JUL-AUG 2017

MedEsthetics—business education for medical practitioners—provides the latest noninvasive cosmetic procedures, treatment trends, product and equipment reviews, legal issues and medical aesthetics industry news.

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addition to aesthetic services, look for interoperability with commercial insurers, including on-line preauthoriza- tion from insurers/Medicare when required, and built-in coding, billing and denials management processes. If your practice has a sizeable Medicare patient population, this is particularly important. Look for an upgradeable system that can gather patient data and will satisfy Meaningful Use and the new Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) components. • Connectivity. It is essential that your core system can connect to your practice management system, outside service providers and referring physicians. CONNECTIVITY CONSIDERATIONS As part of the modular approach to IT mentioned above, your practice will benefi t from a core EMR system that can integrate with both internal and external software systems. Some of the key areas where practices need con nectivity include: • Laboratory vendors. Look for a system that offers a seamless, yet secure, interface to your laboratory vendor. The interface should allow the practice to log histology specimens, establish a solid chain of custody, and receive reports back from the laboratory. • Product ordering and inventory. Features to invest- igate include an interface with online vendor tools for or dering and purchasing clinic essentials and the abil ity to manage inventories electronically to reduce waste and shortages. A system that includes auto-replenishment, where you set appropriate inventory levels that alert staff when it's time to re-order is helpful. You will need to fre quently audit and examine those levels in the weeks following implementation to fi nd the correct re-order levels based on usage and vendor delivery times. • Referral management. A robust interface that tracks inbound referrals and manages outbound reporting to referring physicians is critical in building and sustaining re la tionships with referral sources. CONTROLLING COSTS Broadly speaking, you have three options for integrating a comprehensive IT system in your practice. The most ex- pensive is to invest in the hardware and software you need, hire an IT expert, and operate the system yourself in-house. While this may be an attractive option for multi-center, high- revenue practices with deep pockets, this approach is likely beyond both the budget and operational scope of the vast majority of practices. The second option is to work with an equipment man- agement and leasing vendor, who will provide the hardware and software as well as technical support. Practices typically pay an upfront fee followed by a monthly service fee for the equipment and support. A third option is working with a software as a service (SAAS) vendor, where the data is stored to the Cloud. This reduces the hardware costs traditionally associated with the equipment management solution. Ashish Bhatia, MD, chair of the department of derma- tology at DuPage Medical Group in Chicago, switched to an SAAS system. "Traditionally, many electronic systems in medical practices have been either software installed on local PCs or client-server models operating within the practice's local network. These systems are purchased and require periodic updates, which are also purchased and installed on all of the systems," explains Dr. Bhatia, who is also an associate professor of clinical dermatology at North- western University Feinberg School of Medicine. "Now that EMR and practice management software is available through SAAS, the practice can simply pay a monthly subscription, and the vendor provides the software via the internet, ac- cessible from any remote, secure internet connection." After switching to an SAAS system, Dr. Bhatia says he en joys a number of benefi ts, including better cash fl ow man agement, since the practice no longer must make large outlays for hardware and software purchases; constant back- ups that are managed by the service provider; and up dates and new features that are uploaded and available in real time—with no system downtime. Cloud-based systems also allow for unlimited data storage—a signifi cant benefi t in future-proofi ng your IT system. Whichever EMR-centered, IT model you choose, taking the time to consider not only your present needs, but also potential future needs—and how vendors can adapt their systems to changes in healthcare regulations and data op- tions—can help you maintain streamlined operations while reducing ongoing costs and equipment downtime. David J. Waldron is executive director of the Derma- tology Business Accelerator—a business community dedicated to helping physicians develop their leadership skills and business acumen. Contact him at david@ 16 JULY/AUGUST 2017 | Med Esthetics BUSINESS CONSULT © GETTY IMAGES

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