Feel like you’re playing tug of war with your PM software? A lot of ECPs painstakingly research, purchase, and implement what they think is the “perfect” PM system. Just as their salesperson told them, they expect it to supercharge their business operations, efficiency, and profitability. And it can, but not in the way you might expect.
PM software won’t actually manage your practice, and it can’t replace the people who do or the processes they use. Any software it is only as good as the staff and processes behind it. If your practice is suffering, the functionality of your PM software is an easy scapegoat that can distract you from deeper issues. Take a look at these five examples:
- It cannot save you money. PM systems offer a dizzying array of financial reports, and place the hard data you need to gauge your profitability at your fingertips. It will not teach you how to read these reports, help you identify troubling or positive trends, or make financial decisions for you (like calculating the break-even point on a prospective equipment purchase).
- It will not make your staff more productive. Almost all PM systems promise something along the lines of “freeing up staff to do what they do best . . . care for their patients.” This assumes that you were providing awesome care in the first place. Yes, PM systems will automate and streamline certain tasks. Whatever you and your staff do with that extra time, well, that’s up to you.
- It cannot make your check-in process “better.” It can automate it via a kiosk or online check-in, making it faster and easier (at least for your front desk staff). But it will not welcome your patients to the practice or teach them how to use the patient portal. It will not be the reason that first-time patient becomes a regular.
- It cannot prevent your physicians from running behind. PM scheduling systems keep everything in your practice from happening at once, especially across multiple providers and locations. They’re also intuitive and pretty to look at. But only an experienced practice manager can choose an optimal scheduling strategy after carefully considering your practitioners’ work styles and your practice’s financial goals.
- It won’t eliminate conversations about your patient’s insurance coverage. Your PM system can automatically check a patient’s eligibility for insurance benefits. But it won’t help them understand their coverage, financial responsibility, or explain why the frames/lenses they really want aren’t covered. You need front desk and back office personnel who are skilled in customer service to do that.
A shiny new PM system will not fix every problem in your practice (and it could make some of them worse). It is simply a database filled with, well, data. Effective practice management means finding, hiring, and keeping the right people, thorough training that never really stops, and providing staff with the tools (like the right software) to do their jobs. PM software is the icing on the cake.