Electronic Health Records

Adoption & Implementation News

63% of practice management software purchases are replacements

By Jennifer Bresnick

- EHRs aren’t the only piece of health IT getting a makeover in a large number of healthcare organizations: providers are currently ripping out and replacing practice management (PM) and revenue cycle management (RCM) software in a bid to modernize their infrastructure and meet the challenges of ICD-10, accountable care, and compliance with other regulatory initiatives, including meaningful use.  According to a new survey by Software Advice, 63% of providers looking to purchase PM or RCM products are replacing a current package, while first-time buyers are focused on efficiency and integration with their EHRs.

ICD-10 is weighing heavily on the minds of providers, with nearly a quarter citing the new code set as the primary reason they were considering replacing their PM and RCM software.  “Compliance with the new code set is a major driver not only of practice management purchases in general, but specifically of replacements,” said Melissa McCormack, an analyst for Software Advice.  “Despite the implementation deadline having been extended to October 2015, we’re seeing practices give a lot of thought to preparation, and they’re realizing the software they use will play a major role in their own readiness.”

Twenty percent of participants in the poll noted that their current PM and RCM systems were outdated, mirroring findings from Black Book Rankings earlier this summer, and some were no longer being supported by their vendor.  Instead of struggling on with inefficient, glitchy, expensive, and cumbersome systems that require too much time and effort to complete basic tasks, providers are looking to modernized, integrated packages that harness the power of the cloud.

Eighty-eight percent of providers who expressed a deployment preference said that they would turn to web-based systems over local servers, and mobile support was a top-requested feature for nearly twenty percent. “We’re hearing from smaller practices that they value the low up-front costs, as well as not needing to maintain servers and dedicated IT staff,” McCormack said. “Additionally, buyers appreciate the remote access options afforded by cloud solutions. Some buyers even seem to conflate ‘cloud’ with ‘remote access’ and ‘mobile access,’ even though those features aren’t unique to cloud-based products, suggesting these are the features of cloud-based software they are most concerned with.”

softwareadvice

Above all, however, was a thirst for integration.  Four in ten providers wanted their PM systems to mesh with their EHRs to complete charting and billing in the same application, and they’re willing to scrap their current clinical systems in order to achieve it.  Other items on the wish list include computer assisted coding functionalities to help tackle ICD-10, automated eligibility inquiry checks, reporting capabilities, and automatic appointment reminders for patients.

“The trend of PM buyers looking for robust EHR integration grows more pronounced each year, and shows no signs of tapering off since EHR meaningful use requirements increasingly require physicians to utilize charting, billing and scheduling in tandem,” McCormack says. “Vendors who can offer seamless integration between these applications will have a clear advantage over those who cannot.”

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