Steps 1 - 3: Get Started
Independent practice brings greater clinical freedom, the chance to spend more time with patients and the chance to generate additional income.
But working outside the NHS also presents administrative challenges which can be a distraction from clinical work and as your practice grows, this will become more time-consuming to manage.
A practice management system developed for a healthcare setting will allow you to manage every aspect of your business from one place, from capturing patient details and appointment scheduling to electronic medical billing and generating management reports which help you keep track of the money you are owed.
Selecting the right product and supplier is more straightforward than you might think. Healthcode’s 9-step guide should help you make an informed decision:
Step 1: Create a wish list
Get staff involved. Consult those who will be using the system, such as your secretary or the person responsible for registering patients and billing about how your practice could be more efficient.
Here are a few areas to consider:
- Capture and store patient details. How quickly can you retrieve a patient’s details and can you be confident that patient data is secure?
- Diary management. If you work in a number of private hospitals and in the NHS, it is more of a challenge to schedule appointments and ensure staff can keep track of your whereabouts.
- Manage correspondence with patients, surgeons and PMIs.
- The medical billing process. How do you create and invoice for your services and keep track of who has paid? Paper billing is time-consuming and most PMIs now prefer to receive bills electronically.
- Financial analysis and reporting. Can you keep track of the financial performance of your practice?
Step 2: Set your budget
How much can you afford to spend on the system and ongoing technical support, including back-up and disaster recovery?
Think long-term. A scalable solution is a cost-effective way to address the current and future needs of your practice, bearing in mind that you will need to keep pace with developments in the private medical sector. If you buy a software package you will need to factor in future upgrade costs. Alternatively, you could subscribe to an online practice management solution for a monthly or annual fee which would enable you to take advantage of new features as they come available.
It’s also a good idea to ask your accountant about the tax implications of your investment.
Step 3: Decide the implementation timescale
Set a clear target for project completion and beware of drift. Consider the project as a series of tasks, set a deadline for each, and assign responsibility.