In this age of technology, things can change on a dime. If you’re a medical provider then longevity is everything. It gives you credibility and – if you’re talented and passionate about what you do –brings newly referred patients to your door.
Keeping up with current tech trends may not be your ‘thing.’ But, what about sustainability? (And by that, we don’t just mean paying the bills.) It is equally vital to be certain your practice continues to be relevant, and that includes using the ever-improving methods and processes your patients (and your workforce) deserve.
Here are six ways an EHR system can help to streamline your back office:
1. Patient Records Portability
If your practice currently has patient records digitally recorded for your internal use, it’s certainly a plus. However, that type of simple EMR (electronic medical record) is a far cry from the capabilities inherent in an EHR system. As a provider in an EHR network, you will have easy access to any documented new or referred patient – saving time and cost of adding history and prior treatment.
The EHR is a longitudinal electronic record (with correlational data) which can be generated or resourced from any care delivery setting. An EHR gives the patient the benefit of having their health records accessible by other physicians, specialists, hospitals, and nursing homes – even when crossing state lines.
2. Prescriptions Made Simple
Not only does this feature reduce the paperwork flowing around your office, but more importantly it serves as a secure place to enter and track a patient’s allergies and current medications (as well as prior prescriptions).
Your EHR software should include options to turn old-style prescription writing into a thing of the past. Now they can be entered from a variety of networked devices, such as a smartphone, tablet, or computer – then printed or faxed to a pharmacy via wireless local area network (LAN).
A pre-programmed list of commonly prescribed medicines will be set up in the software. There should also be a warning to the user that will alert them to any possible drug interactions or contradictions for the specific patient. Updates to the drug database should be made periodically, in order that new medicines can be added – and any with use restrictions can be modified accordingly.
3. Security Comes in Layers
Your EHR software should be HL7 compliant, so let’s take a look at where this comes from and why it’s important: The short answer is that HL7 is actually the user interface responsible for finding and revealing stored data to the user; it is also the layer which verifies user identity and privacy protocols. If you would like even more reasons to be confident in your patient’s privacy, read on.
In the late 1970s, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) (an independent, non-governmental organization) helped to create voluntary standards for its 164 member countries. It actually facilitates world trade by providing common standards between nations, and over 20,000 of its standards encompass a wide spectrum – from manufactured products and technology to food safety, agriculture and healthcare.
In 1984, these standards became the basic reference for the Open Systems Interconnection (OSI), which has 2 main components; a 7-layer model of networking, and a set of protocols (which allow entities to interact with each other).
Layers 1-6 have to do with the physical and raw bitstreams and their transmission over multi-node networks, the exchange of information via communications, and the presentation coding and encryption. Layer 7 (aka HL7) is the application layer’ of the OSI. It is closest to the end-user and is the place where a user interacts with the data via your software application’s communications component.
4. Decrease Wasted Resources
Not only will you spend less overall in web tools, software, and components, but as your practice grows the software still handles the details (without having to add more staff). Instead of requiring a larger clerical workforce, which can also increase your space requirements, you can focus on employing key people who provide specialized services which specifically contribute to the value of your practice.
With an EHR system, your staff’s productivity will increase exponentially. It’s amazing how much time is lost by having to ‘make something work’ that was never created with the needs of your specialty in mind. Smooth-running offices are less stressful, with fewer employee absences. And, happy workers are joyful contributors, which in turn makes your patients feel welcome and cared for.
When efforts aren’t wasted using antiquated administrative techniques, the focus becomes your treatment and the patients’ positive outcomes.
5. Quick and Easy Appointments
Having all scheduling, reminder alerts and availability displayed in one cohesive system will be one of the favorite functions for your staff. Patients can request appointments through an online portal, saving administrative clerks from juggling this all-important and painstaking task.
Available hours are entered and can be updated from any networked device. As long as accurate information is entered (availability and time slots for various types of services), the scheduling feature will basically run itself. Patient correspondence can also be auto-generated by email or text, requesting their confirmation, within a set number of hours or days prior to the appointment.
6. Get in Touch with Technology
There’s something new going on – around the world – called ‘digital disruption.’ And, no, it doesn’t stand for wagging fingers or online chaos. It’s important you know about it, because it is actually already in full swing.
And, hang on tight, because the new d-i-s-r-u-p-t-i-o-n is the explosive evolution of startup businesses which are daring to employ new technology and imaginative innovations that challenge old ways. Medical providers willing to evolve their practices into something new and exciting – are winning, by becoming part of the solution.
Laura O’Donnell writes smart content on behalf of the EHR systems specialists at OmniMD. As an avid writer and learner, she loves to use her skills for engaging others in important topics in creative and effective ways. When she is not working, she loves meeting new people, traveling, and bringing her Pinterest dreams to life. Find her on LinkedIn.