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Instead of relying on paper, clinics are improving their office practices with EHR software.
You can use EHR software systems to increase your office’s efficiency, improve billing, and increase health information accuracy.
Software can help you navigate regulations that affect your practice, making it easier for you to focus on patient care. EHR software can also prevent documentation and billing mistakes by helping you remember how to correctly record health notes and data. Rather becoming distracted from your work, you can transform your approach to other office tasks.
For many practices, the benefits of an EHR system are tangible enough that the cost of implementation and the time needed to train staff are offset by the savings they generate. In fact, one study asking physicians about the EHR systems they use found that more than two thirds would choose the same EHR system and vendor again.¹
Ditch the paper
If you are spending too much time hunting for patient charts, EHR software can reduce the time wasted each day looking for and transmitting patient information. This can add a significant amount of extra time to your day and allow you to see additional patients or end your workday earlier. If, for example, your office saves a half hour per day, that could translate into additional patient encounters over the course of a week and ultimately make the costs of an EHR system worthwhile.²
There are many advantages to streamlining your office with EHR software, including:¹
- Accuracy: Record and retrieve accurate information about your patients.
- Efficiency: Quickly and efficiently access patient information, particularly in urgent and emergency situations. With less paperwork to manage, you might see savings in filing costs, record storage, and other areas.
- Better coordination: Communicate key information to others without the hassle of securely and efficiently transporting paper. View records without physically transporting paper documents between exam rooms and make changes or additions to documentation quickly.
- Share with patients: EHR software usually makes it easier to share records with patients and provide caregivers or family members access, allowing patients to be more involved in their treatment plans.
These benefits can make your work easier, reduce staffing hours, and ultimately save your practice time and money.
Steps to streamlining with EHR
If your practice is ready to realize the benefits of EHR, the federal government’s Health IT website suggests taking the following steps:³
- Assessment: Before you begin, you should carefully examine your practice’s needs and begin planning the implementation process. You need to determine what technical, financial, practical, and other issues will influence the experience and impact your choices of vendors, equipment and software options.
- Planning: After your assessment, you are ready to begin creating a plan and approximate timeline for implementation.
- Choose your software: You are now ready to choose a vendor and software system at this step. Be sure to ask possible vendors plenty of questions upfront and compare features with your practice’s needs and budget. Choose a certified EHR in order to ensure sufficient compliance and software quality.
- Implement, test, and train: At this stage, you are beginning to install your software, transfer, and transcribe paper records into the new system, train staff members in using the EHR and test the systems before they officially go live. Most EHR vendors will provide extensive guidance throughout this process, so be sure to get adequate help and training during implementation.
- Meaningful use: During this phase you will ensure that your new system meets meaningful use standards and that your practice has sufficient training and preparation to use EHR efficiently and in compliance.
- Continuous improvement: On an ongoing basis, you should test your EHR and look for possible improvements to your own work processes and use of the new system.
Assess, plan, and start streamlining
Initially, these steps do cost time and money, but represent an investment in your practice that may bring substantial returns over time as your office becomes more efficient. With the savings generated by EHR use, your practice may be able to see more patients and provide higher quality care.
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¹Healthit.gov. “Why Adopt EHRs? Better Information Means Better Care.” https://www.healthit.gov/providers-professionals/why-adopt-ehrs. Last Updated: August 2014. Accessed: July 2016.
²Lorenzi NM, Kouroubali A, Detmer DE, Bloomrosen M. “How to successfully select and implement electronic health records (EHR) in small ambulatory practice settings.” BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making. http://bmcmedinformdecismak.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1472-6947-9-15. Published: February 2009. Accessed: July 2016.
³ Healthit.gov. “How to Implement EHRs.” https://www.healthit.gov/providers-professionals/ehr-implementation-steps. Last Updated: April 2013. Accessed: July 2016.