Studies show that almost half of all healthcare clinics currently use electronic health records. Most users agree that digital technology successfully streamlines work processes, increases productivity, and improves customer service while expanding a clinic’s reach to other practices.
But measurable EMR success begins with a better understanding of what EMR systems can (or cannot) do for your medical practice. Let’s discuss three of the most common misconceptions about implementing EMR software as part of your medical practice.
Myth #1 – EMR Implementation Is Expensive
Much like purchasing medical equipment, there is a cost associated with converting to EMR, but let’s consider where some of your money is going right now:
- Did you know that it costs around $25,000 to fill a four-drawer filing cabinet and over $2,000 every year to maintain those files?
- Did you know the typical office spends around $20 in labor to file each document and $120 in labor searching for lost documents?
- Did you know that, on average, employees spend around 25 to 35 percent of their time looking for information essential to doing their jobs?
When you add it all up, implementing an EMR can actually save on costs, as it can help simplify office processes that position your practice to maximize revenue by tracking revenue management cycles, reducing data input errors, supporting automated tasks, and collecting data for reporting.
A long-term investment in EMR can create more manageable and scalable practices.
Myth #2 – All EMR Systems Are the Same
EMR systems are not all the same. There are 16 distinct electronic health record platforms currently in use in healthcare systems. In addition, “most hospitals have at least 10 EHRs in place and only two percent are down to just a pair of platforms,” says Tom Sullivan, editor-in-chief of Healthcare IT News.
Since interoperability is essential for patient care, PathologyWatch offers an HL7 interface for our partners to use.* We provide training for our labs and cover costs to ensure patient information is shared on a dependable and efficient EMR system.
“One challenge with information sharing in healthcare is that there are many universally accepted electronic medical record systems,” says April Larson, a practicing dermatologist and director of clinical implementation at PathologyWatch. “Therefore, while healthcare is becoming increasingly digital, many of us are still disconnected and cannot share medical information—such as clinic notes, lab results, and pathology reports—as seamlessly as we would like.”
When shopping for EMR software, be sure to select an interface that allows your clinic to transfer patient data safely among your health services networks.
Myth #3 – EMRs Interfere with Patient Engagement
Do EMR systems interfere with positive patient experiences? The answer is “possibly.” Patient engagement can be affected by caregivers’ reliance on technology and data at the exclusion of personal connectivity. The keyword here is “reliance.”
As a recent National Institutes of Health study states,
For example, nurses and other health care providers can be so focused on data from monitors that they fail to detect potentially important subtle changes in clinical status. Problems may emerge based on the sheer volume of new devices, the complexity of the devices, the poor interface between multiple technologies at the bedside, and the haphazard introduction of new devices at the bedside.
With EMR technology, it’s true that too much of a good thing can be hard to manage. For example, it may be difficult to find specific information without sorting through the entire patient file. And that could take time away from interacting with the patient during their appointment.
However, improvements are underway as EMR software designers work with medical professionals to enhance the patient/physician experience by making EMR tech more user-friendly. And that means new updates that filter patient files so doctors can access specific information rather than scrolling through every page. Considering 42 percent of dermatologists spend an average of nine to 12 minutes with each patient, quick access to information can make better use of limited time.
Other projected innovations in EMR will connect dermatologists with patients via text messaging and offer online appointment scheduling, automated medication reminders, online appointment request portals, etc. The possibilities are directly geared toward improving the patient experience and supporting your growing dermatology practice.
Electronic medical records are a fundamental part of future medical office processes. By understanding the long-term benefits of an EMR investment, selecting the EMR system that’s right for your clinic, and developing a balance between technology and positive patient engagement, the success of your dermatology practice won’t be a myth: It will be a legend.
*Over 90 percent of healthcare system vendors use a Health Level Seven (HL7) Interface, which refers to set standards for transferring data between healthcare providers.