Article Date: 7/1/2009

Why Your Practice Needs EHR
tech time

Why Your Practice Needs EHR

You'll enjoy the advantages of a fully integrated business intelligence system.


Electronic health records (EHR) has become a catch phrase that will likely be a practice priority for many of us in the coming years. Through the next few months, I'll discuss selection and implementation of EHR and related technology. Also, I'll review why our practices need EHR, and I'll discuss factors to consider when purchasing an EHR program, including matching a system to your practice and issues relevant to hardware acquisition. Finally, I'll discuss how to fully utilize EHR in your practice.

Why EHR?

Why should every practice consider EHR? Aside from the federal mandate to move the U.S. medical system to EHR by 2015 and the associated penalties of not doing so, EHR allows you to spend more quality time with patients on your practice and better customer service, and it provides a high quality of care. Here's how:

► With an integrated practice management system, EHR can target specific patient demographics, enabling you to create detailed marketing pieces and track leads provided by other patients regarding prospective new patients or businesses — a real competitive advantage.

► EHR can perform appointment scheduling while the patient is in the exam lane, generate, send and save medical and optical scripts and even send standardized post-op or referral letters via e-mail. All these activities streamline each patient encounter and increase practice efficiency by removing various steps in the workflow process.

► Many EHR systems allow for automatic recall (enhancing patient retention), and most can prevent life-threatening drug interactions by utilizing drug interaction software.

► EHRs enable you to import or draw images. You can draw pictures just as you would on paper, or you can import topography, visual fields, scanning laser ophthalmoscope, auto-refraction and keratometry readings, among others. This saves time, multiple print cartridges and reams of paper.

► Some EHR systems can compute service-level codes based on the exam screens filled, thus optimizing the coding levels selected and maximizing insurance reimbursement for each service.

► You can track provider charges and collections, AR, AP, adjustments, etc. You can file claims electronically. All these activities save time, reduce errors, improve efficiency and provide better care for your patients.

► Lastly, imagine tracking glasses and contact lens orders instantly or knowing with absolute certainty your current inventory and how long products have been there. Many EHRs even have direct interfaces with the major optical labs allowing for tight quality control and fast job processing. Many can also track a patient's previous purchasing habits and make suggestions as to possible patient preferences, enabling the optician to make better eyewear suggestions.

The competitive advantage

In summary, you'll have less demand for physical chart storage space, increased free time, reduced transcription, printing expense, and staffing, more effective marketing resources and improved collections. And, when done right, you'll have a savvy, fully-integrated, business intelligence system in place — a huge competitive advantage. OM

Next month we'll discuss, what you need to consider before purchasing the perfect EHR program for your office.


Optometric Management, Issue: July 2009