If you’re currently shopping for physical therapy software, you’ve most likely seen a myriad of initialisms. But what does all that alphabet soup mean? Well, in the physical therapy industry, clinics primarily rely on two software solutions to do business:

  1. EMR, which provides documentation and scheduling.
  2. Revenue cycle management (RCM), which handles accounts receivable (AR) and payable (AP).

EMR and RCM are the two initialisms you’ll see most as you shop around for your software. Sometimes, you’ll see vendors advertising an “all-in-one” solution, which implies the EMR and RCM live within one system. (This offering is what I like to call a jack-of-all-trades system.) Other vendors will tout an “integrated solution,” which is basically a fancy term for an EMR or RCM system that integrates with other softwares. (This is the best-of-breeds scenario.)

The “all-in-one”—or jack-of-all-trades—solution might seem alluring, but your business is like Cinderella: only one glass slipper truly fits. And the all-in-one solution needs to fit a lot of feet—er, clinics—which means the software errs on the side of generic. That’s not necessarily the right solution for your business. Furthermore, in addition to not integrating with any other software (which leaves you with only one option for an RCM-EMR combo), chances are this vendor will offer up its EMR for free—and then charge you a higher percentage per reimbursement for billing. This scheme means the more money you make, the greater your vendor’s cut. You want to use a billing software that takes the smallest percentage possible, right? Nothing is free in business, so don’t get sweet-talked into a free EMR only to get financially blindsided by an overcharging RCM.

Losing sleep over healthcare reform?

Enter your email address below, and we'll send you our free healthcare executive's guide to maximizing both clinical and financial results—whatever regulatory curveballs come your way.

Please enable JavaScript to submit form.

Conversely, integrated software allows you to pair the EMR that best suits your documentation and scheduling needs with the RCM software that best suits your accounts receivable (AR) and accounts payable (AP) needs. Then, through the integration, they work in tandem—and you get the best of both worlds. Here’s how it works:

  1. You use the EMR for documentation and scheduling.
  2. Billing data flows into the RCM via the integration.
  3. You use the RCM for AR and AP.
  4. Voila! You have the best possible experience, because you’re using the best software for each job.

So, how do you choose your EMR and RCM? I recommend shopping for your EMR first. Here are some EMR must-haves to get you started:

  • Features a PT-specific design, with:
    • Specialty templates.
    • Therapy-specific SOAP note workflow.
    • Built-in compliance safeguards.
  • Is entirely web-based, which means no downloading, installing, or manually maintaining anything. (Don’t be fooled by “web-enabled” offerings.)
  • Provides unlimited, top-notch customer support—at no extra cost.
  • Excels at documentation and scheduling, and integrates with RCM software. (Make sure you ask for the full list of systems with which it integrates.)
  • Features an easy, flexible, and well-documented training and implementation plan—one that’s included and customizable to your practice.
  • Offers straightforward pricing that scales with your business’s growth.

Beyond using this list, I recommend referring to these resources for additional guidance:

Once you choose an EMR, it’s time to find a billing software. Refer to the EMR’s list of integrated partners. This will help you narrow your focus. In addition to an EMR integration, here are a few other RCM must-haves:

  • The software—and its service, if you choose to use it—have specialty and regional specialization.
  • It has Medicare requirements covered.
  • It’s ready for ICD-10.
  • It has a rock-solid uptime rate and great reviews.
  • It includes free customer service.
  • It isn’t server-based.

Depending on your clinic’s needs, you might have to add to this must-haves list. I recommend evaluating your current process to determine what you like and what you’d like to improve upon.

Now that you’re primed for a streamlined physical therapy software shopping excursion, it’s time to get out there and do it. Don’t let the online ads, sales people, and inundation of information overwhelm you. Stick to your guns, and remember you know your clinic best. Ultimately, the EMR and RCM should work together beautifully, but remember, this relationship is a trio—not a duo. And you’re the most important part of the dynamic.

Defensible Documentation Toolkit - Regular BannerDefensible Documentation Toolkit - Small Banner
  • What Happens if Your Physical Therapy Software Goes Out of Business? Image

    articleJul 15, 2016 | 7 min. read

    What Happens if Your Physical Therapy Software Goes Out of Business?

    You’ve most likely heard the news: PTOS is going out of business. That means that in a few short months, PTOS customers will be left without a physical therapy practice management and billing software solution, so they’ve got to find new systems—stat . After all, no one wants to lose all of their valuable patient and business data—nor do they want to wait until the last minute to find a replacement. Shopping for a PTOS alternative, partnering with …

  • Common Questions from Our PT Billing Open Forum Image

    articleAug 18, 2018 | 34 min. read

    Common Questions from Our PT Billing Open Forum

    Last week, WebPT’s trio of billing experts—Dr. Heidi Jannenga, PT, DPT, ATC/L, WebPT President and Co-founder; John Wallace, PT, MS, WebPT Chief Business Development Officer of Revenue Cycle Management; and Dianne Jewell, PT, DPT, PhD, WebPT Director of Clinical Practice, Outcomes, and Education—hosted a live open forum on physical therapy billing . Before the webinar, we challenged registrants to serve up their trickiest PT billing head-scratchers—and boy, did they deliver! We received literally hundreds of questions on …

  • ICD-10 Open Forum Image

    webinarOct 5, 2015

    ICD-10 Open Forum

    On October 1, the US officially said RIP to ICD-9 and brought ICD-10 to life. For some of you, the transition might’ve been all sugar and spice—a real treat. But for many others, the switch to the new code set might’ve left you feeling overwhelmed, tricked, or even a bit scared. At the very least, you might be haunted by some lingering questions. That’s where we can help. We’ve brewed a cauldron filled to the brim with …

  • FAQ: Physical Therapy Billing Live Q&A Image

    articleAug 30, 2019 | 51 min. read

    FAQ: Physical Therapy Billing Live Q&A

    Earlier this week, Heidi Jannenga, PT, DPT, ATC—WebPT’s Co-Founder and Chief Clinical Officer—and John Wallace, WebPT’s Chief Business Development Officer of Revenue Cycle Management, paired up to answer rehab therapists’ most burning billing questions during a live Q&A-style webinar . And, boy, did we get a lot of great ones. So many, in fact, that we couldn’t possibly get to them all live, so we created this massive post-webinar post (our biggest yet) with the most commonly …

  • Top 3 PT Billing Software Must-Haves Image

    articleJun 13, 2016 | 4 min. read

    Top 3 PT Billing Software Must-Haves

    When I go clothes shopping, I usually head straight to the clearance rack (I love a good bargain), but—as my husband loves to remind me—there’s a solid reason some of those items didn’t sell for full-price. Sure, sometimes the manufacturer made too many—or a particular style didn’t sell as well as planned. Most of the time, though, the discounted items are simply poor quality—and that’s why it’s crucial to be able to spot the difference between cheap …

  • ICD-10 Crash Course: Last-Minute Training for PTs, OTs, and SLPs Image

    webinarSep 2, 2015

    ICD-10 Crash Course: Last-Minute Training for PTs, OTs, and SLPs

    It’s officially here: the last month before all HIPAA-eligible professionals must switch to the ICD-10 code set. As the regret of procrastination washes over many of those professionals, they’re scrambling to ready themselves and their practices for the big switch. If you, like so many other rehab therapists, find yourself asking, “ICD-what?” then you’re in dire need of straightforward training—stat! Otherwise, you could leave your practice vulnerable to claim denials after October 1. Join us at 9:00 …

  • The Ultimate ICD-10 FAQ: Part Deux Image

    articleSep 24, 2015 | 16 min. read

    The Ultimate ICD-10 FAQ: Part Deux

    Just when we thought we’d gotten every ICD-10 question under the sun, we got, well, more questions. Like, a lot more. But, we take that as a good sign, because like a scrappy reporter trying to get to the bottom of a big story, our audience of blog readers and webinar attendees aren’t afraid to ask the tough questions—which means they’re serious about preparing themselves for the changes ahead. And we’re equally serious about providing them with …

  • Undoing Denials: Managing Claim Rejections and Appeals in PT Billing Image

    articleOct 20, 2016 | 7 min. read

    Undoing Denials: Managing Claim Rejections and Appeals in PT Billing

    When the stakes aren’t high, people are more forgiving of flubs. If you have a bad hand, a missed stroke, or a poor toss, you may cry, “Mulligan!”—and get a do-over. But, what happens when the stakes are high—like when you’re billing for physical therapy services, and you suffer a denied claim? Do you get a mulligan? The short answer: yes. The long answer: I wouldn’t necessarily call appealing a denied claim a “do-over,” but the important …

  • Dawn of the ICD-10: Life in the Post-Transition World Image

    articleOct 28, 2015 | 5 min. read

    Dawn of the ICD-10: Life in the Post-Transition World

    Some of you might remember all of the hype around Y2K. Rumors and speculation were abuzz, and there were people who thought all hell was going to break loose when the clock struck midnight on January 1, 2000. And then—dun, dun, dun—nothing happened. The Hyperbolic Hype The lead-up to October 1 was similar in many respects, albeit on a much smaller scale. People all over the healthcare community were freaking out about the unknown; some large practices …

Achieve greatness in practice with the ultimate EMR for PTs, OTs, and SLPs.