Medical billing and EHR software systems are often designed to have overlapping features that improve the functionality and usability of the systems in order to make them a “one-stop-solution” for a practice’s medical IT needs. As a result, medical billing software and EMRs end up being interchangeably used discounting the primary objectives of each of the systems.
Many EHR companies are going the whole way to provide doctors with a single, comprehensive solution that will help them achieve Meaningful Use by incorporating crucial features like clinical notes, patient information and history, medication/prescription/drug allergies, diagnosis/treatments/procedures, patient scheduling, appointment reminders, e-prescribing, electronically available results, scans and reports, patient education resources, clinical decision support as well as full-fledged medical billing programs.
Specialized medical billing software on the other hand, is particularly programmed to maintain and keep detailed records of tests, procedures, examinations, diagnoses and treatments conducted on patients. It combines this medical information with the patient’s policy details to formulate a complete medical record that is used to generate bills.
The software electronically submits these bills to the patient as well as the health insurance company for payment. Before a bill can be submitted to the policy provider, it has to be coded based on Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) and International Classification of Diseases (ICD-9/ICD-10) protocols. Medical billing software systems are programmed to automatically assign these codes based on the patient’s medical record. After reviewing the bill, the insurance company sends the appropriate payment (or notice of denial) notifying the patient and practitioner via an Explanation of Benefits (EOB) letter which is added to the patient’s medical billing record by the software. In case of a dispute, rectification of bills with errors or missing information and follow up on claims, the software will update the patient’s medical record and billing details with the revised information.
Medical billing and coding software is thus equipped to seamlessly and accurately handle all complex processes and correspondence involved in medical billing.
A typical base package of medical billing software would contain features that are restricted to medical billing and accounting functions like patient recordkeeping, claims processing, electronic claims submission, receivables management, patient billing and accounting integration. However, many software providers extend their scope to include features like practice management, scheduling and other administrative and clinical functions that are generally a part of EHR software systems.
Therefore, the difference between medical billing software and an EHR is that of core functionality. While medical billing software focuses on a practice’s medical billing procedures and billing-related administrative and financial processes, features of an EHR are primarily concentrated on clinical functions, records and outcomes.
Medical billing software may serve clinical EHR functions in addition to electronic billing and coding for greater versatility. The same is true for EHR systems that incorporate specialized medical billing and coding program features to supplement their clinical applications.