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Your EHR system should be a real timesaver.
When you switch from traditional, paper documentation to an electronic health records (EHR) system in your practice, you aim to improve work flow, minimize required work space, or even take advantage of government incentives. But one often overlooked or unexpected benefit is improved efficiencies, which often equate to cost savings.
Time and space
With a paper-based system, space is required for charts, and your staff must spend time pulling and filing information often kept in multiple places. For example, appointments are likely stored in a scheduling book rather than with a patient’s chart, or insurance information may be filed separately.
With an EHR system, patient charts are digitally stored requiring only virtual space rather than physical real estate in your office. “Pulling” a chart means searching the patients name in the EHR system, not digging through mountains of paper. All information related to an individual patient is linked together for immediate access and available to multiple staff simultaneously.
It may be a cliché that doctors have bad handwriting. But these adages often have a grain of truth to them, and there’s a chance your penmanship is sometimes difficult to read. If you take notes on paper, your staff may be spending time deciphering them. If you use a voice recorder, you probably have transcription costs.
With an EHR, you are typing, which renders the problem moot. Some EHR systems even have voice to text options, which means the system handles all your transcriptions.
Money on your mind
When you consider the cost of an EHR system, you might wonder if purchasing one with lots of bells and whistles is worth it. After all, in addition to the upfront costs, you will likely need to pay for staff training, additional hardware, and ongoing operation costs. But savings in labor hours, chart chasing, transcription errors, and paper and toner purchases can outweigh the expenses. Additional timesavers can be implemented if the EHR you choose automates processes such as coding.
The decision to purchase and implement an EHR system will involve many factors. As with any business expense, you’ll need to look at the investment relative to your needs. Patient population, tech savviness, potential gains in efficiency over time, cash flow, and other details will dictate what is best for your practice.