Sunday, September 9, 2007

Top Reasons to Implement an Electronic Medical Records Software System

Implementing an electronic medical records (or electronic health records) software system can be a daunting task for smaller physician practices - so daunting, in fact, that it's easy to lose sight of all the reasons why making the transition is worth the trouble. There are countless benefits of electronic medical records (EMR) systems. Here are a few of our favorite reasons why you should ditch the paper and add an EMR to your office practice.

EMRs Give You Better Access to Data

Pull a patient chart within seconds, not minutes. Even the most basic electronic medical records systems mean no more wasting time searching for charts.

Open a patient's chart on any computer in your office. With many EMR systems, you'll be able to open a patient's chart from anywhere in the world! Medicine isn't always practiced in the office. Duty sometimes calls at home or on vacation - usually late at night, right?

It helps that more than one person can work with a chart at the same time. In most cases, that means greater efficiency and reduced costs.

An EMR Facilitates Better Charting

With an EMR, you'll stop worrying about chicken-scratch handwriting. You might be able to read what you wrote, but your local pharmacist (and your malpractice carrier!) will appreciate the improvement in your notes.

Let your patients complete a computer guided medical history at home or in your office. Many EMR or EHR systems facilitate this process, and allow the information to be automatically uploaded into the electronic medical record.

Effortlessly (well, relatively effortlessly) import diagnostic images, lab results and hospital discharge summaries into the patient record. Almost all EMR software systems will also let you update medication and problem lists with every visit.

Build flow sheets and create graphs for all kinds of data. Visually analyze blood pressure, HbA1c, weight ... the list goes on. An EMR/EHR system also puts thousands of procedure and diagnostic codes at your fingertips.

Electronic Medical Records Improve Care Management

Use an electronic medical records system to track pending orders for lab tests and diagnostic imaging. Those that are long overdue may signal lost reports or patient noncompliance. In many cases, you can use your EMR system to spot trouble before it's really trouble.

Affordable EMR Software Options: Is ASP Right For You?

Use your EMR to receive automatic reminders in the exam room when a patient is due for preventive or disease-management services. Even the best physicians won't remember everything. Let the software help you. For that matter, use the EMR to remind you of evidence-based guidelines for diagnosing and treating conditions while you talk to the patient. With most electronic medical record systems, you'll be able to quickly produce a list of all patients due for a preventive test; in some cases, the EMR software will print reminder letters that can be mailed to patients.

Print a copy of the progress note and give it to the patient at the end of the visit. Or put his entire record on a mini "thumb" drive that he can take home. Don't want to get this advanced with your software system? Use it to print patient education handouts in the exam room, or before the patient leaves your office.

Better Prescribing with EMR Software

Almost every EMR software system includes an e-prescription function. E-prescribing means less time talking to pharmacists and answering questions about what you've written. Use the extra time however you please - spend more time with your patients, or more time with your family.

Does Your E-Prescribing Software Pass the Test?

E-prescribing software also lets you fax prescriptions from your computer to the pharmacy. This EMR function minimizes the chances a patient will lose or alter the prescription you've written. When it's time to reissue a script, simply give the mouse a few clicks and move on to the next patient.

Electronic medical record (EMR) software systems also tends to reduce the number of prescribing mistakes, alerting physicians to potential drug interactions, allergies or other situations that require extra caution. In the event of a drug recall, your EMR will let you immediately identify all patients taking the recalled drug. Many electronic medical records systems will print our reminder letters, and some will even telephone patients and play a pre-recorded message!

Boost Efficiency with an Electronic Medical Records System

No more flipping through pages upon pages of written notes. Use your EHR to review a concise (and real-time updated) summary of the patient's health information at a glance. Less time in the chart means more time with the patient.

The Most Important Questions to Ask EMR or EHR Vendors

Stay on top of your work with an electronic to-do list that includes incoming lab, radiology, and pathology reports. Most EMRs also collect and triage your in-office messages and telephone calls.

Don't like a good old game of phone tag? When patients call, answer their questions right away by pulling their record from the software. No more pulling the paper chart and calling them back.

Produce referral letters, school and work excuses, and other documents with a few clicks. You can also send messages to your nurse(s) without leaving the exam room.

Reduce staff downtime at the copy machine. When you need to share records with someone, transmit them electronically using your EMR software. Your copy machine will thank you.

Send claims faster by sending encounter information, including diagnostic and CPT codes, straight to your practice-management software.

Use an EHR to Lower Costs

How might you use an extra $10,000? That's how much you could save (per doctor, per year) on dictation and transcription costs. Let your electronic medical records system do the work for you at no additional charge.

Save several thousand dollars a year on paper chart supplies, not to mention several hundred trees, with your electronic medical records software system. While you're at it, save your stamps and use your EMR to electronically transmit charts.

Higher Income with Electronic Health Records

Qualify for "pay for performance" bonuses by tracking the care you provide and the outcomes you achieve for various groups of patients. True, those pay for performance incentives aren't particularly generous, but they'll help you pay for your electronic medical records software.

Automatically capture all your charges while you record what you do. While you're at it, reassign your transcriptionist and file clerks to help collect accounts receivable. You won't need a full time transcriptionist or file clerk with a decent EMR.

Medical Billing Software Option Includes Free EMR System

No more defensive coding! Confidently code for higher levels of service based on thorough EMR documentation. Use the software system's automatic E&M coding suggestions that are based on your documentation.

Of course, we'd be remiss if we didn't give thanks to Medical Economics for many of the ideas cited here.

Note: On this blog, the terms "electronic medical records" and "electronic health records" are used interchangeably.

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