Embrace industry standards as they evolve and you’ll reap the benefits.
Change persists all around us, and as a wise man once noted: it is also inevitable. As the world evolves in the digital realm, perhaps nothing has witnessed such drastic upheaval over the last 10 years than the area of healthcare software and technology. As you well know by now, the stacks of paper that once overtook doctors’ offices have been replaced with a new challenge: converting them to electronic records of every form.
Consider how much of your daily routine as a chiropractor is now automated, or has the potential to be. Now, stretch your mind to remember how these tasks were done a decade ago, and where the industry stood with technology at that time:
- The only real software available to chiropractors was for billing and clumsy scanning systems for notes.
- Patient notes were mostly rudimentary travel cards.
- Scheduling systems were mostly handled by paper appointment books and kept by hand.
- There was no communication between different software systems so everything had to be double entered.
- Paper charts were the order of the day.
- The cost of office supplies, paper, photocopying, filing, record searching, and postage could overwhelm many offices.
Just as technology has changed dramatically over the last 10 years, so has chiropractic. Remember the push- button landline phone, and the unforgettable scratching sound of Internet dial-up? Today, smart phones can control your house’s heating, cooling, and security, while they also have the ability to open and lock doors and even start your car.
With these developments, technology allows chiropractic office management systems to be totally integrated. This means all elements of your practice can work seamlessly together. From scheduling, patient notes, recordkeeping, and billing, integration has eliminated the need for double data entry, reduced staff time, and greatly increased doctor and patient efficiencies.
Cloud-based systems have in many ways improved security and emergency data recovery issues. Now, in case of fire, tornado, or hurricane, your data is safe and available from wherever you may be. In fact, the ability of patients, staff, or doctors to access data and records from anywhere, anytime via a variety of mobile, phone, and computer workstation devices has become the norm instead of the exception.
Current EHR systems allow chiropractors to use true doctor-centric technology platforms built from scratch for the chiropractic profession. And better yet, you can customize those platforms to fit your practice style and protocols. Some systems have even made the promise of the paperless office a reality, allowing you to easily create, add, and integrate any form into the comprehensive system.
Many chiropractors have discovered that they can hold their heads high and meet third-party organizations eye-to-eye because their systems uphold, and even exceed, federal guidelines and regulations. In fact, nearly 6,800 chiropractors have received over $83 million dollars through the process of meaningful use in the EHR incentive program. With another 5,000 DCs ready to qualify for an incentive check this year, the total payout comes to over $127 million by the end of 2014.
But even those who choose not to adopt the meaningful use process are finding that today’s EHR technology allows for a reduction in costs, increased income, more efficient staff and doctor time utilization, and a more positive patient experience.
Technology is ever changing. Practices are ever changing. Together, workflow can be made easier with technology driving better patient outcomes, creating greater office efficiencies, and propelling overall practice success into a reality.
Steven J. Kraus, DC, DIBCN, CCSP, FASA, FICC, is founder and CEO of Future Health, a company that partners with chiropractors to deliver a comprehensive clinic management solution, including fully integrated EHR. He lectures to state associations and at industry events regarding EHR and its relationship to documentation. He can be reached at 888-919-9919, ext. 652; at firstname.lastname@example.org; or through futurehealthsoftware.com.