Buying cloud-based software? Ask these 8 questions

Buying cloud-based software? Ask these 8 questions

If you’re shopping for cloud-based medical billing software, the good news is that you are spoilt for choice. Maybe you’re transitioning from a paper-based medical practice. Or you’ve outgrown your current digital system. Wherever you are in your digital transformation, there are some specific factors to consider before purchasing cloud-based medical software.

Why all the fuss? Surely medical billing software should simply keep track of practice finances – money in and money out? That is true but in addition to accounting for the Rands & cents, the right cloud-based billing solution can also help you to improve efficiency & boost practice productivity. Not to mention support communication between the practice & your patients.

So, how do you know that you’re getting all of this out of an off-the-shelf cloud-based medical billing solution? The fact is your practice has unique business & financial needs. To help you define and meet those needs, we’ve collated a list of 8 questions to ask a potential (or your current) technology partner. By vetting your options against these questions, you’re not only ensuring that you get the most value for your money, but also that you choose the right fit for your medical practice.


1. How user-friendly is your cloud-based medical billing software?

We say it all the time, but it remains true: software is only as good as its user. It’s easy to get swept away by sophisticated functionality & a host of novel features but if it’s not easy to use, it’s of no benefit to your business. Now, most providers will tell you that their systems are user-friendly but very often, what a developer of medical billing software considers easy-to-use, is not user-friendly at all for you or your staff.

Specific questions to ask about usability:

  • Has the system been designed with input & guidance from clinicians?
  • How much training is necessary to get staff up-to-speed and using the system quickly?
  • What support do you offer should myself or one of my staff members need it?


2. How does your cloud-based medical billing software automate admin?

One of the immediate benefits of good, cloud-based medical billing software is that it automates routine tasks. While this admin is necessary, it generally takes up a lot of time & resources. The provider you’re talking to should have an in-depth understanding of what these tasks typically are & have the appropriate automation functionality as part and parcel of their software. Think about the admin tasks that are the most routine and time consuming. Ask your provider how their software can reduce or eliminate these tasks.

Specific questions to ask about automating admin:

  • My staff spend too much time checking patient benefits & available funds. Does your software automate patient benefit checks?
  • My staff spend too much time calling patients to remind them of their appointments. Does the software automate patient appointment reminders?
  • My staff spend hours reconciling RA’s line-by-line. Can your software auto-reconcile eRAs?


3. Does your cloud-based medical billing software provide reports that I can use to improve my practice’s performance?

Most medical billing software offers some level of reporting capabilities, but very few offer a complete view of your business. Or if they do offer detail, the reports themselves are unnecessarily complicated & unusable. You should be able to easily generate at-a-glance reports that provide key insights into 3 critical areas of your practice – operational, financial, & clinical. If you can’t use these insights to plan and take the appropriate action, you’re likely to see a negative impact your practice’s success & profitability.

 Specific questions to ask about reporting:

  • Can I generate operational, financial & clinical reports using your software?
  • Are the reports easy to access & understand?
  • Do your reports show trends month-on-month?


4. Does your cloud-based medical billing software integrate with your Electronic Medical Records (EMRs)?

Systems that don’t ‘talk’ to each other can ruin any plans you have to streamline & optimise your medical practice. Think about the typical patient consultation – you take clinical notes & create billing instructions before sending them to your staff for processing. Logging in and out of two different systems is tedious and a waste of time. It’s crucial that your cloud-based EMR can securely share data with your medical billing software to avoid additional admin and potential capturing errors. In other words, avoid standalone software at all costs.

Specific questions to ask about integrating systems:

  • Can your medical billing software easily integrate with my electronic clinical notes / EMR system?


5. Does your cloud-based medical billing software allow patients to schedule their own appointments?

Booking appointments should be simple & easy for patients. By allowing patient to make their own appointments, saves you the admin burden, cost & staff resources. Secondly, it improves the patient experience. Medical billing software that offers an online patient booking platform is a simple but effective way to attract new patients & retain your current ones.


Specific questions to ask about patient-initiated appointment booking:

  • Does your medical billing software offer an online patient booking platform?
  • Does the booking platform integrate directly into the practice’s diary?


6. Is your pricing straight-forward?

Before committing to a particular cloud-based medical billing system (and technology provider), be sure you know the true cost of purchasing and using the solution. Providers often charge a very low fee per claim sent, but charge for separate licensing fees. Or they charge a fee every time you want to check patient benefits or automatically reconcile an eRA. These additional charges add up & leave you spending far more than you bargained (or budgeted) for. Get a full understanding of software costs, including what functionality is charged separately, before you sign up.

Specific questions to ask about the system’s pricing:

  • Are there any additional costs outside of the quoted price?
  • Are automated tasks such as benefit checks, SMS patient appointment reminders & eRA reconciliation included in the pricing?
  • Is support included or charged separately?


7. Will you be charged extra for system upgrades?

When it comes to medical billing software you always want to be using the latest version of the technology. Software updates are to be expected & ideally, your software package should include system updates at no additional charge. That said, some companies charge for updates to software so be sure to ask the question.

Specific questions to ask about system updates:

  • Do you charge for software updates?


8. Does the system help my medical practice communicate with patients?

One of the benefits of the right medical billing software is that it’s easier to communicate important messages with your patients. The system already stores your patients’ contact details & it should, with the click of a button, be able to send information & reminders to patients about changing operating hours, new services available, appointment reminders & more.

Specific questions to ask about communicating with patients:

  • Can I send bulk &/or customised SMSs to patients using your software?

Lastly, what’s most important to remember when you’re shopping around for cloud-based medical billing software is that you’re not just choosing technology. You are also choosing a technology partner who you can trust to help you run your practice.  Over 5000 private medical practitioners have chosen Healthbridge as their technology partner to achieve maximum profitability & efficiency at their practices. If you would like to speak to a Healthbridge Business Consultant to find out how we can help your business, click here.

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