A good accounting system is critical in helping you run your office efficiently. It's also essential for patient insurance processing and managing your financials. An accounting system should be selected based on your needs and should be specific to running a professional practice.
There are many accounting systems available and most have common components such as:
- Accounts receivable
- Accounts payable
- Order entry
- Cost accounting
- Monthly reporting
- Inventory control
- Fixed assets
For a dental office, your accounting system will need to cover many of the same areas but also additional information unique to providing healthcare services to individuals with insurance coverage. Ideally your accounting system should tie into the patient record system to prepare bills, based on the services rendered, and post them to the patient accounting record. It should also accommodate claims processing so claims filed and paid electronically are easy to track and post to the patient's account.
Before you begin looking at different systems, talk to your accountant about what you'll really need. And also talk with other healthcare professionals who have successfully used accounting systems in a similar way. Speak with dentists and staff about which accounting systems they use and get their suggestions.
One of the most important things to look for in an accounting system is compatibility with other systems and software in the practice. This will be key to running your business office efficiently.
Another important feature is the ability to produce financial statements easily. For example, if you are going to the bank for a loan, can you prepare a current set of financial statements for the practice? Even better, can you provide a projection of how the practice will do for the remainder of the fiscal year based on the year-to-date results?
In addition to talking with other professionals in your area, contact your state dental association for possible recommendations. Many times an association will endorse a vendor, which means the organization has done the required due diligence and is comfortable in the quality of the product and vendor behind it.
You also might want to research the available software for accounting systems through buyers guides, typically updated and published annually.
A good general accounting package is Quickbooks, created by the same company that sells Quicken to home users. Check out www.intuit.com for more information. Another consideration is the availability of web-based programs featuring Cloud backup. Your practice faces enormous risk of losing data, and these systems provide safety and security without daily backup procedures.
But, before purchasing, weigh the pros and cons and get advice from members of your practice support team, such as your accountant, on what features you really need and what makes the most sense for your practice situation.