A great way to find new ideas for your own practice is to consider what professionals outside the chiropractic specialty are doing that works well.
Managing a healthcare practice of any kind has common factors such as workflow, care coordination, and patient engagement. Electronic health records (EHR) can have an impact on many parts of the practice management puzzle, regardless of the expertise. EHR case studies provide practical examples to follow.
DCs can be left out of the care coordination loop, and using a certified EHR can help with that. In one case study, a solo family practitioner, Jennifer Brull, MD, met the stage one meaningful use care coordination objectives through the use of an EHR.1 Here are three benefits Brull documented while using an EHR:
- Exchange of key information – Brull used an EHR that was fully integrated with the systems at two other practices. Integration made it easy to access patient history, clinical diagnoses, and allergy lists, among other things.
- Quick access to clinical summaries – Clinical summaries were easily exchanged and documented as patients were discharged from hospitals, or going through other transitions in their care.
- Prescription reconciliation – An updated list of each patient’s medications was maintained and readily available with an EHR. This created an accurate view of patient prescription history as well as allowed for instant updating.
There are often challenges when a practice implements a new system. Aquidneck Medical Associates, a local, Rhode Island-based referral network, faced challenges when they implemented their EHR system.2 Here are three challenges they faced and their recommendations in avoiding those during your transition:
- Patient volume – They chose to implement the new EHR during high-volume flu season, making it a difficult transition. High patient volume slowed the learning process of the new system as well as increased the time needed to process each patient. They recommend transitioning during a typically slow time.
- Comfort with technology – Many of their nonphysician staff lacked computer skills, making the learning curve steeper for those. They recommend staff training to learn those basic computer skills prior to implementation.
- Availability of the EHR vendor – They often had to contact the vendor for minor questions. They recommend having someone accessible to the staff who is thoroughly trained to use the new system to provide day to day assistance with learning.
With an EHR, patient information of all types is easily accessible and less administrative staff is required to manage it.2 These, among other factors, outweighs the challenges of transitioning. Planning for these challenges and learning lessons from what physician practices face will lead to an easier transition to an EHR system.
1 HealthIT.gov. “Solo Family Practitioner Demonstrates Care Coordination with Referring Physicians.” http://www.healthit.gov/providers-professionals/brull-case-study. Published May 2013. Accessed July 2015.
2 HealthIT.gov. “EHRs Improving Care Coordination with Local Referral Network.”http://www.healthit.gov/providers-professionals/ehrs-improving-care-coordination-local-referral-network. Published February 2013. Accessed July 2015