In 2015, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 86.9 percent of office-based physicians were using some form of electronic medical records (EMR) system.
Has your office made the switch from paper records to electronic ones? If not, what are you waiting for?
Transitioning from paper records to an EMR system can be intimidating at first.
If you’re on the fence about switching things up in your medical practice, keep reading. We’ll take you through the benefits of an EMR system and share some helpful tips on making EMR integration as simple as possible.
What is EMR?
Electronic medical records are simply digital versions of the paper charts that physicians use to keep track of their patients’ medical and treatment history.
EMRs allow physicians to have access to all their patients’ information in one place. This is a great alternative to keeping track of thick paper files for each patient.
There are a number of benefits that come from making the switch to EMR, including the following:
Relying on paper records for all your patients leaves a lot of room for error. It can be hard to decipher some doctors’ handwriting, and it’s easy for sheets of paper to get lost or left behind when people are moving from one exam room to the next.
With electronic medical records, everything stays in one place. This way, doctors, and nurses don’t have to run back and forth to get information about their patients.
The increased accessibility is especially important for complex or emergent situations. It saves time and ensures accuracy when it’s needed most.
Imagine several doctors are working with one particular patient.
What happens if one doctor notices something on an image but isn’t able to reach all the others on the case to let them know about it? People are left out of the loop, and the patient could be in danger if everyone isn’t up to speed.
Electronic medical records make it easy for doctors to exchange observations, test results, and even diagnostic images with each other in real time. Once they’re noted in a patient’s electronic file, all the other doctors involved in that patient’s treatment are automatically informed. As a result, the patient gets better, more targeted care.
Losing even one page of a patient’s file can be disastrous for a medical practice. Electronic medical records allow you to avoid misplacing important data. Data backup also ensures that your files are protected in the event of a fire or other disaster.
The risk of theft also goes way down with EMR integration because only authorized users have access to a patient’s information.
Better Patient Management
Electronic records also make it easier for doctors to keep track of their patients and identify those who might be due for screenings and preventive visits. They can also monitor their patients’ stats to see how they measure up to certain parameters, like weight and blood pressure readings.
Doctors see so many patients throughout the day, and it’s not uncommon to forget a patient’s allergies or the other prescriptions they’re on.
If a doctor forgets that a patient is allergic to a particular drug, or doesn’t realize that their prescription will react badly with one that they’re taking, the end results could be disastrous.
This is one of the greatest benefits of electronic medical records. They increase patient safety by automatically initiating drug-to-drug and drug-to-allergy interaction checks as soon as a prescription is written.
5 Steps for Successful EMR Integration
Some medical practices are hesitant to move forward with EMR integration because they’re worried that the transition will disrupt the flow of their office. It can be difficult to adjust from paper records to electronic ones. But, the benefits of this switch can’t be ignored.
These tips will help practices implement an EMR system as smoothly as possible.
1. Choose the Right System
The right EMR system will make all the difference in the integration process. Look for an easily customizable, user-friendly software that everyone in your office will be comfortable with.
Pay special attention to the system’s design and make sure it’s navigable and that everything is easy to read. Bad design will slow everyone down and make integration much more difficult.
2. Plan Ahead
Don’t just throw a new patient management system at the employees in your practice and tell them to sink or swim. Good EMR integration requires careful planning and evaluation of your current practice.
Before getting started, take some time to set up a testing plan to make sure everyone knows how to handle the new system. Give people plenty of advance notice about the testing and make sure you allocate enough time for everyone to get comfortable.
3. Assign a Project Manager
Again, don’t just leave the members of your staff to fend for themselves with this new system. Appoint a project manager (ideally someone who is tech-savvy) to serve as a resource for everyone who will be using the system.
The project manager will be there for people who have questions about the system and will help eliminate confusion and decrease overall learning time.
4. Start Slow
Don’t think you have to do everything all at once. It takes awhile for everything to be transferred from paper to digital files. Most integration processes take between six and nine months.
Start by converting only essential information like patient medical history and their latest lab tests. This will help people to start relying less on paper files, but they won’t be overwhelmed trying to transfer everything in one fell swoop.
Don’t be afraid to adjust the workflow during the transition process, either. And, be sure to encourage your staff and let them know you appreciate their willingness to make the switch.
5. Arrange for Training from Your Vendor
Most EMR software vendors will provide you with training to make sure you fully understand how to use their product. Ideally, this training will take place in your own practice.
When you’re getting training from your vendor, make sure to ask about best practices for utilizing all aspects of the system. You’ll also want to double check the system before going live to ensure it’s consistent and address any bugs or mistakes as soon as you notice them. Remember, waiting and expecting these issues to take care of themselves sets you up for disaster later on.
Get Started Today
As you can see, EMR integration is not as scary as you might have initially thought, especially when you take steps to help everyone in your office smoothly transition.
If you’re ready to start your EMR integration, contact us at Raintree Inc. today!
Simply fill out our online form, and someone will contact you within 24 hours to set up a free demonstration of our system.