Traditional paper billing is becoming less common as medical service providers are switching to online billing and paperless medical practice. After moving their practice to in-server software, many medical practitioners are taking their software to the cloud using medical management software.
The Limits of Paperless Practice:
Currently it is not possible to go completely paperless in Australian medical practice. Most areas of medical practice can minimize paper. Paper must still serve as the medium of communication between practitioners, hospitals, labs and funding bodies in Australia. Paper-light may be a better term for what is possible.
What can be moved online? Realistically, the following:
- Billing and receipting including Medicare.
- Letter management.
- Clinical notes.
- Appointments and procedure booking.
- Test ordering.
- Incoming documentation from referrers and other sources (that don't have legal ramifications).
Advantages of Limited Paper Practice:
When doctors say they are going paperless they usually mean they are going to scan all incoming documents into a practice management system (PMS) which will systematically sort the documents. They will eliminate or minimize filing cabinets. This level of paper reduction will mean they
- Can access documents from anywhere. This is a major advantage of paper reduction. Clinical information can be instantly available whenever a decision has to be made.
- Can secure information. The data kept in offsite servers (or in the cloud) is immune from destruction from building damage or file cabinet theft.
- Can submit accounts electronically. This offers quicker turnaround. Medicare online bulk bills are usually paid within 36 hours. No postage is needed.
- Can communicate with colleagues and patients with email, SMS, and sometimes with visual conferencing. Under current laws, medical information and documents cannot be transmitted electronically unless it is encrypted.
The Cloud-Based medical financial management platform:
The increasing cost and time devoted to data entry is a major source of stress and expense among medical practitioners. Often doctors feel they devote so much time to necessary record keeping to deal with payors and compliance needs that they have measurably less time to spend with patients. In many cases the complexity of medical record keeping is part of what draws doctors away from private medical practice and into hospital practice or large corporate practice.
The manual entry of practice revenue and the entry of balance sheet data into accounting systems is vital for effective management and for business compliance. Yet, this is costly in terms of labour costs and time. Costly and time-consuming also is the reconciliation of practice bank accounts with recorded receipts and the regular splitting of doctor billings into practice share, facility fees and doctor share for contracted doctors.
The online accounting program digitally reconciles bank statements with the recorded transactions that are automatically entered in real-time. This reconciliation can be very difficult to do in a manual accounting framework.
Income deposits are automatically receipted into six practice bank accounts:
- Medicare payments and DVA Payments: batch payments received from Medicare online.
- Merchant terminal settlements: credit card and HICAPS settlements.
- Bank branch deposits: cash or checks.
- Health Fund payments: for claims through electronic channels like Eclipse.
- Other less regular payments: electronic fund transfers, Bpay and others.
The medical financial management platform supports activity-based accounting" to categorize costs and revenue.
Cloud based financial management systems and office management PMS systems can be accessed from anywhere with an internet connection. Your office no longer needs its own large capacity server hardware to handle large data files that are always upwardly scalable. There is no longer a need for software licenses, support services.
Security of medical data is a high priority concern. The current level of security in the cloud system is now considered more secure in many cases than an in-house server thanks to redundancies built into the systems. The cloud host takes care of the time-consuming upkeep of virus signatures and security patches allowing your IT staff to focus on professional activities.
Surgical Partners offers intuitive financial management software built for medical practices, manage accounting reconciliation and doctor revenue.