CNT Spotlight 5 Ways EMR Can Enhance Your Practice

For many, just the word "EMR" conjures up thoughts of extra hours of work, cost, and frustration. Since legislature passed requiring all physicians to ultimately transition to this technology, many have viewed it as a burden. An EMR, however difficult to set up, can actually carry with it many benefits that will ultimately help your practice. Cited below are some of the top ways EMR may help your medical practice today.

1. Record recall

Working in an academic institution with multiple locations, oftentimes a patient arrives to a facility and their chart is at another office. With an EMR, not only are medical records accessible instantaneously, but they can be accessed from multiple locations. Many physicians find an EMR to be helpful in this regard, especially when on call. "I'll receive a call from a patient or have to see someone in the hospital, and the ability to bring up their records from any location is particularly helpful to give me a good background history. Oftentimes we rely on the patient to give us information such as what medication they’re taking. Now using an EMR I can see that the patients are often incorrect and it's really important to have instant access to their records." Of course, expansion opportunities become less daunting for a growing medical practices as well – rather than relocate, copy, or fax thousands of pages of medical records, now an MD only needs to bring a laptop computer and the office can be with them always.

2. Cost

While startup costs for EMR systems can be significant, the ability to go paper-free conserves significant resources. Besides the obvious smaller items such as paper and toner cartridges, large amounts of physical space once used for massive chart libraries can now be liberated to use for alternative uses. Alternatively, newer practices can start out in smaller spaces bringing down any rent expenses. Another benefit of EMR is possible increased revenue via improved billing; Several programs have analytic elements that review the history, exam, plan and make recommendations as to what information/exam details can be added so that the physician can bill at a higher level. Many times this can save a physician from unknowingly undercoding a patient for a visit.

3. Communication with other physicians

Several EMRs allow letters to be drafted with pertinent information such as past medical histories or examination notes. Alternatively, others provide this data so that it can be simply copied and pasted. In either case, drafting letters to colleagues becomes a quick task. Furthermore typed histories, examinations, assessments, and plans are much more legible than our traditional "doctor's notes". In addition, hospital-wide EMRs allow physicians to access consultation reports faster. A hospital-wide EMR allows a physician to quickly reference a patient's last primary care visit. This is helpful to confirm if the patients' blood pressure/sugar were controlled, but also uncover any unusual information.

4. Protection

When medical audits occur, all information is easily and readily accessible, allowing any procedures required to occur more smoothly and efficiently. Regarding patient protection, current encryption software continues to make accessing HIPAA information more difficult for unauthorized individuals.

5. Prescriptions

Many EMR systems allow prescriptions to be submitted electronically. This negates the possibility of the patient losing the prescription between your office and the pharmacy. Refill reminders can come up in advance, removing those after hour "prescription refill" calls. Additionally, the prescription can be filled more quickly, also ensuring the medication is in stock when the patient presents to pick it up.