Server-Based vs Cloud-Based Practice Management Systems: Which Provides the Best Security for Your Independent Practice?

Lea Chatham August 25th, 2016

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Cloud-based EHRBy Adria Schmedthorst

When you are choosing a practice management system for your independent practice, you have two main options to consider. Tweet this Kareo story

Your first option is a server-based system, where you manage your patient’s data in-house on local servers, with all of the maintenance, security, and upgrades (both software and hardware) handled by you. Your second option is a cloud-based system, where your practice’s data is stored externally, outside of the office, accessible via the Internet. Each has their pros and cons, and which option offers better security has been a highly debated topic. Let’s take a closer look at this issue.

With a server-based system requiring an in-house server, the responsibility of security falls squarely on you, the provider. Maintaining a secure location, firewalls, and backups are just the start. Disaster recovery plans must also be in place to protect patient data, which could be compromised in the event of fire, flood, tornado, or other natural disaster. In fact, more than 50% of businesses that need data recovery say it’s as a result of a weather event.

Backups for client-server records are also vulnerable to breach in transport to storage facilities. Even worse, server-based systems are often left unencrypted and only as secure as the room where they are stored, leaving them at risk of data compromise or even physical removal and theft. Having your records stored on-site may increase your control over the data, but it also leaves you susceptible to data loss should the server hard drive crash or the data become corrupted. This means that to ensure the security of their records, practices with server-based systems need to maintain an IT staff, including IT security personnel, in order to protect patient data and maintain seamless operations in the event of possible compromises.

With a cloud-based practice management system, all of these issues are resolved. Your practice’s data lives safely in a virtual location. Cloud systems achieve HIPAA compliance through data centers with bank-level security and high-level encryption methods that render data unreadable, even if a security breach occurs. Host companies also have deep technical support available 24x7x365, something most independent practices are unable to afford.

Storing information in the cloud also often means greater protections for practices in the event of a catastrophe, since cloud-based data is safely backed up in multiple locations. If a disaster hits, you can still access your data from any Internet-enabled computer. The practice’s records can easily be exchanged and retrieved. You can contact patients to reschedule appointments and continue processing claims with no disruption to workflow even if your physical location is unavailable. All of this happens without the need for you to remember to backup your data.

A great deal of sensitive data is already stored in the cloud, everything from our shopping and social media to our banking. As cloud-based systems becomes more common in everyday life, independent practices are becoming more comfortable with putting this technology to use for storing and maintaining their own data. And, with the secure environment provided by these cloud technologies, it is clear to see why more and more practices are choosing the convenience and affordability of the cloud over a server-based system.

About the Author

Adria Schmedthorst is a writer focusing on the medical device, technology, software, and healthcare industries. Adria is the founder of AMS Copy and a healthcare professional herself with more than 10 years in practice. She now uses her knowledge of the industry to help companies achieve their goals of writing content that speaks to the hearts and minds of medical professionals. She has been featured in blogs, written articles, and other publications for the industry, and ghostwritten books for doctors in both the United States and Australia. 

 

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SEO Basics for Doctors: Images

Lea Chatham August 24th, 2016

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You can use the great images you have to market your practice more effectively online and grow your online presence. Learn how in this short video with expert John Kim. Tweet this Kareo story

 

Get more tips on how to create an effective and engaging website in this simple guide.

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Creating Your Medical Practice Twitter Page in 8 Simple Steps

Lea Chatham August 23rd, 2016

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By Adria Schmedthorst

Many businesses are using Twitter to connect with followers, create brand awareness, and drive traffic to their websites, and you can do the same for your independent practice. Twitter is a powerful social media channel that lets you share small bites of content that can keep both potential and existing patients interested in your practice while allowing you to re-purpose content from your blog and other social media outlets like Facebook.

Setting up a business Twitter account is a simple process, and the sooner you get started, the sooner you can begin “tweeting” and building a following for your practice.

Follow these easy steps to get your Twitter account up and running: Tweet this Kareo story

Step # 1 – Account Basics
The first step is to go to the Twitter homepage at www.twitter.com and click “Sign Up” in the upper right corner. You will need to enter your business name and email address. You will also be required to verify your phone number before moving on. Choosing a username for your account is easy since it should reflect the name of your practice. Just remember, your username is limited to 15 characters.

Step # 2 – Follows and Interests
At this point, Twitter will prompt you to complete a couple of steps designed to make your Twitter account more active. It will ask you to select people or businesses to “Follow” and to choose your “Interests”. Following other healthcare providers in your area as well as companies that offer healthy tips and patient-oriented content can be a good idea to help you learn what is successful on Twitter. Choose “Interests” that reflect your practice and what you feel your ideal patients are looking for to get the most from your Twitter experience.

Step # 3 – Your Profile Picture
Now that the first steps are complete, it is time to upload a profile picture. You want to choose a photo that best represents your practice. It can be a picture of your office, a staff picture, or a picture of yourself if you are a solo practitioner. Your profile picture will be part of your Twitter feed so make sure it reflects the tone of your practice.

Step # 4 – Company Bio
The next step is adding your company bio. Twitter limits the bio to 160 characters, so while it should describe your practice, it has to be short. Using keywords that patients would be searching for is helpful, and don’t forget to add a link to your website address.

Step # 5 – Mobile Settings
To make it easier to tweet even when you are not in the office, go to “Mobile Settings”. This section lets you add a mobile number to access Twitter on-the-go.

Step # 6 – Email Notifications
Go to the “Email Notifications” section to manage when and how often Twitter notifications are sent to you. Here, you can choose to be emailed when a patient likes your tweet or re-tweets you. This is a great way to keep track of how your tweets are being received and to be able to thank patients who are sharing your content.

Step # 7 – Links to Other Social Media Accounts
To make the most of your Twitter business account, you want to make sure it is linked to your other social media channels. Luckily, Twitter makes this easy. Just go to the “Apps Settings” tab to add links to other social media tools like Facebook.

Step # 8 – Time to Tweet
Once all of these steps have been completed, your independent practice is ready to start tweeting. To tweet, you can click on your home page where it says “Compose New Tweet” or on the blue button with a pencil. Each tweet is limited to 140 characters. You can add links to your tweets, such as ones to blog posts you have written, and photos to catch the interest of your patients.

Now that your practice has joined the Twitter community, the most important thing to remember is to stay active. Twitter followers generally expect multiple tweets each day and are looking for content that is engaging, helpful, and shareable. When done right, Twitter can help your independent practice reach more patients, drive traffic to your website, increase patient visits, and build loyalty.

For more tips on managing your online reputation, download this helpful guide.

About the Author

Adria Schmedthorst is a writer focusing on the medical device, technology, software, and healthcare industries. Adria is the founder of AMS Copy and a healthcare professional herself with more than 10 years in practice. She now uses her knowledge of the industry to help companies achieve their goals of writing content that speaks to the hearts and minds of medical professionals. She has been featured in blogs, written articles, and other publications for the industry, and ghostwritten books for doctors in both the United States and Australia.

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Infographic Looks at ROI of Patient Engagement

Lea Chatham August 18th, 2016

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Everyone seems to agree that patient engagement is important. What people are debating is what does engagement mean, who is responsible, and how can providers can paid for adding more value for patients? This infographic looks at provider perspectives around the value of engagement and the concerns around reimbursement. It also examines what patients want and why. And, importantly, it shows some of the ways providers can see a measurable return for these activities. Tweet this Kareo story

 

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Webinar: Discover The Role Company Culture Plays In Your Billing Company’s Success

Lea Chatham August 17th, 2016

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Staffing and Culture: Your Billing Service’s Secret Sauce
Tuesday, August 23
10:00 AM PT, 1:00 PM ET

In this free webinar Laurie Morgan shares her secrets to building a billing company culture that can help you thrive Tweet this Kareo story

 

Looking to grow your billing service—or just be more profitable? The secret ingredients for your success are sitting right next to you (or maybe an internet connection away): your employees and colleagues. A billing team that performs well, adapts to changing times, and embodies your company values is the key to longevity and prosperity in a competitive market. Building and retaining a team like that is the surest way to stand out from the crowd! But how do you do it?

Join Laurie Morgan of Capko & Morgan for a lively webinar on this exciting and critical topic for billing companies. You’ll learn:

  1. How staffing well makes marketing a piece of cake
  2. Why “culture eats strategy for breakfast”
  3. Quick tips for evaluating new staff additions
  4. And much more

Register now to hear Laurie’s secrets to staffing success.

Register Now

 

About the Speaker

Laurie Morgan is a senior consultant and partner at Capko & Morgan. She managed both start-ups and large-scale operations in the media industry before turning her focus to medical practice management. Her consulting focus is on driving and capturing revenue and operating more efficiently. Laurie has an MBA from Stanford University.

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Free Webinar: New Ways Staff Can Increase Practice Revenue

Lea Chatham August 11th, 2016

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Technology + People = Profit: New Ways Staff Can Increase Practice Revenue
Tuesday, August 16
10:00 AM PT, 1:00 PM ET

In this free webinar Laurie Morgan will talk about how to empower your staff with the right training and tools to boost your bottom line Tweet this Kareo story

 

Key trends in technology, health insurance, and consumer preferences are changing staffing needs at medical practices. Patients expect a higher level of service. Does your practice have the technology—and the team—to deliver it? And if you add technology, how can you be sure your practice will be more productive? Above all, how do you use all your human and technology resources to maximize profit potential?

Having the right staff is the first step. The next is empowering them with the right tools and the right responsibilities. In this lively webinar, Laurie Morgan of Capko & Morgan will:

  1. Explore new ways technology can empower staff to provide better patient service
  2. Help you understand how front office technology differs from platform technology—and why that matters
  3. Explain the connections between technology, productivity, patient service, and profit

See how the right mix of staff roles and technology can take your practice’s revenue and profit to the next level. It’s a presentation you can’t afford to miss!

Register Now

 

About the Speaker

Laurie Morgan is a senior consultant and partner at Capko & Morgan. She managed both start-ups and large-scale operations in the media industry before turning her focus to medical practice management. Her consulting focus is on driving and capturing revenue and operating more efficiently. Laurie has an MBA from Stanford University.

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Get Tips on Maximizing Staff Productivity in Latest Getting Paid Newsletter

Lea Chatham August 9th, 2016

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Read the August Getting Paid Newsletter for tips on maximizing staff productivity, social media, and patient collections in your medical practice. You can also check out recent events you may have missed as well as upcoming events you might want to add to your calendar.  Read all this and more now! Tweet this Kareo story

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It’s People Who Power Your Medical Practice

Lea Chatham August 8th, 2016

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by Laurie Morgan, Capko & Morgan

Somewhere along the way, the idea that medical practice profitability hinges on minimizing staffing seems to have taken hold. My partners and I theorize that the notion gained momentum in the managed care wave of the 1990s, when many practices saw their revenues dramatically squeezed. Cutting expenses seemed essential—and cutting staff seemed like the logical way to do it.

That may have sounded right in the 90s, and it may even sound right in 2016. But what if the right approach to profitability is actually not so simple?

Cost-cutting always seems like a sure way to improve practice profit. Because it’s often the single biggest practice expense, staff is usually the first place managers and owners look to make cuts. And in some cases, there may be excess that can be cut. But many practices already run very lean. Cutting staff or staff hours in those cases runs the risk of making the practice even less profitable. Without enough medical practice staff, key tasks may be done more slowly, less well, or maybe even not at all. Tweet this Kareo story

With enough staff, on the other hand, you might be able to increase revenue. As staff members build more skills, and technology helps them do their jobs better, they can handle more. Practices that work as a team to help staff reach their fullest potential also enable their practices to reach higher levels of productivity.

Our consulting group once worked with a doctor who achieved astonishing productivity (off the charts compared to benchmarks) by investing significant up-front time training MAs and creating a customized workflow. He used three MAs to the fullest and moved quickly through his day. Morale was just as high as productivity; the doctor was able to do more of what he loves to do, and the MAs felt great to be contributing at the top of their skills, too.

It’s rare to find a practice that doesn’t have opportunities like that to redefine and refine staff roles to make everyone more productive—especially as technology continues to improve. I’ll be sharing some of the things we’ve learned at Capko & Morgan about how to modernize your practice by using technology more strategically and rethinking how staff can contribute in my upcoming free webinar, Technology + People=Profit, on August 16. Register Now.

About the Author

Laurie Morgan is a senior consultant and partner at Capko & Morgan. She managed both start-ups and large-scale operations in the media industry before turning her focus to medical practice management. Her consulting focus is on driving and capturing revenue and operating more efficiently. Laurie has an MBA from Stanford University.

 

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Setting up Google+ and Google Places for Your Independent Practice

Lea Chatham August 8th, 2016

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By Adria Schmedthorst

Google offers a number of tools that make connecting with new and existing patients easier for your independent practice, and you should take advantage of them. Google+ and Google Places are often easily confused, but each one offers its own unique benefits. While Google+ is a social media channel that allows you to engage with patients, post content, and build awareness of your practice online, Google Places is not a social media tool, but instead, literally places your practice on the map so that your patients can find your physical address using Google Maps.

Both Google+ and Google Places are easy to set up. To get started with either of these, you will first need a Google account. So, if you do not already have one, go to accounts.google.com and click “Create an Account”. Once you have a Google account, you will use it to set up both the Google Places and Google+ pages for your practice and you are ready to move on.

Here is a step-by-step breakdown on how to get started with Google Places and Google+ for your independent medical practice. Tweet this Kareo story

Google Places
Step # 1 – Set up Your Place
To set up a Places page for your practice, go to www.google.com/business and click on “Google My Business”. You will then enter your practice name. If your practice is already listed, select it and move on to the next step. Otherwise, enter your practice name and click “Add” and then continue.

Step # 2 – Verify
Google wants to make sure that you as the practice manager or owner are the only person who has access to your information. The easiest way to complete this step is to click the “Verify by Phone” option. If this is not available to you, you will have to choose the postcard method to complete this step.

Step # 3 – Review and Make Changes
Once you have verified that you are authorized to set up your Places page, you will need to review your information. Make sure that your address, website, and phone number are correct, update your business hours, and add photos. When your information is complete and up-to-date, click “Done Editing”.

Google+
Step # 1 – Your Personal Profile
Just like with Facebook, you will need to set up a personal Google+ profile page before you can set up one for your practice. Just go to Google+ and click “Sign Up” to create your personal profile.

Step # 2 – Pick a Category
Once your personal profile is completed, go to “Create a Business Page” and click “Create a Page”. Select the category for “Local Business” and enter your country and telephone number at the prompts. You will then be able to choose a sub-category that best fits your practice.

Step # 3 – Your Practice Information
You will next choose a name for your page. Try to stay consistent with your name across all of your social media channels to get the best results and make it easy for your patients to find you. Add all of the information about your practice and link to your website. Click the button to agree to Google’s terms for your page, and you are ready for the next step.

Step # 4 – Customization Options
At this point, Google lets you customize your page. You will add your profile picture and you can even add a cover photo. Since the cover photo is larger, a picture of your office or your staff can work well here. You are also allowed to add a “Story” here but it is limited to 10 words. Think of this as your practice tagline or the 10 words that best describe your practice.

Step # 5 – About
Use the “About” section to manage your selections, make changes, or choose groups to follow. Remember that Google+ is a social media channel and social media is about the personal touches that make your patients feel more connected to you and your practice.

Once you have your Google+ page completed, you are ready to start sharing content, health tips, practice updates, and other valuable information with new and potential patients. With all of the social media tools available today, there is no reason why your independent practice can’t build a loyal patient following, increase new patient visits, and show the online world what it is like to be a part of your practice. Google is one more place where you can do this.

For more tips on managing your online reputation, download this helpful guide.

About the Author

Adria Schmedthorst is a writer focusing on the medical device, technology, software, and healthcare industries. Adria is the founder of AMS Copy and a healthcare professional herself with more than 10 years in practice. She now uses her knowledge of the industry to help companies achieve their goals of writing content that speaks to the hearts and minds of medical professionals. She has been featured in blogs, written articles, and other publications for the industry, and ghostwritten books for doctors in both the United States and Australia.

 

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What Role Do Employees Play in Growing Your Medical Billing Company?

Lea Chatham August 4th, 2016

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by Laurie Morgan, Partner and Consultant, Capko & Morgan

For solo and very small medical practices, outsourcing medical billing is often the only reasonable option. A solo practice won’t typically have enough volume to keep a billing employee busy, and the rest of the small team likely has too much to do to take billing on as a ‘night job.’

But what if your billing service is trying to attract new business from larger practices—perhaps even practices that currently have their own billing teams? Understanding your prospects’ decision-making process is critical to attracting their attention (and retaining their business once you have it).

In our consulting work, practice managers and physician owners often ask us, “Should we outsource our billing?” They expect that there might be a rule of thumb, a surefire way to decide without making a mistake. We usually advise them to look at a number of factors, with talent at the top of the list.

When a practice starts looking at outsourcing, it’s often because they don’t feel their in-house team has the necessary skills to maximize revenue today, and to keep up with changes at the CMS and private health plans tomorrow.  So they may start to wonder, would it be less risky to work with a billing service, so that we could tap into a network of dedicated billing experts?

This is absolutely the right question to ask. Even if a practice administrator or physician owner strongly prefers to keep billing inside the practice, their internal team won’t be able to do as good a job as an excellent billing service could if they can’t attract the right talent.

Having an excellent team with superior billing knowledge is the best way to attract new clients—and make your service indispensable to current ones. And it’s the key to retaining clients, too. When practices get access to a team that’s much better than one they could hope to assemble on their own, they’re much less likely to ever want to leave your service.

The way you hire, train, use, and retain your staff can be the difference between a billing company that simply survives and one that continues to grow and thrive! Tweet this Kareo story

In my upcoming free webinar, Staffing & Culture: Your Billing Company’s Secret Sauce, we’ll take a look at how your hiring policies, training, and company culture can give your billing company a competitive advantage. It will be an informative discussion, with quick tips you can act on immediately. Register now.

About the Author

Laurie Morgan is a senior consultant and partner at Capko & Morgan. She managed both start-ups and large-scale operations in the media industry before turning her focus to medical practice management. Her consulting focus is on driving and capturing revenue and operating more efficiently. Laurie has an MBA from Stanford University.

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Welcome to Getting Paid, a weblog by Kareo offering ideas, news and opinions about medical billing and practice management with the goal of making medical billing easier and yes, getting you paid. Visit the Product Blog for more information on our products.

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