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 a new vendor, transferring data, and training staff all take time.
PTOS EMR isn’t the first therapy office software to shutter its doors, and it certainly won’t be the last, which begs the question: what do you do if your physical therapy software goes out of business? First, don’t panic. Instead, follow these tips:
Take your current vendor’s recommendations with a grain of salt.
When a software vendor goes out of business, the company typically develops a succession plan (i.e., a process to refer its customers to another software company). Helping you find a substitute software is the least a closing business can do. Of course, that software isn’t guaranteed to be the best fit. Instead, the crumbling company most likely has some type of a relationship with the referred system—and it may have even received payment for its customer list. That’s right; when your software goes out of business, there’s a chance it’ll peddle your name and contact information to the highest bidder.
Grab hold of the opportunity.
There is no system more mission-critical to your business than your practice management software. So, if your current vendor closes its doors, look at the resulting transition as a major opportunity. Here’s your chance to truly shop around and find a system that’s perfect for your practice. (We bet PTOS left a few things to be desired—given that it’s going out of business.)
Get your data.
If you haven’t yet noticed, PTOS has already pulled its website. From a customer perspective, that’s pretty unsettling. Don’t wait for things to get any worse; get your data now. Immediately call customer support—before that goes kaput, too—and ask how to get the data that’s rightfully yours. Then, back that data up in multiple locations (e.g., local servers, disks, or external hard drives). And keep it all under lock and key.
Shopping around takes time and energy, but it’s worth it to find an ideal solution. Of course, you first need to understand what makes a software “ideal.” Here’s what we recommend:
Identify your system and business requirements.
Audit your current processes to pinpoint your business and system requirements. Ask yourself:
- How many staff members do you have—and will every employee need access to the system? How many employees will need to clinically document, and how many will need administrative access only?
- With what systems will your EMR need to integrate?
- What types of devices (phones, tablets, desktops) will you use to access your software?
- Do you also need a billing software or service?
- How fast do you expect your business to grow? Will your EMR be able to support your growth in terms of training and system bandwidth?
- What scheduling functionality is important to your staff?
- Is outcomes tracking important to you? Given the current pay-for-performance state of health care, we’re betting you’re looking for a software that helps you demonstrate—and track—the impact of your services.
Determine your must-haves.
Use your answers to the questions above to determine the must-haves for your new physical therapy software. Here are some general (and widely agreed-upon) things to look for:
Ideally, you want a system made by PTs, for PTs—not a generalist system, and certainly not a product developed by some major healthcare software conglomerate. You want to do business with a vendor that genuinely cares about the PT industry as opposed to a ginormous entity looking to make a buck by making something for everyone. Specifically, your PT software should have specialty templates, a therapy-specific SOAP note workflow, and built-in compliance safeguards tailored to outpatient rehab regulations (think functional limitation reporting, 8-minute rule monitoring, and therapy cap tracking).
Be sure that your web-based software is truly web-based—as opposed to web-enabled. The latter may seem comparable, but it’s not, because these systems still require you to manage all future software updates and secure your patients’ protected health information (PHI). Plus, you’ll want a solution that you can access from your phone, tablet, or desktop computer—and one that’s browser agnostic, which simply means it runs on just about any up-to-date browser (e.g., Safari, Chrome, and Firefox).
Also, steer clear of software that was once server-based and has since “upgraded” to being web-based. Look for technology architectured specifically for the web—not new-school functionality bolted onto an old-school foundation.
PTOS made the mistake of charging for technical support. Don’t settle for that again. Look for a software solution that:
- Provides unlimited, top-notch customer support—at no extra cost.
- Features an easy, flexible, and well-documented training and implementation plan—one that’s included and customizable based on your practice’s needs.
- Simplifies the transition. This is a biggy. You’re switching from a vendor that’s leaving you high and dry to a brand-new business partner. Make sure your new software provider has the skills, staff, and technological capabilities necessary to quickly, easily, and cost-effectively migrate your practice—and all its data—to the new system.
The drawback of all-in-one systems is that you have to bill the way they want you to. That’s why you want to look for a flexible software—one that gives you the freedom to bill however you please. Seek out a solution that offers the following options:
- Outsourced billing via a revenue cycle management service
- The software’s own billing software, which gives you an “all-in-one” solution (but doesn’t force it on you)
- Integrated billing (in which the EMR side of the software integrates with a wide array of billing systems)
Robust Feature Set
In addition to a stellar documentation platform designed by PTs, you want:
- Built-in, easy-to-use scheduling tools and reports
- Automated phone, text, and email appointment reminders
- Electronic faxing
- Intuitive compliance tools and reports for all of Medicare’s regulations, including PQRS, functional limitation reporting, therapy cap, 8-minute rule, and CCI edit pairs
- Built-in outcomes tracking (with OMTs that are widely used and understood throughout the healthcare community—which means no proprietary tests)
- Integrated home exercise program
Straightforward Pricing with No Long-Term Contracts
Plain and simple: You want pricing that can scale with your business’s growth, and you don’t want to be locked into long-term obligations. Furthermore, make sure the solution conducts regular upgrades and never charges for them.
Demo, demo, demo.
Once you know what you need and want in your new system, hit the Internet. Search for “physical therapy software,” check out LinkedIn boards and software review sites, and email fellow therapists to see what they recommend. Then, check out the websites; see which systems check all of your boxes. Then, request demos. (Never purchase software without seeing it first.) During those demos, be sure to ask lots of questions and request pricing quotes.
Once you’ve explored your options, you’ll most likely have a pretty short list of ideal solutions. From there, it’s all about getting buy-in from your staff and fellow leaders, crunching the numbers, and assessing—from both a business and relationship standpoint—which solution is truly going to be the best fit for your practice.
It’s never a good feeling when your software vendor closes—especially one that you trusted with something as important as practice management. Whether or not you liked the company or its system, you’re still faced with unexpected change and the seemingly daunting task of switching systems. But, if you embrace the opportunity to level up, there’s a good chance you’ll find a strong, reliable, innovative solution that’ll see your practice into the future.