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Choose Wisely: Understanding Medical Office Software

Finding the right software to run a doctor’s office can be tedious and time consuming: there are myriad options for every task that staff and providers perform. But regardless of the size of the practice or specialties included in it, the best medical office software is the one that works reliably and unobtrusively to organize the practice—allowing your office to function day in and day out with minimal interruptions.

It goes without saying that HIPAA compliance factors into all practice software decisions. In addition, the best medical practice software doesn’t crash frequently, doesn’t demand constant updates, and doesn’t confuse physicians, office staff, or patients. In these respects, the best medical practice management software isn’t much different from optimal software programs in other businesses.

But when it comes to capabilities, healthcare providers have requirements that most businesses don’t. At a minimum, practices need:

  • An electronic medical record (EMR) system
  • Automated scheduling capabilities
  • Revenue cycle management/billing tools
  • Applications to support a social media strategy

Other functional elements to consider:

  • Electronic patient history statements
  • Electronic claims submission, processing, and tracking
  • Posting of electronic payments
  • Customized patient billing
  • Flexible reporting
  • Compatibility with mobile devices
  • Medical lab software

Keep in mind that robust revenue cycle management tools are essential for efficiently managing medical practice administration processes, which enables management to accurately monitor day-to-day operations.

Cost is another important factor to consider. The Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) recently reported that physician-owned practices spent anywhere from $2,000 to $4,000 more per full-time equivalent (FTE) physician on IT operating expenses during the past year than they did the prior year.

Practices spent roughly $14,000 to $19,000 in IT operating expenses per physician each year, depending on specialty, MGMA reported. These include the cost of IT services, such as EMR maintenance and patient portals, and contracted expenses for the repair of practice hardware and software needs.

Fortunately, there is one aspect of practice management that doesn’t have to be expensive. Having a strong online voice is part of your brand, and creating your social media profile doesn’t need to cost a lot. Patients trust LinkedIn profiles more than other social media platforms, and a strong profile can reduce the impact of negative news or physician rating sites.

Finally, providers must remember the importance of balancing the advances that practice management tools have fostered with the increased demands that some of this technology has put on patients. Patient friendliness—that is, a program’s relative invisibility to patients during an office visit—might be the trickiest part of choosing practice management software.


  1. PracticeSuite, “Review of 2017 Medical Office Software,”
  2. CTSGuides, “Medical Office Software Reviews and Ratings,”
  3. com, July 19, 2017, “Healthcare Revenue Cycle Management (RCM) Market To Experience An Impressive Growth By 2027,”
  4. Medical Group Management Association, July 19, 2017, “2017 MGMA DataDive Cost and Revenue Survey,
  5. MedicalNewsToday, June 26, 2017, “The top five social media tools for physicians,” by Lisa Chontos,
  6. com, July 5, 2017, “Hospitals, doctor’s offices have differing issues with electronic records,” by Amy Wallace,
  7. Becker’s Health IT and CIO Review, September 23, 2016, “Opinion: Why physicians should give patients—not the computer—their undivided attention,” by Erin Dietsche,

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