Private Practice Software
Professionals who need an Electronic Health Record (EHR) for a private practice have a number of options, and the trick to finding software that works for the individual practice is settling on one of them.
My advice is to get a list of as many products as possible with a little information on each of them off the web and read it. Then, narrow the field to a half-dozen or so based on initial research and check their web sites out. This can be a complicated matter, what with the myriad of opinions on software out there and the temptation to just buy what your pal Joe uses in his practice. Don't do that. Do the research, or hire a professional (like yours truly) to do the research and the satisfaction level will certainly be higher once the money's spent.
A newsletter I subscribe to from an industry publication had a link to a practice management software package, and I've been threatening myself with tackling reviews of software for solo and small practice software for well over a year, so I took a look.
The product is called TheraQuick, and there's a video on the website that gives a pretty concise overview. As with all overviews, this stimulates questions for me.
StarQuick Solutions is the small California company that manufactures TheraQuick. I was immediately encouraged to see the staff is comprised of varied disciplines, including a rocket scientist, a psychologist, and an expert in software interfacing. Depending on the charisma and personalities involved, there is at a fair chance that the software will be a balance between the needs of the users and a vendor's business realities. I look for a practical development approach that keeps an eye on affordability for elegant features and functionality. That pragmatic statement is all about survival of the current software and the vendor's business.
My overview of the product is positive; however I have almost no substantive knowledge of the company. If I were buying for a solo practice, I'd want to see more of the product and have some in-depth conversations with a couple people at StarQuick. I would like to know how long they've been in business, how many customers they have and to talk to some of those customers. It's not out of line to ask those customers about their relationship with the company, hoping they aren't the programmer's aunt.
Here are the pros and cons I saw in a brief overview:
A lot of good: The software covers a lot of bases, and the more your primary software system does, the less a professional needs to get from some other source.
- Billing, due to insurance requirements, is inherently difficult; a module is included, as well as basic accounting for services rendered and credit card charging.
- The software seems pretty simple to operate.
- I didn't get an in-depth look at the customizing features, but the product enables the user to modify a "Dashboard" to suit their needs; Dashboards are a one-screen view and access point to whatever the user would use most - consumer record access, treatment history, billing, etc.
- Professionals can minimally modify the session note to suit their particular style and needs; I'm not sure how far this goes, but regardless, it's a positive feature.
- Scheduling looks good, and there are a number of similarities to MS Outlook; I like to see all my tasks and appointments for the day, week, and month at a glance, and the product allows me to do this.
- The system can be set up for different office locations for the professional who travels around (there are many folks meeting this description); this is a plus and in some states a requirement.
I’d Like More: Like all software packages, there’s always more work that can be done.
- I'm a stickler for workflow. If the documentation doesn't fit in with the daily work, it creates work because you have to come back and do it later. If, instead of collaborative documentation and treatment planning with the consumer, the professional writes nothing down and makes no follow up steps with the consumer to advance treatment, the documentation becomes an added step in accounting for what happens. I didn't see much attention paid to concepts like these.
- I'd like to see a treatment plan. Now, I've worked with treatment organizations for a long time, but haven't really spent much time in solo practices…perhaps treatment is not planned with the consumer in this environment, but it seems reasonable to me that a treatment plan should be part of working with the consumer to resolve the problem by meeting short-term objectives and establishing roles and "rules of the road" for the treatment relationship.
- I'd like to see a stronger Report Writer…I demand robust report writing capabilities, and as a Crystal Reports writer, perhaps I expect too much. An overwhelming majority of the folks I've talked to over the years about the Electronic Health Record (EHR) really want reports to look a certain, special, individual way. Sometimes that's due to local or state regulations, sometimes a Joint Commission (JCHAO) or other accrediting, licensing or auditing agency; sometimes just because they're happy with a format they've used for a long time. The point is without a very robust report writer, you just can't make the reports look the way important people want them to look.
I think that anybody in the software manufacturing business who can sell their product to 100 people, continue to provide effective support and still grow probably has a product that will work for a bunch more people. Where a number of professionals drop the ball is in investigating the company they will be working with for a number of years. A little research pays off for the life of a practice, which is why busy professionals contact me.