Medical software platforms can come with an overwhelming number of features. Not every practice needs every bell and whistle, but there are some medical software features that almost every practice should have:
On the PMS side of medical software, appointment scheduling tools are fundamental to streamline your front-office staff's calendar-related tasks. Appointment scheduling features can also expedite intake and registration in ways not possible with traditional paperwork.
Although appointment scheduling is primarily a PMS tool, you'll also see it on the EMR side of most medical software platforms. Your medical software's appointment scheduling tool should let you see your daily appointment schedule and appointment types. It should also display your patient's status and location within your facility (or which facility they are scheduled to attend). Some medical software allows you to track patients right down to the specific exam room or piece of medical equipment, as well as to check them out when their encounter is complete.
Billing and Claims
The PMS side of your medical software tool should be able to post charges and create claims based on your EMR data. It should also have built-in ICD-10 and CPT coding libraries, alongside automatically generated E&M codes, that your billers can use.
The best medical software platforms should clearly indicate the patient and care provider tied to the claim, as well as the total claim value. Your software should also include claim-scrubbing tools, and many platforms have tools for handling rejected or denied claims as well. Another critical tool we looked for in our reviews is insurance eligibility verification. This tool allows you to check whether patients' insurance policies on file remain active and up to date as soon as they are scheduled. The best medical software allows you to check this information en masse.
Charting and Note-Taking
EMR software should make it easy to take notes during encounters and add information to patients' charts, whether you're typing or using hotkeys or voice-to-text. Your patient charts should clearly show the patient's vitals, current medications, recent appointment history, medical history and other basic information. They should also let you easily jump to other tools, such as your e-prescribing suite.
In your EMR, you should see numerous templates you can use to take notes during patient encounters or add important information to patient charts. Most importantly, these templates should be extensively customizable. You should be able to modify them based on the appointment type or your preferred note-taking method.
Your chosen template should give you a quick view of the most important information for your encounter and fill in chart fields as needed. If your template isn't working for you in the moment, some medical software platforms will let you tweak them right as you take notes.
Medical software customization also extends to PMS reporting. Many PMS providers offer hundreds of customizable, filterable financial reports – in fact, we'd suggest not choosing platforms that offer little to no customization on the reporting side.
Did you know? Customization is key for both EMR and PMS. Every healthcare organization has its own workflow, and medical software should be flexible enough to accommodate each practice's unique needs and preferences.
E-Prescribing and Labs
Your medical software should make electronically prescribing medications a breeze. It should also give you the option to review your patient's entire medication history. Most EMR platforms even flag potential drug interactions or medications that could trigger a patient's allergies.
Several medical software platforms also include tools for electronically ordering labs and bloodwork. These platforms typically integrate with leading lab providers such as Labcorp and Quest Diagnostics, though some of our best picks lack this capability. These picks make up for this gap with the vast majority of their other features.
No two medical practices use exactly the same set of software platforms, but practitioners often need to communicate with one another. Interoperability features ensure that no information gets lost or misinterpreted in transmission between disparate systems. They also allow instant provider access to a patient's medical data.
Interoperability is also fundamental to getting your vaccine and immunization data into the CDC's Immunization Information Systems. The Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs also have several Meaningful Use standards that practices can and should achieve through interoperability measures.
Many medical software companies include a patient portal with their PMS offerings to expedite patients' ability to book and modify appointments. Through these portals, patients can also request medication refills or message your front-office staff for assistance.
Similarly, your front-office staff can use this portal to send patients their registration and intake forms, billing statements, and payment requests.
Performance Management and Reporting
The best medical software platforms include customizable reports that can help you view and analyze all kinds of performance data. You can filter your reports based on numerous kinds of information, such as provider, payer or location. With most platforms, you can also modify the period over which the information is collected and export your reports in several file formats.
As telehealth becomes increasingly important in modern healthcare, you'll want to make sure your medical software includes plenty of telemedicine tools. Ideally, your telehealth platform will fully integrate with your EMR and PMS for easy note-taking and scheduling.
In some cases, your patients won't have to download separate apps to start telehealth calls from their phones. This convenience may be useful to keep in mind as you browse medical software options.