Unlike EMR (Electronic Medical Records) software, 99% of all American medical practices already have some form of practice management software (PM) in use. Scheduling date books have been long since replaced by PM software in the majority of practices for some time now. According to Jeff Baker, practice management typically involves a combination of scheduling and medical billing software. Both help the practice run more efficiently by managing patient information and quickly submitting insurance claims on behalf of the patient. While PM and EMR software can be used individually, the two software programs make the perfect pairing to help the clinic operate with speed, accuracy and ease.
While it is true that EMRs manage patient information, EMRs and PMs actually store two categories of data for the same patient. Practice management documents patients’ contact information, demographic data and insurance details, while an EMR generally documents solely medical data. Integrating the two software systems creates a simplified workflow for the physician and staff. “The big advantage to integrating PM and EMR software data is that it allows the two systems to talk to each other,” explains Baker. “When a diagnosis is put into the EMR by the doctor, it can then go automatically into the PM system so that the biller can see the diagnosis and use it to submit the insurance claim.”
Combining practice management with the EMR software keeps all the members of staff connected within a practice by providing an unbroken flow of information. According to Baker, the biggest advantage of integration with an EMR is that it helps tie in all 3 elements of the typical medical office – the front desk, the clinical staff and the billing staff in the back. For instance, let’s say the front office updates the patient insurance and address. The mid-office (clinical staff) sees the updated information and orders a lab, while making sure it is sent to the correct lab company based on the patient insurance in the PM. Once the patient has been seen, the back office reviews what the medical staff has done (as entered in the EMR) and can ensure all charges are correct before submitting the claim to the appropriate insurance company for payment.