choose between the two. When you choose the robust PM software offered by Crystal Clear Digital Marketing, you get all the functionality of EMR software as part of your PM software solution.
The Social Patient Center
The social patient center is designed to be the ultimate solution for the modern elective medical practice. It combines the record-keeping powers and HIAA compliance features of EMR software with tools to run day-to-day operations integrated with marketing and lead generation features. The result is software that streamlines your operations across the board.
Some Key SPC Features
Keep Track of Important Tasks
Part of running an efficient medical practice is keeping your staff efficient and understanding which tasks take the most time and which of your staff are best suited to a particular job. The task management features of the SPC allow you to easily create follow-up tasks, monitor task histories, and stay on top of everything that’s happening for maximum efficiency.
Quoting, coding, billing, and collections are some of the most time-consuming tasks for any medical practice. While EMR software generally includes some billing help, there are few options as feature-rich as the Social Patient Center. The SPC billing module has everything you need to quickly generate quotes, efficiently add codes and produce bills at the time of service, and track usage and collections.
The module goes a step further by integrating credit card processing, making it convenient for patients to pay immediately. It also offers features that empower you to automatically offer loyal patients everything from special packages to loyalty rewards. You can customize these so they make sense for your practice and appeal to your patient demographic.
Get a Bird’s-Eye View of Your Practice
Because the SPC keeps track of patient records and histories, it’s a powerful repository of data you can use to understand the whole of your practice. Without compromising patient privacy or HIAA regulations, the system will gather and anonymize data to generate reports that allow you to see everything you need to know to make data-driven decisions and understand the true financial standing of your practice.
You can track marketing dollars to see where they’re working and where they’re being wasted. Check on leads and referrals and find out where they’re coming from. Keep tabs on your financial stability regularly with a big-picture view and, when necessary, drill down to account for every dollar with more detailed reports.
These reports will even give you insight into staff productivity so you can see where their time is being put to good use and where it’s being wasted.
The calendar management tool that SPC offers allows you to automatically send appointment reminders to patients and then tracks them throughout their visit. Using the calendar will reduce no-show and cancellation rates; but it can track more than just patients.
Use your powerful calendar to track rooms, equipment, and individual providers, even if you have multiple locations to keep track of. The SPC has all the functionality of EMR software as well, allowing you to be sure your records are patient-centered and in compliance at all times. With the SPC, you can make your practice run more efficiently, stay in compliance, and improve the patient experience at the same time.
Collaborate With Digital Marketing Experts
There are powerful digital marketing tools in the Social Patient Center, and you can make the best use of them when you partner with Crystal Clear Digital Marketing. We have years of experience helping medical practices around the globe Find, Serve and Keep patients.
We stay on top of every digital marketing trend so we can give the best consulting advice for your practice and help you develop marketing strategies that work for you.
Get the Best PM Software for Your Practice
If you’re looking for quality software that will make your practice more efficient, reach out to Crystal Clear Digital Marketing today and ask about the Social Patient Center. While you’re at it, let us show you how our marketing solutions can transform your practice into the profitable patient care center you want it to be.