Medical Practice Management Software to Help Your Routine Tasks
What is Involved in the Management of a Medical Practice?
Despite its essentially altruistic goals, it is easy to forget that the day-to-day operation of a private healthcare establishment must also be based on sound business principles. While many of the requirements of private practice management are common to most businesses, there are also certain responsibilities that are exclusive to the healthcare professional. To ensure that they meet all of these obligations as effectively as possible, some doctors may decide to appoint a dedicated business manager, while others may be inclined to tackle the task in person; perhaps delegating one or two of the more basic tasks to a receptionist.
Often, the decision to establish a private practice is taken whilst employed as a resident, and is motivated by the need for a greater degree of independence and self-direction, although the prospect of a higher income can also be a driver. There is, however, a hidden downside. Packaged with that desired independence is the responsibility for those tasks, previously undertaken by hospital administrative staff. Experience is essential for the successful management of a private practice.
For doctors, dentists, and other healthcare professionals who are planning to operate independently, and who wish to acquire the necessary knowledge and skills, the Foundation for Professional Development has compiled a comprehensive higher certificate course. Currently offered only as a distance learning programme, it is also open to non-medical personnel who are interested in a career as a practice manager. The qualification is accredited by the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA), and learners are allocated 18 months within which to complete their studies. The award of a higher certificate in practice management is contingent upon continuous assessment and a formal examination.
For the fortunate few who may have accumulated a substantial sum of start-up capital, hiring an appropriately qualified manager to attend to all of the business requirements will obviously be a good move. In the majority of cases, however, getting started is more likely to require the new private practitioner to come to grips with, at least, the more important business tasks as quickly as possible.
Some of these are fairly basic, such as opening a business bank account and registering with the Board of Healthcare Funders of South Africa (BHFSA) to obtain the practice code number necessary to expedite payments from medical aid funds. Attempting to comply with the changing requirements for the submission of claims to the nation’s medical aids is one of the more challenging aspects of practice management. Furthermore, since these payments are certain to represent the bulk of an average practitioner’s income, the submission process is one that needs to be mastered without delay.
To operate at all, it will be necessary to appoint a receptionist and probably a nurse, but to do so, will immediately add the responsibilities of an employer to the existing workload. As an employer, it will be necessary to operate a valid payroll system, and to issue detailed payslips that conform to the current legal requirement. Among the practice management tasks applicable to the payroll operation will be the deduction of the appropriate amount of income tax, together with the completion of the relevant submissions to the South African revenue services (SARS).
Among the more basic day-to-day tasks is ensuring adequate stocks of commonly used medications, dressings, and disposable items, such as syringes and specimen containers, as well as ensuring the various suppliers of these items are paid fully, and on time. Add the maintenance of patient records, which could require some IT skills, and the mandatory reports required by health authorities and it’s not hard to understand why so many independent healthcare professionals are choosing to assign the bulk of these tasks to a practice management software package.
While you could, of course, purchase one, specialised software is often quite costly. Ownership will probably also entail appointing an IT specialist to maintain and update it. Although the product will definitely streamline the administrative tasks, it will also incur additional operating costs, which can be avoided.
Eliminating the need for any up-front investment, as well as all responsibility for hosting the software, attending to routine maintenance and periodic upgrades, as well as conducting regular backups of accumulated data, V Professional Services offers South Africa’s independent healthcare professionals access to a comprehensive practice management application as a service. With just a browser and broadband connection, the bulk of your routine tasks, including claim submissions, collections, and payroll, become faster, simpler, and hassle-free.