If you’re starting a new chiropractic office, you’ve probably wondered about how you’ll be handling the billing and health records.
Any moment now, you’ll have patients coming in through that front door and they’ll need to have their information recorded and stored with you.
From there, you’ll need policies and procedures that are fully compliant with all applicable regulations so that your office can quickly handle information requests and other needs for patient data.
When’s the best time to invest in an EHR system for a new practice?
Starting out right with EHR
In many ways, the simplest strategy is to just start your new practice from the beginning with an EHR system. This is because starting new provides you with a great degree of flexibility. Your new office will be going through an implementation process of some kind—paper or EHR. Either way, you’ll be tasked with any training, planning and rollout of new processes.
Compared with starting a paper-based office and later on making the transition to EHR, it can be so much simpler to just use EHR from the very beginning. Keep in mind that even a paper practice requires time to establish your procedures and organize information management and storage.
The paper files, shelves, cabinets and accessories of paper-based records also probably mean upfront financial and time investment on your part. If you eventually plan to make the switch to EHR anyway, this can all represent an unnecessary waste for your business.
There’s an old saying that the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago and the next-best time to plant a tree is now. It’s also true with EHR.
If you already started your clinic and use a paper-based system, your records situation is definitely not hopeless and you can still bring a great EHR system to your practice.
To begin, you’ll need to begin a planning process to guide your practice smoothly into the records system in a way that won’t be as disruptive for your team and your patients.
Planning the transition
Even for a smaller office, there is still a multi-step process of transitioning into a new EHR system. The implementation process may take different forms, but may follow along a path similar to the following:
- Discovery: At this stage, your office is discovering the benefits and potential of EHR and trying to figure out where the technology might fit into the workflow and life of your practice.
- Planning: Next, you begin looking at what investment is necessary to bring your office up to speed with EHR. You’ll begin looking at equipment, training, time, software and more. You investigate vendors and find the right one for your office.
- Procurement: You’ve picked out a software vendor during the previous stage, so now you’re working on an implementation timeline and process with that vendor. You begin acquiring the equipment you’ll need.
- Implementation: Your new system is tested, installed and brought live. Each patient, for the purposes of records management, is essentially new to your practice and must have data manually entered or scanned-in. Appointments during this period could take longer temporarily as you and your team adjust. Training is ongoing to make sure everyone is comfortable or at least becoming more familiar with how to use your EHR.
- Support: During this stage, you’re using the new system and continually making adjustments as needed. Training and support from your vendor help you to keep everything at your practice running as smoothly as possible.
Through each of these stages, you should be prepared to question your assumptions and be open-minded. Do what you can to learn as ask questions.
If you are opening a new practice, you know you have a lot of challenges ahead as it is. Having the right EHR system can make these transitions easier and less stressful.
It is important to keep your clinic organized and prepared so it can operate more efficiently. EHR can help you do that, no matter how old or new your practice is.
McGregor, DM. “Evaluation of the steps for implementation of electronic health records for a small chiropractic practice in Northern Michigan.” J Chiropr Humanit. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3342798/. Published: December 2009. Accessed: July 2018.