Competition hot in medical practice IT market
This week Pulse+IT travelled to Canberra for the Australian Association of Practice Management (AAPM) national conference.
With practice managers typically quite influential in the information technology purchasing decisions made by practices, IT has always featured strongly at AAPM conferences, and this year was no exception.
In addition to a large number of companies demonstrating their clinical and practice management software – and both long established, and more recent entrants to the space – attendees were able to check out a wide range of online appointment booking systems, patient check-in kiosks, payment and claiming solutions, online accreditation management tools, solutions to manage staff attendance, TVs to keep patients entertained in waiting rooms, services to integrate practice software with accounting solutions, telehealth software, and cyber insurance to help pick up the pieces when all the whizz bang gadgetry goes wrong.
If you weren’t able to attend, an overview of the companies and solutions that were on offer at the event can be found here.
Having frequented the AAPM conference and other major practice-related conferences for over 15 years, it’s been interesting to reflect on the steady rise of IT-related solutions built for medical practices that are not directly focused on doctors, practice nurses and other clinical staff.
In the early days of general practice computing in Australia, it was typical for practices to run separate billing and clinical systems, which over time gave way to ‘fully integrated’ solutions that bundled both sets of functionality together in the same product, or in a pair of products provided by the same company. Fewer suppliers = fewer problems was always the obvious selling point along the way, but in 2018 it’s clear that the ability for new and existing technologies to play nice together within a medical practice has never been more important.
In discussions with practice managers at the event, a recurring theme that came up was just how competitive the business of running medical practices has become, particularly in metro areas. Whereas a number in a phonebook may have been more than sufficient as a marketing strategy in years gone by, and the occasional no-show would be welcomed by busy GPs, it’s clear that many practices are far more active in promoting themselves via online appointment channels, chasing up patients with SMS appointment reminders and targeted recalls thereafter, and doing their best to streamline their operations to improve their viability.
As in all other sectors, technology clearly has a role in this regard, but with so much of the technology being foisted upon practices seen as creating added burden, it was refreshing to spend time in a room full of solutions designed to do the opposite.
That brings us to our poll question for this week: is the software market fulfilling medical practice needs?
Sign up to our weekend edition to vote or leave your thoughts below.
Last week, our poll asked: Should the My Health Record legislation be rewritten? Yep, our readers say, by a large margin: 71 per cent to 29 per cent.