Computerized Systems Of bookkeeping and Office Works For Medical Assistants

With increasing numbers of medical facilities turning to computers for word processing, patient records, and bookkeeping, there is an ever-increasing number of medical practice software packages on the market. These ready-made systems are available for both single or dual physician offices and large group practices. Often, a consultant is hired to design a customized program, though this is far more expensive than purchasing mass-produced software. When selecting and using any computer bookkeeping software:    
· Be sure the system will meet not only current needs but future needs as well (some packages can be expanded to grow with the practice)
· The hardware (computer system) must be powerful enough to run the program.    
· To use the automated system, it is necessary to understand the workings of the manual procedures on which the computerized accounting is based.    
Computerized Patient Accounts  
A software management program offers many advantages in managing patient accounts. The program automatically creates a charge slip at the time of each patient's visit and calculates the charges after the physician's examination (Figure 17-6). The management program also creates and updates the ledger card, adds new names to the list of patients and to the daily log, and transfers data to produce insurance forms, statements, a list of checks received each day, and deposit slips. In addition, the program automatically ages accounts at each billing cycle and creates billing statements. As a result, when patient accounts are computerized, practice collections usually increase.    
Computerized Patient Ledger       
The computerized patient ledger contains personal information about each patient, including the name, address, and telephone number, the person responsible for payment, and all insurance carriers. The ledger also lists all previous office visits and the procedures, procedure codes, charges, payments, and adjustments for each visit. Most account management software can be customized to meet the special needs of the individual ambulatory care setting.    
As information is entered from the charge slips, the computer automatically updates the ledger by adding a description of each procedure and procedure code and each diagnosis and diagnosis code (see Chapter 18 for coding information). It automatically posts the charges and calculates the balance after credits and adjustments are entered.    
The ledger may be viewed on the computer screen or printed out at any time. If a patient calls with a question regarding an account, the medical assistant can call up the ledger on the screen by entering the patient's name. When a correction is needed, it can be made on the screen and stored (Figure 17-7).    
As useful and efficient as a computerized bookkeeping system can be, it is important to recognize that an inadequate manual system will not get better once computerized. Also, it takes far more time than predicted to move to a computerized system, train personnel, and enter patient data. A manual and computer system may need to run concurrently for several months.    
Banking Procedures

Understanding banking accounts and services, making deposits, writing checks, and reconciling accounts are all a part of daily financial practices. While many banking services are similar from one bank to another, it is a good idea for the medical assistant in charge of maintaining daily accounts to investigate the banking resources of the local community. In an effort to secure new business, many banks compete for customers by offering special services that can be of utility to the ambulatory care setting.