Free Online Medical Billing Software - Is this possible? Find out what the real story is behind these offers of Free Medical Billing Software.
What's The Real Cost?
Web based online medical billing software services may claim their software is free. They can say this because the user is paying for the services, not just the application. Some may say they are free but they require setup fees, monthly maintenance fees, web portal fees, patient statement fees, paper claim fees, clearinghouse fees, etc. As you can see these fees can really add up. If you have more than one provider, there may be other fees. The fee schedules can get very complicated and add up fast.
So asking the vendor how much the software costs may not give you an accurate idea of realistic costs. You really need to communicate to the vendor what services you want, and find out what the cost of these services and their associated setup fees are.
Make sure you accurately estimate the "real" cost of free online medical billing software by estimating the quantity of items that are charged on a per item basis. For example, if you plan on using the patient statement feature and you anticipate sending 200 patient statements a month, if a service charged 25 cents plus postage per statement, this adds up to $138 a month for statements.
Many of the practice management systems are also starting to offer EMR (Electronic Medical Records) capability - of course for an additional charge.
Free Trial Period
Most PC and server based software vendors do offer free trial versions of their software available to download for demo. These usually work on something like a 30 day trial period before requiring a license purchase.
Most software vendors are more than happy to provide a potential customer a trial version for use so they can become familiar and comfortable with the software. The vendor knows this is a great opportunity to demonstrate all the neat features of their software.
They know the amount of money most customers will eventually spend on installation, support, maintenance (upgrades), and add-ons can be substantial. They may even provide a basic free online medical billing software (or stand alone version) with limited capabilities. The "gotcha" is the customer will have to eventually purchase other necessary or desirable features.
Quickbooks has a similar approach - they offer a free limited version of their product because they believe in it and know most customers will eventually upgrade. They offer a very good product and know if they put it out there for people to try, they will see how valuable it is and upgrade.
Office Ally Free Online Medical Billing Software
A company called Office Ally offers a free online practice management application called Practice Mate. I haven’t used Practice Mate but have heard from others who have used it and it appears to provide the basic practice management tasks and looks to be a middle of the pack performer with regard to features and ease of use. That's pretty good for a free offering. But as I've learned with paid applications, there are always compromises regardless of the medical billing software application you select.
Office Ally also offers free Clearinghouse services and I've heard very good reviews of their services. They allow claim submission of CMS-1500, UB04, and ADA claims using your existing software, or their free online medical billing software Practice Mate. No contracts, set up fees, free training - great deal for free.
They are able to offer free service since they are reimbursed by the insurance companies - as are all clearinghouses. But Office Ally elects not to charge providers or billing services.
PracticeSuite is another free practice management and medical billing software. They offer unlimited electronic commercial claims. PracticeSuite is a good way for medical billers or a new practice to have a good practice management software without cost. Additional services and features can be added as needed for a very reasonable cost. Its web-based so you don't have to worry about backups and software maintenance.
Traditional Offerings Now Online
Today even some of the better known stand alone PC and Server based applications are being offered online. The two applications I am most familiar with, Lytec and AltaPoint, are both offering some online solutions. Lytec is offering the use of Lytec Revenue Management for "free" but you still have to have the Lytec application. Of course there is a catch. You have to sign up for their RelayHealth clearinghouse which they say is worth up to $1200. So this is another case of free online medical billing software - that isn't. However it does appear to be a very worthwhile and capable product.
One of my other favorites, AltaPoint, is offering AltaPoint Online for as low as $79 per month. I'm sure this is probably the bare bones price without clearinghouse and other service fees. But it's still very reasonable when you consider the initial setup cost for a practice management system and the ongoing costs of software and server maintenance and upgrades.
If you've spent any time looking for medical billing software applications, you're probably overwhelmed at the choices. I would recommend asking other practices or billing services (where you know someone), what software they use, and if they are please with it. When you end up with a short list, you can visit their website and download their free online medical billing software demo. Most all reputable vendors offer a demo version. If not, I wouldn't go any further.
When I was first looking for a medical billing software several years ago, I came across a few free online medical billing software programs. They were very simple and didn't have a good user interface. Also support was non-existent - you were pretty much on your own to solve any problems. I notices that most vendors who offer free online medical billing software just offer complimentary limited functionality software.
You would probably have to cobble together everything you would need for an effective practice management system that offers patient and insurance billing, scheduling, and claim management. In the end you would probably spend more time and effort that it's worth than to just select a reputable software vendor with good support - unless you have an IT expert readily available.
So next time you see a vendor offering free online medical billing software, remember to ask what services are really included.
Free Online Coding References
Here's some information on free references for finding CPT and ICD 9 codes. These are some online medical coding resources from reputable sites that can be very helpful if you're just trying to do a quick search for a CPT or ICD-9 code.
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