Friday, March 01 |

What You Should Know About Practice Management Systems

By Netsmart

What is practice management software for behavioral health practices? And how does it differ from an EHR? These are two important questions to ask to help you decide what exactly your agency needs from systems to help you manage your practice.

What is healthcare practice management software?

Behavioral health practice management software automates and streamlines the operational aspect of your healthcare practice. For example, you get comprehensive operational functionality that helps you manage and support authorization management, medication accountability, bed management, inventory, document tracking, and more.

An EHR system, on the other hand, is an electronic version of a paper chart.

How does healthcare practice management software differ from an EHR?

An EHR streamlines data entry for clinicians, assisting with assigning the correct codes. It also reduces or eliminates the paper chart needed.

Practice management systems manage the practice such as calendar and scheduling, intake, capturing demographics, a client portal, and more.

Do you need both healthcare practice management software and an EHR?

The more software you’re using at a time, the more work for staff, management, and clinicians to bring those pieces together for reporting and managing purposes. You lose massive efficiencies by having multiple disparate systems and it also becomes a cost burden.

Many practices maintain separate systems for calendar and scheduling, coding and billing, authorization management, clinician notes, bed and medication management, and more. Making these separate pieces work together consistently and efficiently can be challenging.

Imagine how efficient and effective staff, clinicians, and management can be when their system contains everything they need in one simple platform.

If you’re struggling with several systems that don’t interface, you may be ready to consider an EHR that has an integrated practice management system.  An EHR with a built-in practice management system helps you condense your operational activities into one solution.

When you think of practice management systems, you may think of software installed on your computer or a server. This post will cover hosted practice management systems and what you should know.


The cost of a hosted practice management systems is decidedly less than the cost of purchasing software licenses for every user. Also, you bear the cost of upgrades when necessary, and managing and maintaining the software and hardware.

With a hosted system, your cost covers not only every user, maintenance, and storage, but also ongoing development such as new features and upgrades.

Consider the cost savings in not needing technical IT staff to monitor and maintain your system because the vendor provides it.

HIPAA compliance

Mental health professionals know the importance of HIPAA. Make sure any practice management system you consider is HIPAA compliant and encrypts data.

Also, if you want to be eligible for Meaningful Use in the future, choose an ONC-certified system.

Client intake

A practice management system must allow you to capture all the information necessary for your organization to function, like insurance ID, date of birth, referring doctor, and more.

Additional features you want to include are:

  • Emergency contact information
  • Integration with scheduling
  • The ability to capture custom fields
  • The ability to search and run reports on multiple criteria


Keeping track of appointments is necessary as is appointment scheduling.

Look for client integrations so you can see the client’s data at the same time you’re setting an appointment.

A must-have feature for most behavioral health organizations comprises automated appointment reminders via email, text, or phone.


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