Investing in new software doesn’t have to dramatically change the way medical professionals work, says J.P. Medved, content editor forCapterra.
In fact, J.P. recommends that medical professionals select software that already matches the internal process of their practice, rather than upending their operations.
What new softwarecan do is make medical professionals more efficient in the way they do their jobs, he adds: “Instead of having to wait to get in the office to check a patient’s chart, for instance, a doctor can access the needed information remotely or via mobile.”
We recently checked in with J.P. to learn more about what’s trending in medical software and get advice for shopping for it. Here’s what he had to say:
Tell us about Capterra … what services do you offer?
Capterra is a free online service that helps businesses find the right software, including EHRs, EMRs, Mental Health, Practice Management and other types of medical software. Those looking for business software are able to search Capterra’s more than 300 software categories, read reviews and see ratings free of charge. They are also able to consult with Capterra to find the best-fit software for their business (based on functionality, cost, number of users, etc.). Software vendors wishing to be listed on Capterra are able to fill out a free profile as well.
Why do you think it can be challenging to business owners, nonprofits, medical providers, etc., to track down the right software for their organization? What are the biggest frustrations they have about shopping for software?
The biggest issue isn’t, I think, what most people presume it is, which is a lack of money and time to find and purchase the very best software product. While those issues do exist, they’re emblematic of the deeper issue of lack of knowledge.
Most practices and physicians simply don’t have an understanding of the software market, the many types of solutions out there, how difficult software implementation can be, and some of the very real benefits of adopting software to automate things. It’s difficult to commit to a budget for an EMR when you have no idea how much money that EMR can save (or, unfortunately, cost) you in the long run.
What is the market like for medical practice software today? What’s the demand?
We’re seeing increased demand, if slowly. I think the medical world moves deliberately when it comes to a lot of different kinds of technology (compared to, say, Silicon Valley), and the expense of new systems really factors into a lot of physicians’ plans. However, with Meaningful Use incentives and other big pushes, we are seeing higher adoption. As these systems really start to prove themselves, and especially as smaller practices see the benefit of patient portals and other technology for reducing their workload and improving their patient relationships, this adoption rate will grow even faster.
What types of medical software are practices most interested in right now?
The obvious answer here is EMRs. Not only is their adoption highly incentivized by Meaningful Use payments, but also mandated in most specialties in order to continue receiving Medicaid/Medicare dollars. But aside from that, we’re seeing increasing interest in patient portals, medical billing software (often bundled with larger EMR suites) and medical apps as well.
What sorts of considerations and/or questions should medical practices be asking themselves when shopping for software?
Well, the first, is, “Will we use it?”
If your practice is too set in its ways, or your internal processes are too unique to conform to any existing software, you should address these issues before making any purchases.
After that, physicians should consider how the software will be used. While it’s ideal to find a software that already matches your existing processes, sometimes it makes sense to change how the practice works to be more in line with the order and process the software dictates, as often this adheres more to industry best practices.
What are some signs or signals that a software product or service might not be what you’re looking for?
Most software products will have similar functionality and relatively similar pricing. Where we see the most differentiation is in customer service and commitment to current customers. If you have a hard time getting a hold of sales reps, or getting questions about the software answered, or if the demo the vendor offers doesn’t allow you to go off-script and ask them to investigate/display other parts of the software, these are huge red flags.
Always test out the various support avenues open to you before buying the software: Send an email with a question to the tech support address and see how long it takes to get a response, call in, try the online chat.
How are patient expectations and experiences changing as a result of this software?
It’s actually the other way around, fromwhat we’ve seen. Patient expectations are far outpacing the functionality that medical software offers and medical practices are struggling to catch up, often with mixed results.
Patients these days are used to being able to access their bank information in an instant online or through the smartphone in their pocket, call an Uber and get immediate service, and be able to reserve restaurant tables weeks in advance through an app. They are impatient for medical practices to be able to offer this same functionality with their healthcare data, physician consultations and appointment setting.
From your perspective, what’s the most exciting or innovative software available to medical professionals today? How is it game-changing?
It’s probably clichéd to say by now, but wearables, wearables, wearables. EMR and other medical software that works on wearable computers likeGoogle Glassis a huge potential game-changer.
Hands-free access to patient health data, graphical overlays for training and during surgery, and even just the ability to look a patient in the eye instead of have your head down in a tablet can improve the medical experience for doctors and patients alike and, most importantly, improve health outcomes.