Your practice has bought an EHR system. Although you have struggled with implementing, providers and staff are now familiar with the product and you are using daily in your practice. What’s the next step? How can you use digital records to decrease cost and improve clinical outcomes? Here are some ideas:
- Have patients fill out forms online instead of paper forms in the office. This will decrease wait times, give the patient to complete all the requested data without feeling rushed, allow patients to answer all the questions without skipping sections not having access to information. Some practices are even charging for not using on-line forms. While this may seem over-bearing, providers have found that creating a digital expectation of patients serves both the patient and the practice well.
- Lab and x-ray results can be posted in the digital record. Upon review, the provider can email (via a secure patient portal) patient with instructions or changes in medications. This will require patients and staff to use the EHR on a regular basis and may present a learning curve for both; but using on a regular basis will dramatically reduce phone calls and time on phone. This may provide opportunity to reduce front-end staff.
- No more paper charts mean a more organized and instantly retrievable chart. No more time spent hunting down pieces of paper, reading someone’s writing, or waiting for someone to finish with chart so others can chart or look at data. Multiple persons can both look at chart and record in chart at the same time.
- Downloading data from patients with similar conditions can help a provider more easily identify efficacy of treatments and medications. From data collection to treatment options now becomes a realized practice. Data manipulation and analysis will be the next big step for practices.