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Practice Management Systems – An Overview

A practice management system is a software program designed to enable multiple aspects of your business to be administered from within one system. Most hearing aid dispensing businesses use multiple systems to keep track of various aspects of the business. For example: hearing aid fittings are held on Noah, scheduling is held on Outlook, Google Calendar or a similar diary too, stock control usually exists on a spreadsheet or in a notebook and invoicing and financial control may use QuickBooks, Sage or one of many available small business accounts packages.

Why should I consider using a practice management system?

One of the biggest problems when using multiple systems to run a business is the amount of duplication involved. Think for a moment, how many times and in how many places do you enter the details of a new client? There are also those instances where you have other staff members who record data in different places and in slightly different ways making it difficult to find a specific client, appointment or hearing aid. All of this takes up your most valuable of resources, TIME. Having the ability to find information and control your business, or at least several elements of it, from a single platform across multiple locations or computers enables you to not only make the most of your time and run your business in a more efficient manner, it also helps you to provide the highest levels of customer service to your clients and ultimately increase the success of your business.

Considerations when looking at a practice management system?

1.   Decide what it is you need and want from a practice management system

It is recommended that you work with your team, if applicable, to create a specific list of needs and wants. Once you decide exactly what your system is required to do, you can more accurately explore the available options to determine which system best meets your specific needs.

2.   Investigate available solutions

When researching available practice management systems be sure to review online demonstrations, contact the supplying company and speak to sales representatives at conferences and contact hearing care professionals already using the shortlisted systems to learn how it works for their practices and the likes and dislikes.

3.   Check out associated costs

As well as the actual costs involved in purchasing the initial software package be sure to investigate the costs involved with training, Support and Future Upgrades. You should also consider whether you want to pay for the system in one invoice or would you prefer to pay for your system on a monthly of quarterly basis possibly even considering the inclusion of a service or maintenance agreement.

4.   Cloud Based or Local?

One of the most important considerations when looking at practice management systems is whether or not you want or are happy to have your data stored locally on your own PC or on a secure cloud based server or storage location. You should give this area some serious thought, not only for your personal preference (its my data and I want to decide where it lives) but also geographically, if you are not able to get a stable internet connection in all locations will this cause you problems when seeing clients.

5.   Once you have decided on a system make a plan.

Consider how you will integrate your chosen system into the practice and work with your system provider to establish a timeline for installation. Remember that it may take some time to fully integrate your chosen system. It may be worth setting some initial goals while at the same time working with your system provider to set future targets for introducing some of the other elements. Remember the better you plan the integration and installation the smoother the transition will be and the sooner you will receive maximum benefit from your new system.

6.   Consider software integrations.

Some practice management systems may be able to integrate with software you already use in your practice, such as accounting packages like Sage or QuickBooks or database systems like NOAH. Be sure to investigate which systems you have and if they can integrate with your chosen practice management system as it could save you purchasing unnecessary modules. By using an existing package your staff training requirements and support costs may be reduced. If you are unsure if your chosen system can integrate with your existing systems you should contact the supplier of your chosen system and ask them for confirmation.

7.   Expect and ensure training.

This step is crucial! Even the best practice management system won’t help you reach your goals if you and your staff are not well-trained in how to use it. Plan training for your staff to learn the system, and reach out to the software suppliers training team to arrange training sessions for new staff members. Online tutorials, Webinars and Remote training sessions are just a few ways that training can be conducted efficiently at times more suitable to your business and minimise disruption to your practice.

Choosing a practice management system is a decision that can have a significant impact on your practice. Having the right system in place is one of the most important things you can do to help you and your team provide the highest quality patient care.

What is available and how can I decide which is the better system for me?

There are a number of practice management systems available today and each system offers its own unique features. Click on the links for a brief summary of some of the systems available.  Please note this information is provided by the companies themselves, not by BSHAA and note that this is not an exhaustive list and is not intended to be the sole source of information for you to decide which system, if any, you should consider but it should be of help.