The transition to EHR software can be a challenging process.
Learning from chiropractors who have already been through the experience can help you know what to expect.
Adjusting to the new process
After shopping around and comparing software from different vendors, some clinics choose EHR with a company they are already familiar with. If you are already using practice management software, you may find that your software vendor also has a great EHR product.
William Charschann, DC and owner of Charschan Chiropractic and Sports Injury Associates, ultimately decided to use his vendor’s EHR software after researching competitor products. His software is self-hosted with a peer-to-peer server and accessed with desktop computers. After gradually adjusting to the software, his clinic is fairly happy with their EHR and has found technology strategies that work well for them.
“Changing would require migrating platforms, and combined with the expense would have been foolish,” he says. “I spoke to an expert who said many doctors were adopting the EHR already in the system.”
From there, his clinic began migrating patient data into the new system. Within six months, most patient information and new patient charts were imported. Adjusting to a new work flow, knowing how to use the software’s templates, and finding the right input devices took time. Investing time in setting up the EHR correctly and experimenting with the software eventually paid off.
“Updates and new patients, of course, take extra time,” he says. “I put in the basics and finish them later with the diagnosis.”
Initially, he says accessed the EHR on a laptop. Because laptops are easily portable, he thought they would provide his clinic with a low-cost and more-efficient alternative to desktop computers. Ultimately, though, he switched to touchscreen desktops. When he is away from the clinic, he is also able to access the system remotely.
Because the type of device used can significantly impact the EHR experience, Charschann suggests that other chiropractors shop around carefully and be willing to try different options. Just as clinics should try multiple EHR demos, paying attention to the hardware needs of the clinic is important too.
“Having the wrong device will cost you in productivity. We found these all-in-one [desktop computers] on sale,” he says. “We used the computer that does our digital x-ray as another in the exam room, and have seven total computers running with a peer-to-peer server.”
Making the choice
Clinics who implemented EHR software at the very beginning have fewer transitions to make. For these chiropractors, the EHR transition is typically easier and the clinic can choose a product based on other factors. With so many options available, however, becoming overwhelmed by all of the choices is a very real possibility.
Jeanett Tapia, DC of Intouch Chiropractic, says she has always used EHR.
“I implemented EHR from the very beginning, because I knew it was inevitable,” she says.
After comparing different systems and demos, she chose a self-hosted program. The software she chose is best for clinics that primarily bill patient insurance plans, although she finds that she does not use these features very often. She said comparing different programs was very difficult.
“The worst part was not being able to compare apples to apples. I recommend that you get demos of all of the programs you are interested in to start.”
Even if the software seems expensive, Tapia believes that clinics should purchase or subscribe to the product that seems best for them. If it fits your needs, it may save your clinic from unnecessary heartache and difficulty. After implementing the program, Tapia realized she wishes she chose different software. Because the process is expensive and difficult, doing your research may help you avoid choosing the wrong program.
Addressing the learning curve
With any EHR change, be ready to spend a lot of time learning and adjusting your work flow. Every practice is different and some clinics have unique challenges that lengthen the implementation process.
“We have four different specialties in our practice, making it difficult to integrate,” says Scott Schreiber of Delaware Back Pain and Sports Rehabilitation Center.
“We have purchased a fully-customizable EHR system, however, it is bare-bones and the specific specialty questions and specific tests have to all be templated, which is very daunting.”
Alongside these roadblocks, Schreiber says the software is not necessarily intuitive for everyone. Some doctors have to spend more time learning the new EHR—meaning that not everyone in the office is immediately comfortable with the software changes.
Sharing EHR experiences
EHR implementation can be challenging and overwhelming, but it does not have to be impossible. Whether you are implementing new EHR or know someone who is going through the process, talking with other chiropractors about the experience can help you identify new solutions and become more tech-savvy.