A new survey conducted by a leading practice management software review site, Software Advice says that majority of medical practices are now replacing their existing software which manages the billing procedures. The recent change in the U.S. healthcare system is the main reason cited for the replacement. Software Advice regularly interacts with practices seeking the right practice management software, and 385 of phone interactions with practices looking for practice management software during Q1 2014 were randomly selected for this survey.
According to the survey, 55 percent of the software buyers were already using commercial practice management software in their practice while 8 percent were using practice management software along with paper or other manual methods. This means 63 percent of buyers were replacing their existing software as they were unsatisfied with it for some reason or other. Around 54 percent of these buyers represented solo practices while 32 percent were practices with two to five doctors. Though the buyers represented a wide range of specialties, mental health (25 percent) and chiropractic (16 percent) practices comprised the larger group.
Top Reasons for Replacement
The major reasons buyers cited for replacing an existing practice management or billing system were:
- The most common reason was that the buyers were not confident that their current system would be ready to comply with ICD-10 code set in October 2015. Around one-quarter of buyers cited ICD-10 coding compliance concerns.
- Another reason is to get prepared for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) 1500 claim forms that went into effect on April 1, 2014.
- Many buyers point out meaningful use as a reason for the replacement drive since the government program provides financial incentives to physicians who adopt certified electronic health record (EHR) technology. Though it is not technically a regulation, many practices adopt meaningful use to avoid monetary penalties.
- Around 20 percent of buyers said that their system was outdated and in some cases was no longer supported by the software vendor.
- Around 17 percent of buyers found their current solutions too cumbersome they took too much time to complete standard tasks, required many clicks, or were difficult to navigate.
There were several other reasons cited by the rest of the buyers looking to replace existing software such as improving organization or efficiency, lack of features/functionalities with the current system, current system too expensive and so on.
Preferences of Buyers
The survey also revealed what buyers looked for in the new system while replacing their existing system. The most wanted utilities are as follows.
- Web-based Solutions – Though 69 percent of buyers did not state a deployment preference, 88 percent of buyers who requested a particular type of deployment wanted to evaluate web-based systems. Several practices said that their current on-premise set-up was problematic. Multiple buyers cited not wanting to maintain own servers or problems associated with their local servers led to inaccessibility of their current on-premise management tools.
- Integrated EHR and Billing – Nearly 40 percent of buyers prefer practice management software integrated with EHR. It is mainly because using separate software can result in complexities that an average practice is not equipped to handle. The buyers who represented ‘Integrated EHR’ category were looking for a brand-new, all-in-one practice-management-plus-EHR solution. About 70 percent of buyers looked for solutions that provide both billing and scheduling functionality as well.
- Mobile Support – Around 20 percent of buyers wanted mobile support. In most cases, the buyers specifically mentioned that they wanted to operate their practice management systems using an iPad or tablet. There were occasional references to smartphones also.
The other most commonly requested features included coding assistance (automated suggestions or checks for CPT as well as ICD codes) and claim scrubbing (automated validation of the codes used before submitting them to payers). Automated eligibility-inquiry checks, robust and customizable reporting capabilities and automatic appointment reminders for patients were other requested features.
Whether they are replacing old software or buying new practice management software, it is very important to check whether the system is ICD-10 ready, web-based, integrated to EHR and has mobile support.