Best Medical Billing Software

Searching for the Best Medical Billing Software can be overwhelming. My experience finding the right affordable Medical Billing Software.

Ah – that’s the magic question – What’s the best billing or practice management software?

Ask 10 people and you’ll probably get 10 different answers. I saw a good quote not long ago about medical billing software that was something like:

“Practice Management Systems are like noses – Everybody’s got one”

Important Features
Some of the features I’ve found important in searching for the best medical billing software is the capability to service multiple practices, have different fee schedules, select your own clearinghouse, and have customizable reporting features.

Ease of use is also important when you’ve got a lot of claims or patient data to enter. Having a medical claim software that’s efficient and minimizes the keystrokes and mouse clicks to enter data is really appreciated. If you’re only submitting a few claims a day this isn’t as big a deal.

My Experience
When I was looking for the best medical billing software, I demoed several to find the best medical billing software. It seemed like after a while they all start looking the same. Yes there were differences in look and feel but they all performed pretty much the same basic functions. What I really wanted to know is what it is like to live with the software on a day to day basis and what kind of support do they offer. For me that’s hard to do with a demo.

The only way to really answer this is from the experience of those who use a company’s software on a daily basis. Would they buy it again? What problems did they have? What features are most important? One thing that was important to me was using software that was widely used. That way there would be a large user community and knowledge base to learn from others.

For our business, we ended up with AltaPoint client-server with which allows access by several users. I also use Lytec client-server. So you ask how did you end up using two different software systems on two separate servers. It’s a long story that has to do with client preferences. Suffice it to say both applications are very capable. I have found that working out problems with our clearinghouse is easier with Lytec. I also think Lytec has more reporting options than AltaPoint.

We experienced a lot of difficulties upgrading our AltaPoint for the NPI capability in 2008 and didn’t get much technical support in resolving. I felt like we were basically on our own to resolve after installing the upgrade. We eventually worked through it on our own. A good software distributor can help you with these types of issues – but you are going to pay for it to. That’s why for our next practice I will seriously consider using a web based medical billing software.

Lessons Learned
I reached a conclusion from my experiences dealing with servers and software upgrades – We really don’t want to be in the software and/or server business. We’re in the medical billing business and that’s what we want to concentrate on. We’ve spent too many hours and too much money dealing with servers and software updates and virus protections, etc. Not to mention the interruptions and headaches that comes with software updates. They never seem to be as clean as advertised.

That led me to consider online medical billing software. The service I’m most impressed with is some of the online medical billing software providers like Kareo, Collaborate MD, Advanced MD, etc. It’s appealing to me to pay a reasonable monthly fee for software as a service that can be accessed from any PC. You pay a monthly fee that varies based on the services and support you need – anywhere from $69 and up per month per provider – depending on the software provider.

I really like providers that price their service per provider instead of per user. That way you can have access by your employees or the practice office for no additional cost. Kareo’s service also includes clearinghouse and electronic remittance (EOB’s). Many of them you can export your data in standard file formats if you ever decide to cancel – so your practice data isn’t held hostage. My concern is that you can’t select your own clearinghouse – it’s integrated with the software. But I guess that’s the compromise for having the integrated features they offer.

There’s some other providers listed on our Cheap Medical Billing Software page.

Consider Data Migration Options
Data migration is something to think about when selecting the best medical billing software – even web based. Make sure the medical billing software has the capability to export database files in a neutral format. That way if (or when) you change to a new software you have the option of importing the data from your old system.

Most software vendor’s databases are proprietary so the data exported from the old has to be converted to a format that can be imported into the new software. If you have someone perform data conversion for you, you can expect to pay $1000 and up as this can be a labor intensive process and depends on the number of records. Many billing services or practices prefer to re-enter patient information instead of going through the conversion process.

Technical Support
Technical support is very important when making a software decision. This is needed the most during installation and set-up and upgrades. This should be offered as part of the purchase price.

I’ve also learned from experience the importance of good technical support when upgrading our software. When we upgraded our AltaPoint in 2007 for NPI compatibility, we had a lot of problems. We couldn’t submit claims for over a week. I was disappointed with the tech support (or lack of it) we received during this upgrade.

Choose Your Own Clearinghouse
For a PC or client/sever software, make sure you can send claims to the clearinghouse of your choice. That way if you are not happy with your clearinghouse service, you can easily change. Some software vendors are cheaper up front, but they require you to use their clearinghouse – that’s how they make up for lower price.

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