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Medical Billing Software Options in South Africa

What Are the Medical Billing Software Options in South Africa?

This is the digital age, and even families now use computers to manage their accounts. It is, therefore, hardly surprising that healthcare professionals in South Africa also rely on specialised medical billing software to simplify their accounting tasks. Managing the finances of a busy hospital or private practice is, of course, as essential a part of healthcare as attending to the welfare of patients since, without efficient handling of the former, the ability to provide such care is likely to be short-lived. However, whereas hospitals and larger clinics invariably have a number of staff devoted to financial management and other administrative tasks, the average GP or private specialist is unlikely to enjoy such benefits and will be required to make some alternative arrangement.

It is no longer feasible to perform such tasks with calculators and hand-written ledgers, and even standard accounting programmes cannot adequately manage the medical billing function. Instead, specialised computer software tailored to meet the prevailing requirements in South Africa offers the most efficient solution for the private healthcare practitioner. It is a solution that can be implemented in one of three ways.

The first and most obvious of these is for a practice to purchase a suitable package and to manage its financial matters in-house. Invariably, however, with ownership come certain responsibilities. In this case, it could mean that the practice might also be required to purchase or update its hardware to ensure that it is compatible with the chosen package. The next thing that will need to be considered is the ongoing maintenance required. Who will be responsible for activities, such as backups, upgrades, and perhaps setting up a disaster recovery option? In practice, owning one of the medical billing software programmes available to practices in South Africa could necessitate hiring an IT specialist, which in turn, will add to their overheads. Understandably, ownership is not the best option for everyone.

To avoid such responsibilities and the associated cost, some independent practices prefer to assign responsibility for managing their accounts to a third party. In exchange for a monthly fee, either fixed or based on the number of patients or the number of transactions, the staff of specialised bureau will now handle all of the medical aid claims and patient billing, employing its own software, which will be fully compliant with the conditions for healthcare accounting in South Africa.

For the practice, this means that both its financial affairs and system support will be managed off-site, and it will be kept informed by means of periodic financial statements, allowing its members to focus fully on the core responsibility of patient care and to use the time saved to accept additional patients, and so, grow the practice and increase its monthly income. It also means its personnel are relieved of some of the more onerous tasks, such as issuing demands for late payments from patients or, even worse, instituting legal action in order to recover payments from any who may have defaulted.

Once again, outsourcing the medical billing function to be processed by a bureau with its own dedicated software is not a choice that will suit every healthcare practitioner in South Africa. Despite the strict security measures employed by a reputable bureau, some healthcare professionals will still harbour reservation with regard to the wisdom of entrusting confidential patient data and information about the practice to a third party.

While this may not be a concern for everyone, others might prefer a system that allows them to keep a much closer watch on the day-to-day financial affairs of their practice.  For those who may be unable to afford to purchase the software or who, for whatever reason, feel that a bureau service does not fully meet their needs, there is a third option.

Rather than buying medical billing software or arranging for third parties to use theirs to manage the task for them, practitioners in South Africa now have the option to access these specialised computer programmes as a service. Immediately, this eliminates any up-front cost and, at the same time, since the programme is hosted remotely on the servers of the service provider, it also eliminates all need for the practice staff to be involved in its maintenance.

No special hardware is required to access its various functions and data as the client/server application is accessible via a standard internet browser allowing use of the medical billing software from anywhere in South Africa at any time.

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