The case for computerising your practice administration and finances is overwhelming.
Let me be blunt: any consultant running a private practice with annual revenues of more than £50,000 should be using some form of practice management software.
Most of the consultants I know would be the first to admit that they’re not businessmen; they’re too busy being doctors. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course – I’m sure that’s exactly how your patients would want you to be – but it still surprises me how many consultants have never even heard of integrated practice management software, let alone considered using it. The benefits are numerous, obvious and immediate – and yet I still meet consultants who rely on ancient physical filing systems and ledgers.
Practice management software will save you money, paying for itself in months. It will improve the quality of care you give your patients. It will make your practice administration much more efficient. It will reduce stress and aggravation. And it will free up your time and your practice manager or secretary’s time to focus on what really matters: looking after your patients and generating more business.
Once consultants take the plunge and implement practice management software, the two most common reactions I hear are: ‘I wish I’d done this years ago!’ and ‘You’ve revolutionised my practice’. And yet some still hesitate – let’s look at the most common reasons why.
- Cost – this is the easiest concern of all to dispel. Practice management software will pay for itself within six months to two years, depending on how much you already use computers. Your invoicing and credit control will become much more efficient, with improved cash flow and fewer bad debts. And the time it takes to prepare your year-end accounts will fall from many hours to just a few minutes.
- IT literacy – you might be worried that your computer skills aren’t up to scratch, but you really needn’t be. In my experience, the vast majority of practices are completely self-sufficient with just three hours of training and a couple of support calls. Even if it takes you longer than this to get up and running, at PPM we provide unlimited training until you’re happy.
- Security – it’s only natural to be concerned about the safety of confidential patient information and your practice’s financial details. So we put four levels of password protection in front of your data if it’s held on a local drive – and you also have the option of encrypting your data. The software features an in-built backup system to reinforce whatever local backup arrangements you make. Hosted solutions are even more secure – and save you money on computer hardware and maintenance too.
Relying on the knowledge and efficiency of a secretary or practice manager keeps many practices ticking over perfectly well. But it’s a delicate balance that depends too much on that one person being on top of everything. If they become overwhelmed or they decide to leave, the whole practice can suffer. And one person spinning many plates isn’t the most reassuring foundation on which to build an expanding practice. If you have growth plans, you need a management system that can grow with you.
There’s a PPM practice management software solution for any sized practice, from smaller practices using just one computer to larger ones with their own local PC network. And for the ultimate in flexibility and security, our hosted service enables you to access the system at any time from anywhere with an internet connection.
Practice management software streamlines the crucial processes that underpin any working practice. The information needed to keep on top of patient care and practice finances and administration is securely stored and available within a couple of mouse clicks. There’s no need to go hunting through complex filing systems, no more call-backs, no piles of Post-its.
And once your administrative functions have been streamlined, you can expand your practice with confidence, secure in the knowledge that the systems you’ve set up can handle anything you can throw at them.
That was certainly the experience of Tony Bernstein, practice manager at 78 Harley Street, a flourishing multi-disciplinary practice with 10 consultants working from two locations – as well as some home working.
He said: “We’ve used PPM software since around 2000 and we’ve been very impressed with it from the outset. It was easy to set up and it’s moved with the times – keeping pace with developments in technology, with changes in medical practice and with the requirements of medical insurers. It makes patient information easily accessible, which frees up our time to focus on our patients and building the practice. One of our doctors alone has added 6,000 patients since 2005 and the system has coped easily.
“PPM software is very reasonably priced and the support we get from them is exemplary too – they even found us someone to service our computers. You can’t fault them really. I think PPM is as good as it gets within this area and we fully expect it to take us forward as the business expands further.”
Tom Hunt is the managing director of PPM Software Ltd (www.ppmsoftware.com), providers of ‘PPM’ – Private Practice Manager, a fully integrated practice management solution used by the Nuffield Group, BMI and Spire hospitals, as well as numerous private practices.