It’s important to choose wisely when it comes to selecting a new practice system. The decision may be daunting. There are many products and options to choose from. Choosing Practice Management Software (PMS) is a long-term decision as technology has a growing impact on all types of businesses. The solution needs to be aligned with your current and future needs, it needs to quickly evolve with the Canadian eye care industry, and be able to integrate new features with the changing expectations of customers.
Here are six key questions to ask yourself when evaluating a new practice management software.
- What should Practice Management Software do for the ODs, the staff and patients?
Initially, any new system requires an adaptation. Change management needs to be a key component of the overall project. But once this phase has passed, the PMS should offer you the following:
- Improved efficiency of the staff and the ODs
- Enable electronic communication with patients, suppliers, insurance companies
- Allows you to evolve with the digital needs of today’s patients with respect to communication and online shopping.
- Integration with the clinic’s website for patient oriented applications
- Support the migration to a paperless environment
Optosys, the PMS developed by Optometric Services takes into account all these requirements that will make a clinic both user friendly for patients and more efficient to manage. A good PMS can help attract new patients and improve the efficiency in the clinic.
- What does it mean to get ready for the Clinic of the Future?
Today, you would never buy a smart phone that doesn’t offer you the possibility of taking pictures or accessing the internet. In a PMS, you need to look for a system that will provide online appointment booking, online ordering, KPI reporting and submitting insurance forms for patients online. Supporting text messaging and online frame viewing linked to your existing frame inventory are customer expectations that are emerging quickly and not generally available in older practice management systems.
The first thing a patient wants to be able to do is schedule an appointment at any time of the day without having to depend upon someone answering the phone at the other end. The eBooking module in Optosys gives the patient online access to pre-selected time slots determined by the ODs. When a patient books an appointment, it is automatically updated in the PMS. The patient gets an automated response to confirm the appointment.
People rely more and more on their smart phone for most of their communication. They now want to receive text message whenever possible and many still want to receive emails. For standard communications such as recalls and reminders, your PMS should offer a way to personalize the communication according to the needs of each patient.
Shopping online is now very common amongst every age group. Clinics often lose sales because patients have looked at what is offered elsewhere and have made up their mind even before going in for their eye exam. Being able to display products online is becoming an important feature to capture the loyalty of the patients.
- Is the system customizable?
While most systems are customizable they may not offer the right support. And while it may be tempting to use a new system that replicates old practices, to minimize change for people working in the clinic, a new system should be viewed as an opportunity to re-think how things should be done. This is where the support team that will assist the clinic in its migration becomes very important. You want to be able to take of advantage of all the best practices that have been implemented in different practices.
- Can the support team assist in transferring data from an old system to a new one?
Depending on which older generation PMS the clinic is using, it is usually possible to transfer most the key data needed in a new system. Hence the importance of choosing the right software company that can ensure that the necessary data is transferred, as the complexity of the task can be fairly high. Each system requires a detailed analysis especially if the database has evolved over the years.
- Does the system provide KPI measures?
Aside from facilitating all clinic operations, a new system should provide an easy way to bring visibility to the Key Performance Indicators in your practice. Your PMS should offer an “at a glance” view of the key metrics to track your success and highlight which areas need your attention. Key Performance Indicators are the basis in developing a management dashboard to track the performance of the clinic. It’s very useful for associates who want to have a common understanding of how the clinic is doing and it’s also very useful to establish performance objectives for the weeks and months to come.
- What about the company that supports the software?
A company’s ability to develop and support the evolution of a software solution suitable for the Canadian market is very important in today’s business environment. So many things are changing, it’s important that the development and support team behind your PMS are able to keep up with changes and have in-depth knowledge of the Canadian environment. Look for a software where the development team and support team work together to evolve the software towards the needs in the industry. A team that is focused and passionate about our industry. The track record and the vision of the company is also a key aspect to the decision.
CEO of Optometric Services Inc (OSI). Patrice joined OSI August 2015. With almost 30 years’ experience, he has held several executive positions in management and administration. Patrice is impassioned by the optometric industry, marketing, innovation and information technology.