On the surface, it seems easy to compare the pricing of clinic software. You just need to visit a few websites or at worst, call a few salespeople to get quotes. You now know how much you will be paying upfront, and how much your ongoing costs will be.
The only problem with this approach is that you are relying on the clinic software companies to be telling you all of the costs that you will incur. Not only do they probably not want to, but they really can’t. The costs you will incur in purchasing and using clinic software are very specific to your business, it is up to you to work them out.
Have you considered these 10 hidden costs?
This might mean computers for reception and your treatment rooms, this may be a server, or it could be iPads for your practitioners. Possibly it is even a wireless router and modem for your internet. Are you taking care of backups yourself? You may need to purchase external disk drives or similar to store them on. You may already have everything you need, but make sure you find out and add it to your budget.
2IT technical assistance
Depending on the system you purchase, and the computer setup that you have, you may need to get a consultant in to help you set up your network, server, your computers, or even install the software if required. Are you able to configure your backups and security yourself? This may also be something you need assistance with. Cloud based solutions can help keep these costs down, but keep in mind this will probably be an upfront cost, as well as on-going.
If training is required for your clinic software, you can expect to pay quite a price for this. Typically clinic software companies that charge for training do so at quite a high rate as they have a monopoly on this service. Make sure you include this in your budget, and also consider re-training down the track for new staff or when major upgrades come out.
Many clinic software companies will charge for transferring your existing data into the new system. This can easily cost a few hundred dollars at minimum. Make sure you get a quote for this in advance.
Customer support might be a monthly/annual charge, or you may need to pay when you need it. This will likely be an on-going cost that you will need to include in your budget.
63rd party software licensing
Depending on the system you use, you may be required to purchase additional software licensing to support the software. A good example is Microsoft Windows Server, or even Microsoft SQL Server. If you have a system that requires you to have your own server in house, this can be a huge addition in costs.
Many clinic software applications will give you a base functionality with your standard license, and require you to pay extra to unlock advanced features. Make sure you work out what you will need from the start, and include any additional costs in your quote.
Every clinic software application that offers SMS appointment reminders will be charging you extra for SMS credits. These usually range anywhere from 10c — 25c per SMS. At 25c per SMS, with just 50 appointments per week, that already adds up to over \$50 p/month. With a busy clinic, the SMS credits can cost as much as the software itself, so don’t underestimate the importance of the SMS credit pricing.
9Data lock in
If it is not easy to get your data out of software, then you are going to be up for a lot of time and cost wasted down the track if you choose to change which clinic software you are using. It is very important to make sure you own your data and can get it back out easily if you decide to switch systems. This can be a very substantial cost down the track and even cause you to be a locked into a system that perhaps isn’t keeping up with the times.
If your clinic software is not easy to use, you will spend extra for each function you need to perform. The amount of hours/days you will waste over time with this can be enormous. The amount of time you also need to spend training each new receptionist or practitioner will also cost you in the long run. If you need to read a 100 page manual before you get started, that is a big warning sign. Good software should be intuitive and just work as you expect it to, if you can’t get in there and work it out quickly, I would really consider if it is the right system for you.
In summary, there is plenty you can do to reduce or eliminate each of these costs, either by choosing the right clinic software in the first place, or appropriate planning upfront. The most important thing is to know what your costs are going to be before making a decision, so that your decision is an informed one.
Cliniko is amazing practice management software for healthcare businesses. Visit https://www.cliniko.com to see for yourself.