Understanding your Practice Management Software: Categories


Categorizing in your Practice Management (PM) Software is a method in which you group products and services with other similar products and services for reporting purposes. In Officemate, they call it Financial and Production Groups and in CrystalPM, it’s classified as a Category. For all intents and purposes, we will use category and group interchangeably.


It’s Important to Categorize!
Proper categorization is crucial in producing accurate metrics. Here are the two common mistakes when categorizing products and services:

Missing Categories - Let’s say, for instance, at the beginning of the year your practice began prescribing the new Progressive Brand X lenses. You feel that the dispensary has had success filling these new progressives, but when you look at the % of Progressive Pairs you’ve sold, you are significantly down compared to the same period last year.

Reports rely on the proper categorization of your products and services. Just one missing category for a single product can heavily skew your metrics. In this example, if you take a look at your setup again you may have found that you forgot to add a category to that newly created lens. You may then fix it and then re-run your reports - hopefully your metrics will show growth in your favor.

Miscategorization - This is just as harmful as a missing category. For example, if you start selling a new Premium AR lens but categorize it as a Standard AR lens, then you may still see a high AR capture rate. Categorizing it this way won’t differentiate between Premium and Standard AR, and this may affect your profitability reports.

Basic Categorization

Practice management software solutions have done a decent job creating default categories for their products and services for effective reporting. By ensuring that your products are at least categorized into these categories, you can produce basic reports. Here is what your practice management software’s default categories look like:

In Officemate:

In CrystalPM:


Advanced Categorization

Don’t be afraid to change your default categorization! Your software solution, more than likely, allows you to customize your groups/categories for reporting purposes.  
In the Officemate Administration Manual, Financial and Production Report Groups are edited in Setup->Customization in Administration page 23:


In CrystalPM, Categories are edited in the Billing section of Admin, which you can find in CrystalPM Manual, page 9-3:

Categorization Strategy

If you call Officemate and ask how they would recommend setting up Financial and Production groups, they will tell you that it varies from office to office and to start off with the default groups. The best piece of advice they give: your financial groups will usually be general and your production groups can be a little more specific.  

Essentially, your categorization strategy is going to be based on what you’d like to track using your PM software’s reports. If you feel that the default reports of your PM software will track what you want, then there is no need to edit your categorization. However, if you would like your reports to be comprehensive, then you need to edit your categories.

In my Key Metrics Project Spreadsheet (free, upon request), you have the ability to track over 50 key metrics and produce recommended actions based on those metrics. To produce those metrics, it requires at least 10 different PM software reports which use categories you designate.  

Here are the questions you need to ask when categorizing your products and services:
  • What do you want to track? What categories are needed to track what I want?
  • When will you track it? Yearly, Quarterly, Monthly, or Weekly?
  • How detailed do you want to get? Given your desired tracking schedule, do you want to lump ophthalmic lenses into one big group to calculate capture rate? Or do you want to separate it out by single vision, bifocal, near variable focus, and progressive?
  • Who will run the reports? How easy is it?
  • How do I run a certain report? Document your procedures

All of these questions should weigh on how you should categorize your products and services. These deciding factors are why no two offices categorizational setups are exactly the same.

My Recommendation

If you want complete metrics, take a look at the Key Metrics Project Spreadsheet and that should give you a map of what categories you may need and work backwards from there:

  1. Your goal is to obtain complete Key Metrics.
  2. rows 25-29 on Auto-Report
    Analyze the Auto-Report items. How are the metrics organized in relation to your product and services categories?
  3. Analyze your Worksheet. How do those inputs further refine your organizational methodology?
  4. rows 13-17 on Worksheet
    Run a test report in your PM software. List the reports that are missing to get your worksheet figures.
  5. Build your reports and filter using your categories.

Now that you have an overview of the role that categories play in your metrics, you will understand my next segment: Reporting. If you have any questions, feel free to tweet me at @caquinoconsult

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