February 25, 2019 | 4 Min Read
6 Reasons Why Free Clinic Management Software Costs More
Free is a very enticing word. A free sample of cheese at a local supermarket might seem logical, but have you ever been tempted to try a free clinic management system?
Here are 6 factors to consider when selecting your clinic management software:
1. Patient Data
Patient data is invaluable, which means that the security behind it should be invaluable as well. Any free clinic management system should adhere to HIPAA and HIPA compliance. These security qualifications are not easy to come by.
Be sure that the web host has an SSL certificate if the software is cloud-based. Often free cloud-based software has been built with lean development practices that may not use this security detail as it adds additional costs to the vendor. SSL certification ensures that data files can be digitally bound with a cryptographic key directly to the organizations’ details, seen in the HTTPS protocol from web server to browser.
Inside of the clinic management system, be sure that different users see only what patient data they should have access to. If the software doesn’t allow you to turn on and off functionality and set security levels for users, you should think of where your clinic might be a few years down the road with the turnover and the addition of administration staff and practitioners.
Think ahead with the end in mind by asking the software vendor how to export patient files, appointments, and transactions. All of these files should come in a readable format, such as CSV or XML to ensure that you can actually use the files. Other formats can often require a software engineer to extract the data into a readable format, or not have any logical formatting meaning that the data is useless. You should ask the free software vendor if there is any cost to exporting your patient data. Often there are no fees upfront, but as your business grows you may need to migrate to a new clinic management system and then there might be extensive fees to export your data.
The worst-case scenario is that the free software vendor was priced to get numerous users onboard and then end up running out of investment backing funds, while failing to reach their user base goal. The vendor folds and they take the patient data with them in the process, leaving your business scrambling to find a new clinic management system.
2. Upgrades and upcharges
Free software now often means that there are hidden costs further down the road. This can often be seen in the price of additional modules that need to be added to complete vital processes in any business. Be sure to ask the vendor on how they plan to sustain their business model, and if there are any costs if your clinic is to add more users, more patients, more clinic locations, and more data.
Lastly, before entering vital information into a software system, get a reassurance that there will be no major shifts in pricing over time. Even a slight shift in the pricing model of the software can cost your clinic more than it had initially sought.
When software is free, vendors tend to use an ad module to generate revenue (such as Google and Facebook). In turn, your practitioners are constantly be sold to. A software vendor should be there to add additional value to your clinic through online webinars, ebooks, training, and new features – Not just to sell to your practitioners.
Do you think that ads belong in a professional clinic management software? Would you want your practitioners seeing pop-up ads when creating a patient’s chart or prescribing an exercise treatment plan? The answer is probably no.
One key factor to becoming more efficient in the use of clinic management software is getting your staff educated on the workflows in the system. If the vendor doesn’t offer training for your admin staff and practitioners, you will be responsible for training all your staff. If you don’t know the ins and outs of the system, you might not be teaching the right workflows to your team, in turn costing your clinic more.
Now think about your clinic in the long term. Will the software vendor be able to grow with increased healthcare legislations, insurance policies, and implement new innovative features if they do not have a sustainable business model? Clinic management software should grow with your clinic to enhance its workflows day in and day out.
You want a software system that can grow with your company. Opening another clinic location might mean that you need to create a new management system. Practitioners would need to be replicated, system settings set up, patients logged again, and yet the systems would not communicate with each other. Be sure to ask the software vendor before beginning to use the free clinic management system if you can incorporate multiple locations and users all in the same system.
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