Practice software: The right tool for the job


Work through this list of questions before signing a contract with a management software provider.

Long ago, I learned a lesson. Don't buy a potato tiller if you're planning to plant hay. Just like any other tool, you want to match your practice software to the job you're trying to accomplish. Before your purchase, sit down with your most thoughtful leaders and review the following questions.

Questions to ask yourself and your team

> How can the software help our practice make each juncture of client interaction superb? (Identify each point in your service cycle before thinking through this question.)

> How does the software tell us we're living up to our service, care and financial goals? What information does our financial advisor need from the practice management software to do her job well? How about our practice consultant?

> Who on our staff can help us all use the software to its best ability, and what kind of investment are we willing to make to use this tool to its highest capability?

> Am I, or is someone in my office, knowledgeable enough to lead our efforts to set up the practice management component of the new software? How about the inventory management component?

> What will we need the software to do five years from now that we're not necessarily doing now?

> Do we have multiple locations or are we planning to have multiple locations in the future? Will the locations need to share client information and other data?

> Are we interested in purchasing this software because our current system doesn't work or because we never bothered to learn how to use it?

> Rank the following in order of importance: financial data, medical record data, patient data, client data, client communication, internal communication, integration with outside software.

> Will I need to log into my software using a mobile device or laptop from my island retreat in the Bahamas? If so, is this software up to the task?

Questions to ask the vendor

Next, hitch up your jeans and park a foot on the bottom rail of the fence. It's time to talk to your local rep about what their software can do for you.

> Can you give me the number for your support desk? I'd like to call them now to see how long it takes to get them on the phone.

> Does your software function seamlessly and effectively with mobile devices (iPad, tablets, smartphones)?

> What kind of investment do I need to make on my side for an on-site IT director? Or, on the other hand, how much would it cost for you to handle it?

> Does your software support cloud-based storage and server capabilities? How much would I need to invest in a new server or to upgrade my server?

> Are there online tutorials, video training tutorials and so forth to help answer my questions after the installation process? Can you show me these?

> Is there a practice in my area that uses your software that would allow me to visit? May I watch them use the software and ask them questions?

> Are there three references I can call to ask about their experience with your software and the installation process?

> List all the ways I can use the software to communicate with my clients.

> List the third-party platforms and equipment with which your software integrates.

> Demonstrate how your software helps me improve my client compliance.

> Is your software company owned by or partnered with another company? If so, what company?

> If there's a problem with the data transfer from my old software, to what extent will your company work to resolve the issues and correct the mistakes?

Bash Halow is co-owner of Halow Tassava Consulting and a member of Firstline's Editorial Advisory Board.

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