One of the major selling points for chiropractic practice management software packages is the ability to synchronize all the parts of the DC’s practice–from patient encounters, to billing, to scheduling–in an effort to improve office efficiency and effectiveness.
While these aspects of practice management software are definitely beneficial, an office that is efficient and effective is pretty well meaningless without the ability to customize the software to meet the current and future needs of each individual DC’s office.
No two practices are alike
The truth is that no two chiropractic offices are exactly alike. One office may be run by a DC working as a single practitioner, while another may be run in conjunction with a massage therapist and an acupuncturist. Each office has different needs from practice management software. The solo-practice DC may not need to integrate billing from other practitioners, while the group practice DC needs that capability. By the same token, the solo DC does not need software with the capability to juggle multiple practitioner schedules, while such a feature is a requirement for the DC who operates in a multi-faceted practice.
No two patients are alike
The electronic health record (EHR) is perhaps the most important area of practice management software that requires the ability to customize features. Certainly, there is a great technological advantage to an EHR system. Information can be stored and shared more efficiently than with the traditional paper file system.
However, one of the problems with EHR is its desire to force patient encounters to fit into a particular format that is easiest for the EHR program, rather than making the EHR such that it can encapsulate each patient as a complete, complex human being. The average patient who comes to see a DC for treatment likely has several conditions (some of which may be chronic), may be on many medications, and has likely undergone numerous treatments and/or procedures elsewhere. This adds up to a very complicated snapshot of just one patient. Multiply that by several hundred patients, each with equally complicated histories, and it becomes easy to see where the standard EHR system fails.
This is where the ability to customize EHRs becomes so important. A good system will include text boxes where DCs can fill in freehand any important notes about the patient’s treatment, history, or progress that cannot be captured through standard data entry within the individual EHR. In some cases, when previous healthcare providers have sent over paper copies of patient records, the EHR should have the capability to electronically capture this information and populate it correctly into the individual EHR data fields.
Practice management software systems can do a great deal to boost productivity and increase the DC’s bottom line. However, the system should also work for the DC’s office, rather than making the DC’s office work for it. This is why it is so important that these software systems have the ability to be customized for each office and each patient.