Medical Billing Software – 10 Questions To Ask Before Making Your Purchase

Avoid buyer’s remorse. Do your homework before purchasing medical billing software for your practice or billing service. Review and think about these 10 questions prior to scheduling software demonstrations. Make your buying decision based on facts rather than emotion.What are ALL the costs associated with this purchase?When buying a medical billing software system, the software itself is only one of the costs in the total purchase price. Other initial costs include hardware, installation, and software training. Ongoing costs include software upgrades, technical support or maintenance, and electronic claims billing. These costs vary depending on the type of system.Some desktop systems require expensive hardware. Web-based medical billing software has fewer hardware costs but higher monthly maintenance costs. Avoid costly surprises by obtaining all this information in writing prior to making a commitment.Is the software easy to use?A medical office is a very busy place. You don’t have the time to spend on the phone with Technical Support trying to figure out how to bill a claim or reprint a statement. Software should be intuitive and easy to use. Naturally, you have to expect to spend some time learning the nuances of your software, but most functions should be intuitive.How long has the software been in use?I ask this question because, there is no such thing as bug free software. The longer the software has been around, the more likely the bigger defects have been worked out.How long has the company been in business? How many employees do they have?If a software company is too small, they may not have a staff that is large enough to handle big upgrades or unforeseen system problems. The longer they have been in business, the better.What type of software training program does the vendor offer?Online training is best because you can schedule shorter training sessions. Periods of 2-4 hours are ideal for new system users. Avoid the full day, on-site training sessions when possible. They are convenient for the vendor but not cost effective for the practice. The office staff tends to burn out by the end of the day and forget a lot of what has been covered. Most people learn by doing. Don’t schedule your training until you are ready to use your system.How good is the Technical Support?When I first start working with a new software vendor, I pick up the phone and call Technical Support and start the timer. How long does it take for them to answer your call? Also, beware of companies that rely primarily on email and fax support. Software vendors cut costs by handling their technical support this way but it is very inconvenient and time consuming for you.What EHR (electronic health records) software does the medical billing software integrate with?One of my clients decided to buy an electronic medical records software package that did not link to his medical billing software. The salesman told him that it was no problem. They could develop a link for him. A year later, they have no link and his office staff is still entering demographic data into two systems.The best medical billing software is one that has a built-in HL7 link that will integrate with several different electronic health records systems.Does the software address the critical needs of your type of practice?Just because the software works great for Dr. Smith’s office down the street, doesn’t mean it is automatically the right software for your practice. Let’s say Dr. Smith is a specialist and you are a family practitioner. A software feature that allows you to lookup CPT and diagnosis codes by description isn’t all that important to him, but it certainly is to you. Make a list of the features in your existing software that you love, what you don’t like, and what you’d like to have.Expensive software is not necessarily better. It’s a fact that most people use only a fraction of the features in their software. The question to ask yourself, do I really need all the expensive bells and whistles?Keep in mind your most basic features: scheduling, HIPAA compliance, electronic claims, patient statements, Aging Reports. Advanced features will include medical coding software, revenue and insurance denial management, automatic EOB posting, and insurance eligibility.Can you take a test run of the software or is an online demonstration available?Typically, an online software demonstration doesn’t give you the time you need to adequately review a medical billing software system. Don’t be shy about asking for access to a sample database to play with. Some software vendors offer downloadable demos that you can install and try out. If that option is unavailable, find out if there is an office nearby that uses the software and ask the office manager to show you the software. Most people are quite agreeable to do this.Get references.Most people make purchases based on emotion. Salesmen are salesmen and they will offer you the sun, the moon, and the stars to get you to buy their solution. That’s why it is so important to obtain SEVERAL references of practices that have been using the software for at least a year, not just a few weeks. If the vendor can’t provide them, walk away.

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