June 25, 2012 — Since most DCs will be integrating an electronic medical record system on the go, physical therapist and marketing expert, Nitin Chhoda, has released new guidelines to make the transition to a documentation software program easier.
Chhoda noted that it’s imperative that practice owners give themselves and their staff enough time to learn any new system that’s put in place. He offered the following tips for implementing a physical therapy EMR.
Determine a budget – The cost of a physical therapy EMR can vary greatly, depending on the vendor and how comprehensive the software. Some EMRs offer basic documentation, while others are an all-inclusive solution. Chhoda said it’s critical for therapists to assess how much they have to spend before evaluating a system. “You may have to hire additional help while staff members learn the new technology,” said Chhoda. “Be realistic. You could find yourself half way to full implementation and a depleted bank account.”
Project planning – Physical therapy documentation software is complex. Depending on the software, it can include billing, patient scheduling and a host of other features. A project plan helps therapists establish a realistic timetable for installation, learning and deadlines.
Project manager – Assign a single go-to person within the practice to oversee the project to eliminate inefficiency, redundancy and confusion. Too many cooks spoil the soup and the same is true when implementing an EMR that affects every facet of the practice. If no one is available or qualified for the task, consult with the vendor about providing a project manager.
Hardware – Physical therapy EMRs are available that operate on a variety of platforms, from desktop computers to iPads. Equipment that’s old, outdated and slow will cause nothing but frustration and inhibit implementation. Chhoda said in his experience, a portable tablet-based system such as the free In Touch EMR software developed by inventor Ritika Gulrajani PT, DPT, offers greater flexibility.
Patience – A workable EMR solution doesn’t happen overnight. Keep goals realistic and have patience. The learning curve isn’t the same for everyone and introducing changes gradually allows everyone to achieve proficiency. Inundating staff with too much information all at once does nothing but create frustration, tension and an unhappy office environment that will be obvious to patients.
Over the years, Chhoda has implemented numerous office systems in his own practice. An EMR for physical therapy billing and services opens a myriad of new opportunities. Reimbursements will be recovered quicker, documentation is more efficient and available from a variety of locations, and patient care is enhanced. Chhoda’s new tips provide practical guidelines to facilitate the implementation of an EMR system in practices of any size.