April 30, 2012
When you’re running a busy practice, efficiency is king. Between providing excellent care and performing administrative duties, practices can’t afford to slog through procedures that could be better performed by EHR and practice management systems.
Increased efficiency is a major selling point of electronic health records, but you may hear the following caveat: “you will see a drop in productivity for a period of time, usually about six months, before you reach the level of productivity you had before implementation”. Don’t be fooled by this promise; an EHR that takes this long to learn and incorporate into your workflow is not likely to aid productivity in the long run.
Despite other powerful benefits of EHR (cost savings, quicker access to charts and other records, enhanced communication), an EHR that reduces productivity is not be a winning choice. An EHR that allows doctors to go home on time every night, however, scores a big win.
An EHR will require new responsibilities, though, which may require some adjustments to your workflow. Electronic devices require different procedures to keep the data safe, and the practice staff must be trained on how to use the software and update information in the correct fields. These changes shouldn’t be difficult to master; practices employing a well-designed EHR usually return to their normal flow very soon and at a higher efficiency.
Switching from paper to digital office technology far outweighs the burden of new responsibilities. Doctors can chart their notes much faster (in as little as 90 seconds), so rather than working through a big stack of notes at the end of the day, doctors can finish their notes as soon as the patient encounter is finished, while information is still fresh. Practices that use good speech technology will be able to eliminate all their transcription costs, and the front office staff will greatly appreciate the automated tools in practice management.
A good EHR will allow you, sooner than you might think, to see more patients, and even to go home on time every night. There is so much to be gained from a productivity-enhanced EHR; don’t sacrifice your productivity for an EHR that requires more of your time.