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Must-Have Urgent Care Software Features

Electronic Patient Registration

Because urgent care centers are focused on fast turnaround times, having a registration system that is electronic and easily accessible will speed up patient throughput times. Shorter patient wait times lead to better patient experience. Having an electronic registration system that allows patients to register from home prior to visiting the office is key in making sure that they can get in and out quickly. Additionally, this functionality saves time for your front desk staff by reducing document scanning and the potential for human errors.

Pre-Authorized Payment

Pre-authorized payment is swiping a patient’s credit card and placing an authorization for the expected amount of charges, with the balance being adjusted after insurance remittance. If the patient owes less than the amount pre-authorized, only the lesser amount will be charged—and if there is no patient payment responsibility, then nothing is charged. There’s also an opportunity for alternate payment methods since the patient is notified, usually by email, seven days before the charges actually go through.

Although credit card pre-authorization is a relatively new practice in healthcare, is not uncommon in retail. Consumers are accustomed to submitting a credit card to “hold” a hotel room or car rental reservation. Urgent care centers that have implemented this practice are reporting faster collections, reduced delinquent patient accounts, and improved patient satisfaction. This is a critical practice management component and should be integrated into your urgent care software.

Real-Time Eligibility

This is an important safeguard to verify a patient’s insurance coverage, co-pay responsibility, and deductible. Real-Time Eligibility is a necessary tool in the urgent care EMR because it helps the center collect as much payment as possible up front. More consumers are opting for high-deductible health insurance plans in order to pay lower premiums. This means more patients will have to pay for urgent care services out of pocket if the deductible responsibility has not been met. It can take 60 days or more to collect that payment from the patient after the fact if the center waits for the insurance company to deny the claim. Using Real-Time Eligibility, the patient pays the estimated fee for their service at the time of the visit. The center may have to issue a refund check later if the center collected too much up front.

2015 ONC Certified

Medical practices need to be operating on a system that meets the requirements of the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs. The ONC Health IT Certification Program is a voluntary certification initiated by the federal government to help support EHR Incentive Programs and provide patients with improved access to health records.

One of the most significant benefits of the certification is the continued support for both MACRA and MIPs programs. In order for providers to participate in these programs, it is required that they use an EMR/EHR that is 2015 ONC-Health IT Certified. Read more about Practice Velocity’s certification here.

Evaluation and Management Code Recommendations

To boost success and profitability, an urgent care EMR that recommends E&M codes based upon documentation in the EMR can be a game changer. The E&M coding suggestions must be accurate and reliable—otherwise the providers will waste time running through billing questions or risk getting into trouble from inaccurate coding. More accurate codes can produce significantly higher revenue due to a lower amount of rejected claims due to inaccurate coding. Inaccurate coding may also attract interest from auditors, so it’s important to find a high-quality automated system that recommends accurate codes in line with CMS guidelines. Have the vendor show how the EMR’s coding tools comply with published E/M coding guidelines and how the tools capture the necessary information from other parts of the chart.

U.S. Based Support

While you need an EMR software system that’s easy to learn and use, you also want a reliable support team to come with it. Look for an urgent care software company that offers 365-day customer support, based in the U.S. This helps you avoid language barriers, time delays and other complications. The support team needs to be easily reachable when anyone from your urgent care center has a question or runs into a problem in the software. Find a company that provides one-call resolution to your questions—you don’t want to get stuck leaving a message and waiting for someone to get back to you hours or days later. The urgent care industry requires on-demand service, which means the software provider needs to answer any issues urgently.

Online Bill Pay

To succeed in urgent care, you need to keep customers happy. One of the ways to do that is offering convenience features like online bill pay. Systems like ZipPay offer integrated functionality. Patients can log in and check the balance or pay by credit card from any device.

Charting Templates Designed for Urgent Care

An urgent care visit is unlike any other type of patient visit, which means you can’t use the same charting templates that a primary care practice or an emergency department does. Well, you can, but documenting a patient visit with those templates will take you so much longer to complete. Using an EMR with a documentation system that’s not designed specifically for urgent care is like trying to dig a hole with a pencil. It’s simply the wrong tool for the job. An urgent care EMR will have charts designed for a typical urgent care visit. Spend one day treating urgent care patients, and it’ll be incredibly easy to spot the difference between urgent care charting templates and everything else.

Specialized Practice Management Software

One of the most crucial system integrations your urgent care EMR must have is with your practice management (PM) software. Your practice management software needs to support the nuances of an urgent care practice, such as checking in patients for episodic, walk-in visits instead of only supporting the scheduling of primary care appointments.

You should also make sure your practice management software is capable of supporting services that are typically seen in an urgent care center. Can it handle occupational medicine services; integrate with online check-in and patient self-registration systems; and automate the billing of case rate contracts, which are common in urgent care but essentially non-existent outside of urgent care?

Ultimately, you’ll want to find an integrated EMR/PM system designed specifically for urgent care for a more seamless experience for your registration, clinical and billing staff

Occupational Medicine Functionality

Many urgent care centers add Occ Med services because it complements the urgent care model so well. While urgent care visits are episodic, Occ Med visits can be scheduled so they fill non-peak periods, using a center’s labor more efficiently throughout the day.

Most non-urgent care EMRs don’t have built-in occupational medicine functionality, making Occupational Medicine and employer-paid services a manual process for staff. An urgent care EMR needs to have this functionality built right in so your staff can communicate electronically with your center’s clients, eliminating the need to print and scan records and respond to copious company inquiries. The advantage this will give you over your competition will help you bring in far more Occ Med clients.