Trialling clinical practice management software

We are often asked to recommend practice management software. As you will see below it is very personal so we don’t recommend but the following might help you make a choice.

Choosing the calendar software you will use for your business is really important; you don’t want to have to change later. We conducted a survey among our current clients to see if they had any preferences. We’re a small company offering a personalised service, so we don’t have a huge database to get information from, but we wondered if there were favourites or not. The answer seems to be not; some of our clients found a software excellent while others with the same software found it a nuisance.

The way you access the software is important. All the calendars claim to be usable on a tablet or smartphone, but their use may be limited in part by the need for a good signal. Android tablets seemed to have the most problems, but not always so could it be that they are relying on 3G or 4G?

Mobile devices

Are you going to use a desktop PC or a mobile device?

Think about these things.

  • Do you want to send text or emails to your clients? Emails only from Google and Myoffice. Where a software provider offers text reminders they will price in around 6p each and be sent directly through the software.
  • How easily can you access client booking history? All systems will keep a history if they have been booked properly.
  • Is there an audit trail? You might want to back track and check when you made or cancelled a booking.  None on Google, if you delete something by accident it is gone.

Look at the websites, see which you like the look of and can afford, and then do a trial.

  • As the trial is free you can join several at the same time. Create 10 mock customers and book them in, move them, cancel, take money and give them some treatments. Make some morning and afternoon and evening bookings. If you are a multi-practitoner or multi-site clinic set these up and book for both.  Do the same in each diary you are trialing.
  • Go to the places you might want to check your diary. At home, at work,  but also in the car? in the pub? in the supermarket? outside the school gate?
  • Are you using a mobile device just for display, or will you be entering new bookings through it? Try it.
  • How well does it sync? Put an appointment into the diary on a laptop, then see how long before it syncs to your phone. Get a business partner or family member to log in to your account and see if it has synced on their phone as well.
  • Ask someone else to look at it, how easily can they understand your  bookings, if you have more than one site or practitioner is it clear which is which? A label at the top of a column isn’t always visible when you scroll down the page into later times.
  • This all becomes even more important when you are thinking about clinical notes or accounts. You need to be able to read and write them, store them for at least 8 years, and re-access them and add to them at any time. Our survey found using android for clinical notes could be difficult for some, and some notes just seem to be easier to use, fit with the way you work. There is no facility to add clinical notes in Google and MyOffice.

You probably should trial 2 or 3 packages unless you fall in love with one immediately.

Prices

Obviously you want to know costs. You need to look on the software providers websites. I picked these prices off the websites today, February 2015.
These are diaries that we have clients currently using, which are simple to use and seem to be well supported by the hosting company. All prices are monthly and exclusive of VAT.

  • PracticePal – £25.00 for 1 diary , Additional diaries £5 each, and £5 for RTR access. £3.00 for extra modules eg accounts, clinical notes.
  • Cliniko – single diary Aus $ 45, 2 diaries Aus$ 95, sms reminders are 10 cents.
  • PPS Rushcliff– their express package costs £10 and can provide sms or email reminders, PPS Hosted £40 with automated sms reminders 6p each and clinical notes.
  • TM2 – starts at £30.00 for a basic package, which seems to include most things. They also charge £22.50 for RTR access.
  • Bookeo – Aus $14.95, there are no extras just booking. Will send reminders but I couldn’t find the price.
  • MyOffice – mentioned above. This is very affordable at £60 per year, and works well if used carefully.
  • And then there is Google which is free, and works fine in a limited way.

Cliniko and Bookeo are both Australian companies so the cost will vary with the exchange rate, which is not very good right now, however, there would be no VAT.

If you take my advice and go off to play with these packages we would be really interested in hearing your thoughts, either in the blog comments or by email to [email protected]

Take a look also at Private Practice Hub, who have also done an extensive review.