Here’s TEN quick tips that will enable you to choose the optimum system for your practice
1. Consider what kind of software you want to use. In this day and age there are essentially two approaches. One involves installing the software on your PC or Mac. The other involves accessing the software via a web-browser - often referred to as Web-based or “Cloud-based” computing. Both have their relative merits so it’s really up to you to decide which you prefer.
2. Define what features you really need. This might seem really obvious but before you start looking at any products give some thought to your reasons for wanting to implement a system and then tease out what features are required to meet those objectives. Software vendors are generally pretty good at “selling” you on the number of features that they have, which is fine but be sure you need them all!
3. Set yourself an appropriate budget. Solutions on the market range from FREE (be wary of these) to over £100/user/month. Within reason decide what you can afford to spend. Obviously if you’re only seeing a handful of patients your needs are probably going to be relatively straightforward so there’s no need to burn a high proportion of your monthly fee income on a “Rolls Royce” solution.
4. When you’ve decided your budget and functional requirements draw up a shortlist of candidates and trial the various solutions. Personally, I wouldn’t embark on a exhaustive feature by feature analysis. I would focus on your stated business objectives and see if you get the right “feel” from the software.
5. As part of your evaluation test out the technical support of your chosen providers. Establish if they have a defined process or system for handling technical support and most importantly check out their response times and the quality of their advice. Also, establish if training is required and/or what online training material is available.
6. If you plan on using the software on range of devices (PC, Mac, iPad, Phone) make sure you test the product on those devices. Depending on the quality of the coding some applications that look great on a desktop device may look and function badly on an iPad or smartphone.
7. Clearly understand the pricing of your shortlist. In particular, understand what’s included and not included in the price. Often things like text credits, online booking, assessment form customisation are charged as extras. If in doubt, ask the question!
8. If you select a cloud-based solution go to some length to understand the security and back-up provisions of the various providers. This should include understanding where your data is stored, who has access to it and most importantly what the backup strategy is. Ideally you should be looking for at least daily back-ups but preferably every hour.
9. Verify the credentials of your chosen provider. Check out the backgrounds of the principles on LinkedIn and in particular look out for “flash in the pans” that dip into a market and then move on to something else. Take a look at social media and see how the organisation presents itself to the outside world and make note of any comments or dialogue.
10. If you don’t talk to other users personally, validate testimonials and try to establish from existing users if they are happy with the solution after months or years of usage.