The Best Medical Practice Management Software of 2020
November 12, 2019
Practice management software is indispensable to a medical practice's operations. Whether it's helping staff quickly register new patients and schedule appointments or creating claims and submitting them to payers, practice management software streamlines day-to-day operations and keeps you updated on the financial performance of your practice.
Choosing the right system for your practice, therefore, is critical. It must integrate with your electronic medical records (EMR) system and patient records. Many software providers offer integrated solutions that include both a practice management and EMR component, but that adds a deeper level of complexity to an already complex decision.
To make your buying decision easier, Business News Daily researched the leading practice management software vendors. Here are our best picks.
Our Best Picks
Editor's Note: Are you looking for medical practice management software that can help your office run more efficiently? Fill out the form below for more information from our vendor partners.
An adjustable dashboard provides an overview of their operations, such as billing and appointments. There are no add-on costs or implementation and training fees. The company offers an integrated practice management and electronic health record (EHR) system.
AdvancedMD Practice Management
The company maintains hundreds of integrations with labs, pharmacies, and hospitals nationwide, as well as with third-party applications like marketing tools and payment platforms. AdvancedMD is more expensive compared to other programs we reviewed. It charges add-on costs for certain elements like advanced reporting and telemedicine. However, its base package is quite powerful and should suitably meet the needs of most medical practices.
AdvancedMD offered exceptional customer service. Their reps answered our questions in detail and sent a wealth of additional resources after our call.
AdvancedMD offers one-on-one implementation support through a dedicated account manager, as well as U.S.-based technical support.
CareCloud's price is above average compared to other software we evaluated, but its features and usability make it a great choice for small practices needing to implement a software solution quickly.
Beyond billing, athenahealth includes full implementation support and training, as well as a one-on-one dedicated account manager for the life of your partnership with athenahealth.
Greenway Health Intergy
Greenway Health offers excellent customer service and includes the cost of implementation and training in the subscription price. Its rates are higher compared with other programs; however, you're not paying additional costs for implementation and training, and taking that into account, Intergy's price is relatively competitive with other leading vendors we evaluated.
What Is Medical Practice Management Software?
Medical practice management software covers all the major administrative functions of a practice. It also integrates with EMR systems to share important information, such as patient insurance details or diagnosis codes needed for medical billing. Medical practice management software is designed to streamline the day-to-day operations of a practice, as well as enable closer communication between healthcare providers and patients.
Here's a closer look at some of the key functions of a medical practice management system.
Patient registration: When a patient first comes to the practice (or schedules an appointment,) the front office needs to capture their information – their name, age, address, insurance information and more. Some practice management software allows you to scan driver's licenses and insurance cards directly into the system, auto-populating many of the required fields. You can generally customize the fields within the software depending on the information you want the front office to capture.
Scheduling: Once a patient is registered in the system, they can be added to the schedule at any time. Typically, scheduling tools resemble a calendar. Many practice management software tools are flexible and can be adjusted to suit your needs. When scheduling a patient, you usually have the option of selecting the appointment type, date and time, provider and location. You can also run an insurance eligibility verification check to ensure the patient is still covered for your practice's services.
Billing: Billing is one of the most important functions of practice management software. It is also why it is so crucial that the integration of both the software and the practice's EMR system is seamless. After a doctor sees a patient, charges are captured and must be coded into claims. Then, through the practice management software, the claims are scrubbed for errors (and revised, if necessary) before being sent through a clearinghouse to the appropriate payers. If the claim is accepted, you will be paid electronically. If not, your staff can manage denied claims through the practice management software as well.
Patient portal: A patient portal is a useful component of a practice management software. (It's not included as a standard feature for all software programs, however). Providers can use portals to send and receive intake and consent forms, as well as provide patients with educational materials on medications and conditions. Patients can often request an appointment through the portal and medication refills if needed. Most portals feature a secure messenger so patients can contact the practice with any questions or concerns.
- Reporting: Practice management software also typically includes a reporting suite that provides an overview of patient information and financial data. The best software programs offer a wide range of customizable reports along with analytic tools that help improve aspects of the practice. (Some vendors offer consultation services as well.) Reporting keeps providers up to date on key performance indicators, ensuring that the practice is profitable while helping providers deliver the quality care their patients have come to expect.
Practice management software goes hand in glove with an EMR system. The information shared between both systems can help streamline all practice operations and give every member on your team access to the information they need, when they need it. That, of course, all starts with choosing the right software for your medical practice.
The Benefits of Practice Management Software
Whether you run a small or a large practice, here are just a few of the benefits that medical practice management software offers.
Practice management software handles scheduling, billing and financial analysis. Uniting these functions within one software application helps your staff become more nimble and organized. Furthermore, many solutions expedite tasks that could otherwise slow down day-to-day operations for a practice. For example, a patient portal takes some of the burden off of your front desk staff, allowing patients to request appointments and submit forms online. Automated appointment reminders reduce the number of no-shows, and insurance eligibility verification eliminates time and runaround in checking to see whether a patient is covered for a provider's services.
Integration With EMR Software
Practice management software and EHRs should work together seamlessly. These two components of your practice's healthcare IT suite need to share a great deal of data, which is why many practice management software companies offer built-in EMR solutions.
Fewer Billing Errors and More Accurate Financial Analysis
If you decide to keep your medical billing in-house instead of outsourcing it to a medical billing service, your practice management system will help ensure claims are submitted to payers in a timely and proper manner. In tandem with a diligent staff, practice management systems can increase the number of claims that are accepted by payers on the first pass.
Staff members can also use the software to respond to denials and rejections, as well as generate financial reports and pull data to analyze your practice's fiscal health. (Note: You'll need a certified medical coder on staff if you bill through your practice management system, especially with the recent change to ICD-10.)
Enhanced Patient Communication
A practice management system can also generate and send patients their balance statements, and predetermine whether patients owe money out of pocket before their appointment, making it easier to collect payments at the point of care.
Already know all about practice management software? See our best picks page to read more about our top selections for practice management software.
How to Choose the Best Medical Practice Management Software
While physicians rarely need to interact with practice management software directly, it is indispensable for office staff. The system you adopt plays a significant role in the success or failure of your practice. When selecting practice management software, keep the following factors in mind.
The cost of any practice management system varies widely. Factors such as the size of your practice, the features you select, etc., influence the cost. Most companies, when you call, will give you a ballpark estimate; however, there can be a lot of hidden costs and optional features that could quickly increase the base price.
When contacting providers, be prepared to relate the number of physicians in the practice, the features you absolutely need, which features aren't essential and how many will use. Obtain a written list of the features you will get with the software and the exact cost of those features before you sign up with any company. Without clear, written confirmation, it's tough to know what features are included in the system, what costs extra, and you might end up paying a lot more for features you could live without.
Ease of Use
Implementing a new system and adapting to it is difficult enough as it is. It's imperative that the people who will use the new software are comfortable navigating it. Consult with your staff and include them in the decision-making process. They should at least be moderately comfortable with the system, and, ideally, the software company will provide training and a company representative who can guide staff through the learning curve and answer any questions your staff has about the software.
Practice management programs are organized differently; for example, some systems use a central dashboard to organize the software's different features, while others have dropdown menus and multiple popup windows. Knowing what layout suits your practice's workflow will aid in a successful transition. Any new system will naturally slow productivity at first, but it shouldn't throw your entire practice into chaos.
Experience with Specialties
You want to ensure that the software you choose is widely used by other providers within your specialty. Ask other physicians you know in your field which programs they use and if they like them.
There are nuances with a specialty medical practice that won't be reflected by a general software program. Talk to the software vendor, ask them about the features that are specific to your specialty that are reflected in the system. Otherwise, you might end up with a barebones system that is not optimized for the functions you require.
Another important consideration when choosing practice management software should be how well it interfaces with the EHR system your practice uses. Interfacing refers to the capability of both systems to communicate with one another and share relevant data. Two systems that interface well can reduce the time involved in entering and transferring data. If you're scheduling patients and recording demographic info, that data should automatically be updated with the EHR system when the patient comes in for a visit. Likewise, after a patient has been treated, the EHR system should automatically transmit the billing info to the practice management program.
Even great practice management software can become a nightmare if it isn't compatible with your EHR. If the two systems can't communicate, your staff will enter and re-enter the same data repeatedly, which takes them away from more pressing tasks.
Reporting and Data Analysis
Besides performing billing tasks well, a practice management system should create robust reports and analyze data, showing you exactly where your practice stands financially. Simply managing your revenue cycle is not enough for your practice to remain viable; detailed reports and analyses go a long way toward helping you improve your cash flow. For example, many systems can tell you which physicians are the most productive for your practice or what neighborhoods most of your patients come from.
By identifying what works and what doesn't, you can keep your practice on a sure-footed path to success and profitability. If your practice management software allows you to electronically share those reports with other members of your practice, that's even better.
Even if the software is incredibly easy to use, there is still a learning curve with any new software program. However, consider the varying degrees of technical aptitude among your staff members. When people are adapting to new software, no matter how intuitive it is, they'll need some guidance now and again. All of our best picks offer comprehensive training, either onsite, online, or both.
As you talk with software companies, ask whether they offer additional staff training during and after the implementation period, and what the costs are for that training. Finally, make sure you receive, in writing, all of the training opportunities the company offers and the cost(s) of that training.
It's inevitable, as with all complex systems, that you will eventually encounter a problem. The provider should be available to answer your questions and help you troubleshoot issues. Further, if an issue arises on their end, you need assurance that they will quickly resolve the problem.
Some providers assign a direct liaison, or account representative, to your practice. Other companies have a tech support call center; however, depending on the issue, it might be more difficult to solve a problem if the support rep is unfamiliar with the setup of your practice management system.
Moreover, it's important to find out whether support is available 24/7 or if you can only contact tech assistance during normal business hours.
A good relationship with a practice management provider is founded on trust. Adopting a new system is a significant investment of time and money for your practice. Before you sign up with a provider, ask the representative to specify the support the software provider offers and any additional services (and costs) that are considered beyond the standard support the provider offers.
Medical Practice Management Software Pricing
Medical practice management software varies in price depending on whether you purchase it as stand-alone software or as part of a larger healthcare IT suite. Some companies have multiple pricing tiers for different levels of service, while others offer a flat rate. Most providers will give you a price quote that reflects the size of your practice, the number of providers (or users, in some cases), the features you need and the scope of your implementation—that's why it's important to know and be upfront when you talk to practice management providers about what your needs are with the system.
Practice management software, much like EMR software, is typically based on a per provider, per month structure, meaning you pay a monthly rate multiplied by the number of providers at your practice. We found during our research that prices ranged from as low as $200 per provider, per month to more than $1,000 per provider, per month.
Many providers offer revenue cycle management or medical billing services in addition to practice management software. Most providers charge a percentage of practice collections, which can range from 3% to 8%. The percentage charged is generally based on your practice's average claims volume, claims value and the complexity of your billing service requirements.
To determine the best medical practice management software for small businesses, we spent dozens of hours researching the top applications. Here is an explanation of our selection process.
Locating the Best Services
To determine our best picks for practice management software, we started with a list of dozens of vendors. We evaluated the pricing, billing, scheduling and financial reporting features of each application as well as user reviews before eliminating some of the companies on our list.
Choosing the Best Services
We then created an extensive list of software providers that included companies we found from our research, applications we were already familiar with and companies that had previously contacted us. We narrowed down this list based on different use cases and criteria, including cost, features and limitations. We studied user reviews, watched tutorial videos, and pored over customer resources offered by each vendor, such as knowledgebases, blogs and guides.
Researching Each Service
Next, we signed up for a trial or demo account and tested the software ourselves. We wanted to understand firsthand how the features work and whether the programs are worth the price. We also wanted to assess whether the software is as easy to use as some vendors claimed. We also took into account patient portals and flexibility of the system during implementation. To further inform our decisions, we contacted each vendor to measure the quality of its customer support.
Analyzing Each Service
Although we started with dozens of practice management software vendors, only nine moved to our shortlist. These included AdvancedMD, CareCloud, DrChrono, Greenway Health, athenahealth, eClinicalWorks, Advanced Data Systems Corporation, NextGen Healthcare and Kareo. Our picks for the best practice management software were AdvancedMD, CareCloud, DrChrono, Greenway Health and athenahealth.
Full List of Practice Management Vendors
Here is the complete list of practice management software vendors we evaluated, including our best picks.
Advanced Data Systems – Advanced Data Systems offers practice management software that can be seamlessly integrated with its electronic medical records system. The software has both essential billing features and scheduling tools. https://www.adsc.com/
AdvancedMD – AdvancedMD is our best pick for all-in-one practice management software because it combines a comprehensive practice management module with a seamlessly integrated, top-of-the-line electronic medical records system. Read our review or visit https://www.advancedmd.com/
Allscripts – Allscripts offers a complete healthcare IT suite that includes practice management software. Its practice management software is suitable for practices of all sizes and hospitals. https://www.allscripts.com/
AltaPoint – AltaPoint's practice management software includes critical billing and scheduling tools and integrates with ElationHealth's electronic medical record system. https://www.altapoint.com/
athenahealth – athenahealth is our best pick for billing tools because it employs a collective rules engine that helps make claims scrubbing more effective by leveraging the experience of more than 100,000 practices nationwide. You can find out more from our review or visit https://www.athenahealth.com/
Azalea Health – Azalea Health offers a cloud-based practice management software that integrates with an electronic medical records system to bring billing, scheduling and charting under one suite of solutions. https://www.azaleahealth.com/
C&S (Provision) – Provision practice management software by C&S Research Corporation can be tailored to suit practices of any size and specialty, as well as automate many key aspects of a medical practice's front office. http://www.csrc.com/
CareCloud – Care Cloud is our best pick for small practices because it provides a highly usable experience with an effective practice management software. You can find out more from our review or visit https://www.carecloud.com/
Clinix – Clinix provides practice management software for both billing companies and medical practices. It is a flexible option that can be configured to suit the needs of a practice or an RCM company. https://www.clinixmis.com/
CollaborateMD – CollaborateMD's practice management software offers effective billing tools and intricate reporting mechanisms that help you track and plan your practice's financial performance. https://www.collaboratemd.com/
CompuGroup Medical – CompuGroup Medical offers practice management software aimed at helping medical practices streamline front office operations with efficient billing tools and easy-to-manage scheduling features in an integrated EHR/PM system. https://www.cgm.com
DrChrono – DrChrono is our best pick for customizable practice management software because it offers significant flexibility for practices of any size, specialty or need. You can find out more from our review or visit https://www.drchrono.com/
eClinicalWorks – eClinicalWorks offers practice management software and an integrated electronic medical records systems through which you can either conduct your own billing or outsource revenue cycle management to the company. https://www.eclinicalworks.com
eMDs – eMDs provides a complete healthcare IT software suite including practice management software, which helps administrators and staff tackle billing and scheduling more easily. http://www.e-mds.com/
GE Centricity – GE Centricity is one of the market leaders in the healthcare IT space, specializing in large enterprise systems and hospitals. It also makes practice management software for medical practices. https://www.gehealthcare.com
Greenway Health – Greenway Health's practice management software blends a wide range of features with flexibility for medical practices of various sizes. Read our review or visit https://www.greenwayhealth.com/
iSalus Healthcare – iSalus Healthcare's practice management software can be integrated with its complete healthcare IT suite. It combines billing, scheduling and the clinical functions of an electronic medical records system. https://isalushealthcare.com/
Kareo – Kareo's practice management software is an intuitive and easy-to-use solution that offers the most essential practice management functions in an inexpensive product. https://www.kareo.com/
MDConnection (La Jolla Digital) – MDConnection offers several different pricing tiers for practices of various different sizes and requirements, all of which are priced at a lower than average rate. https://www.mdconnection.com/
MicroMD – MicroMD offers access to practice management software that covers billing and scheduling, and integrates with its electronic medical records system. The suite is cloud-based and intended for small to mid-sized businesses. https://www.micromd.com/
NextGen Healthcare – NextGen Healthcare provides all components of a healthcare IT suite, including practice management software and electronic medical records systems. https://nextgen.com/
Nuesoft Technologies – NueMD is an effective practice management software appropriate for practices of most sizes. It was recently acquired by AdvancedMD but will continue to operate independently. https://www.nuemd.com/
Open Practice Solutions – Open Practice Solutions offers practice management software with a clearinghouse integration and strong reporting functionality. https://www.openpracticesolutions.com/
PracticeAdmin – Practice Admin offers a number of solutions, including a billing manager and a scheduler, that add up to create a comprehensive practice management software. http://www.practiceadmin.com/
Praxis – Praxis practice management software uses artificial intelligence rather than templates to help physicians and staff with charting, billing and more.Praxis connects seamlessly with its electronic medical records system. http://www.praxisemr.com/
Pro Health Billing – Pro Health Billing's practice management software is focused on the billing aspect of running a medical practice, aiming to reduce denied claims and help you manage financials. http://www.prohealthbilling.com/
RxNT – RxNT's medical practice management software can be purchased as a stand-alone solution or integrated to a larger healthcare IT suite that includes electronic medical records. https://www.rxnt.com/
WinBuilt Software – Docta practice management software by WinBuilt Software allows for unlimited claim submissions and seamless integration with an electronic medical records system. https://www.doctasoftware.com
WRS Health – WRS Health provides fully integrated, cloud-based electronic medical record and practice management solutions for medical practices. https://www.wrshealth.com/
Greenway Health Intergy
AdvancedMD Practice Management
Editor's Note: Are you looking for medical practice management software that can help your office run more efficiently? Fill out the form below for more information from our vendor partners.