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Medical practice management 101: Scalability

Posted Sep 29 2009 10:16pm

In this new series on The Healthcare Entrepreneur Blog, we’ll be taking a look at a number of medical practice management concepts that medical practice managers, administrators, and clinic owners should consider as part of their planning and day-to-day management.  The principles we’ll be outlining as part of the Medical Practice 101 series are applicable to all types of medical practices including general medicine, the surgical specialties, and rehabilitation services such as physical and occupational therapy.

Here, we’ll discuss the concept of scalability as relevant to medical practice management.  Scalability is the ability for a medical practice to expand its current systems, infrastructure, operations, and staff alongside the growth of the practice over a number of months or years.  Scalability is an area of medical practice management that is not always fully considered when planning for the implementation of electronic medical records and business systems used to run and administer the medical practice, and can end up costing a medical practice severely in terms of time and money in order to meet the changing demands of a practice over time.

When planning for the use of electronic medical records (EMR) and practice management software (PMS), one of the scalable solutions that we like around here is the the use of web-based software or software-as-a-service (SAAS).  The use of web-based or SAAS solutions allows a practice to operate one medical facility just as easily as operating two or more sites because the infrastructure used to link each user with the medical practice database exists via the internet.  The need for a robust hardware infrastructure, including servers and virtual private networks (VPN’s) is minimized, and with it – the upfront cost of implementation.

Web-based software is typically provided on a per-user license basis, meaning that as additional providers or staff join the practice, additional licenses (or ’seats’) are purchased which allow the medical practice to easily grow, or ’scale’ their investment alongside the growth of the medical practice.  Web-based software is a very scalable solution when it comes to medical practice management, which is why our medical practice consultants often recommend web-based solutions to our clients when determining solutions that will allow them to continue with their medical practice management infrastructure over the long haul.
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Tannus Quatre is a private practice consultant and principal withVantage Clinical Solutions, Inc., a nationwide healthcare consulting and management firm located in Bend, OR and Denver, CO.  Tannus specializes in the areas of healthcare marketing, strategy, and finance, and can be reached through the Vantage Clinical Solutions website.

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