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PracticePal

PracticePal is one of the most comprehensive practice management programmes on the market, offering a combination of sophisticated features at fairly affordable prices. Aimed at a range of professionals, from cosmetic surgeons to homeopaths, it aims to make running your business as simple and profitable as possible. 

 

Free trial? No. You can request an online demonstration.

Cost: £25 per month for a core module (one diary). £3 per additional module (Clinic Notes, Practice Income, Practice Expenditure, Online Booking, Recall, Marketing).

 

You can cancel at any time with no cancellation fees. Technical support is included in the price. All prices exclude VAT.  

 

 

This is a hosted programme so you can access it from anywhere. A nifty feature is the ability to access all of its features from smart devices, such as iPads and Blackberry phones. PracticePal guarantees that users won’t experience any downtime in service because they own their server, therefore making it a reliable service.

 

Initial impressions of PracticePal from the online demonstration is that it is user-friendly and modern. It’s based on a Microsoft Outlook diary so many people will be familiar with this layout already. Above the diary, there is a box where your tasks for that day are highlighted in red so you don’t let any administrative matters slip through the net. You can set up tasks quickly and easily via the task box. There is also a button called ‘Notice board’, which is like a post-it board where you can leave notes or comments about things you don’t want to forget but which aren’t specific time-limited tasks.

 

You can customise PracticePal so it meets your needs and is relevant to the type of practice you have. For example, you can set up different types of appointments (type of treatment, duration, fees and how you want to colour-code it in the diary), use a specific template for your session notes, choose what patient information you want to collect and specify possible referral sources. The aim is to make the programme as relevant to you and your needs as possible, allowing you to build up a detailed database from which you can extract the exact information you need for various uses (e.g. monitoring advertising effectiveness). 

 

Entering new patient details is easy and you can do this directly from the diary when booking an appointment. As well as a patient’s basic contact information, you can add details of their GP, any health insurance they have and assign contacts to them (e.g. names of people involved in their treatment). If there is third party funding, you can choose to default invoices to them. You can also record information from a pre-defined checklist which includes everything from medical history and diet to hobbies and exercise. There is the option to add user-defined fields, which you might choose to use for referral source, Groupon codes or any other information you want to gather. This is particular useful for marketing purposes. 

 

To make an appointment, go to the diary and click on the date and time of the appointment. This opens up a box where you can search for the patient’s name. Once you’ve found it, you can select the appointment type (e.g. initial assessment at £40) and see that patient’s previous appointments and their status. This is particularly helpful to identify patients who frequently DNA.  If you want, you can also email or text the appointment confirmation and reminder to the patient from this box, at a cost of 10p for a SMS and 5p for an email (this is an optional module). This is a handy way of helping patients to remember their appointments. There is also a module with a recall facility (extra module) so you can set reminders for patients to return for a follow-up appointment in a specific time period. Again, this can be done by email or SMS if you choose this option.

 

PracticePal offers a facility for online booking (extra module) which also comes with the advantage of patients being able to make prepayments via PayPal. You have full control over what type of appointments can be booked and when.

 

Once you’ve seen a patient, you can add clinical notes (extra module) in whatever format you need – either through a series of checkbox lists, textboxes for freehand notes or a combination of both. There is the option to add images and charts as well as annotate body diagrams if you’re a physical practitioner. You can also do all your paperwork, such as writing letters to GPs, using PracticePal’s customisable templates and advanced inbuilt word processor – patient details are automatically inserted for you. If there is a template that you need for your work but can’t find, you can use the Clinical Form Designer tool to create your own tailor-made one. All correspondence is saved in the patient’s record, allowing you to see it all in one place.

 

To invoice for treatment, you can select a patient and go to the ‘Till’ button. This allows you to see a patient’s billable appointments and/or stock purchases then choose whether you will bill them directly or via a third party (e.g. health insurer). As different companies can require different invoice templates, you can set these up in the Tools section then select which template you want to use. You can add merge fields for your provider number and the patient’s healthcare reference so all the essential information is inserted for you. Invoices are generated as PDFs which can be printed and posted, or you can select ‘Print to PDF’ which allows you to email them instead. Once a payment has been received, simply go into the patient’s record and log the payment method. PracticePal has a particularly comprehensive list of options from the standard cash/cheque method to standing order and voucher. These features are provided in the Practice Income module (extra cost).

 

PracticePal doesn’t just help you to manage the clinical side of your practice but also helps you to monitor, market and expand your practice. The Reports section (in the Marketing Module) gives you the option of generating a myriad of reports for various purposes. For example, you can choose to view how many patients had a particular type of treatment, which referral sources are generating the most business for you, or how many patients came to you with a particular type of problem. From the financial side, you can generate reports for things like daily takings, income by referrer and cash accounting. You can also produce reports for your expenditure as PracticePal has a function which allows you to record expenses and the categories they fall under for tax purposes (extra module). This allows you to have a complete record of the financial health of your business and allow you see areas for potential growth. Results can be shown in a PDF format or exported to Microsoft Excel. 

 

The ability to target your marketing using PracticePal is a strong feature of this programme, with the optional Marketing module (extra cost). The sophisticated database filters, which you can customise to your own practice, allow you to target highly specific client groups or third parties with information and offers. The filters are so advanced that you could even select everyone whose birthday fell in a specific month to send them a discount voucher as a gift. The detail that PracticePal’s filters can extract are superior to most other practice management packages currently available.

 

PracticePal is a quality practice management package which is easy to use and very advanced. As a sole practitioner, you won’t be paying for potentially redundant features and you can choose which modules you need on top of the core package so you can control your costs. PracticePal prides itself on developing its software in response to client feedback and thinking about what the client needs, which really shows in their software. There no contract and you can leave PracticePal at any time. Whereas many other practice management programme providers would charge you to retrieve your data in this situation, PracticePal has a My Database tool which lets you download your data into a Microsoft Excel document at no additional cost.

 

If you are looking to run and grow a thriving business, PracticePal is one of the best practice management programmes on the market. You can access it anytime from a number of different devices which makes it fully portable. It allows you to run your clinical work smoothly and efficiently whilst also helping you to maximise your marketing opportunities through exceptionally detailed analysis of your data. If you only have a small practice, you might find the cumulative cost of all the additional modules on top of the core modules a bit pricey at £43 (excluding VAT) but the extra business it could generate for you through increasing your efficiency and referrals should offset this. You can also pick and mix modules to meet your needs rather than paying for features you don’t need so it’s very cost-effective. It’s well worth booking your online demo today!

 

Ratings:

 

Overall rating: 4/5

Ease of installation: N/A – hosted package

User-friendliness: 4/5

Help and support: 5/5

Value for money: 4/5