How to compare medical billing software. What to watch for in medical billing software reviews. Key points in reviewing billing insurance medical software.
No this isn’t a comparison of popular medical billing software applications. And quite frankly, I’m not about to take on that task because there are so many to choose from. Lytec, AltaPoint, Kareo, Medisoft, MediTouch, NueMD, Athenahealth…. and a lot of names I’ve never heard of.
Desktop or Client-Server
Depending on the configuration (client-server, PC based, etc.) and number of users, you can spend from $1000 to several thousand on a practice management software. The PC or desktop is used by one or few users on only one computer. These are typically the least expensive software.
Client-server software typically requires a server computer running the application in a secure location. The client workstations where individual users access the system may contain client software to accesses the server or utilize Microsoft Remote Desktop. The advantage of the client-server configuration is it allows many users to share the same database. The biggest disadvantage is the cost of maintaining the server.
Cloud or internet-based application service provider (ASP) software is becoming increasingly popular. This type of medical billing software is typically accessed through a browser. The advantage is a lower up front cost and no hardware to maintain, typically just a monthly fee depending on number of providers or users. Security, data backup, and reliability are no longer an issue since the provider houses the application in a secure data facility. The disadvantage for this configuration is the practice database is housed and managed off-site and as we’ve seen with credit card and other personal information, these can be compromised.
I’m becoming increasing sold on online ASP’s for medical billing software solutions. There are several available. AdvancedMD and Kareo are two popular ones. Kareo has good videos showing how their system works.
Compare Medical Billing Software – Important Features
After using several programs in several configurations, here’s what I feel are the important attributes to consider when you compare medical billing software:
- Appointment scheduling
- Create both electronic and paper (CMS-1500) claims
- Are you obligated to their Clearinghouse? Some vendors will price their software attractively low but make it up in the monthly fees required for using their clearinghouse partner.
- Easy to understand interface for entering payments – insurance and patient – and adjustments like write-offs
- Reporting – Determine the data that’s important to you and make sure you can EASILY generate the reports you need
- Password protection – most all medical billing software has this capability now
- Audit features to track who logs in and when
- General ease-of-use. Are the features you plan to use the most easy to find and understand? Can you easily navigate within a few minutes of using
- Do they have a large user base? Are there already many users? The more users the more quickly bugs will be resolved. Also there is a larger knowledge base to draw from
- Are there authorized retailers nearby to provide installation, periodic updates, troubleshooting, training, etc.? Who do you call when things don’t work? The initial cost is only part of it – there is also the cost of ownership.
- Reports – Can you get the information you need? One of the most frustrating issues I/ve had with medical billing software is being able to easily customize reports to get the info we need.
- Is it easy to create and upload electronic claims? Does the software create standard file formats that most of the clearinghouses can accept?
- Ability to electronically post ERA – Electronic Remittance Advice.
- Is it easy to back up? You should back up your database regularly (offsite) in compliance with HIPAA.
- EMR interface capability – Even if you don’t plan on using immediately this is important if you eventually plan to.
- Document or photo imaging for electronically storing documents
Demo Your Favorites
Most reputable software vendors will provide a free demo of there software for you to try – if they don’t I wouldn’t even consider when you compare medical billing software vendors. Actually using the software and talking to other users is the best way to compare medical billing software.
Get Users Input
It’s also important to get the opinion of those who will be using the software such as the billing and coding specialist, office manager, physician, and receptionist.
Check out our Medical Claim Software page for a more extensive discussion on all the considerations when comparing medical claim billing software.
I really haven’t found any professional or trade organizations willing to take on the task of medical billing software reviews because it’s so fast changing and subjective. Be careful of some sites that profess to review or compare medical billing software which are just thinly disquised attempts to sell a particular practice management software. Or they omit some of the most popular and widely used practice management software.
A good free and unbiased resource to compare medical billing software is a website called Software Advice. Their expertise is finding the best software based on a users needs and budget. They provide un-biased free recommendations that can save you a lot of time and effort narrowing down the best solution for your needs. They also have some excellent buyers guides and white papers that are helpful in educating yourself on important features and trends to be aware of.