By Gary Salman
Carestream Dental U.S. Director, Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery
When I talk to doctors who are still using paper charts in their practices, they all have one thing in common: they resist electronic medical records (EMR) because they’re certain that the switch from paper will be painful. While the transition is not a walk in the park, the challenges that EMR addresses make it a worthwhile effort. Consider these points:
- What does a new patient think about your practice in today’s tech-saturated world when they walk in and see that you’re using paper? Do your existing patients believe you’re keeping up with technological advances?
- How much productivity is wasted when you need a record from one of your other locations? You have to choose between faxing it, express mailing it or even using a courier service to transport it—all of which can be time consuming and expensive.
- How much time goes into case documentation (taking notes, annotating them and then inserting them into the chart)? For example, if you extract four wisdom teeth, how long does it take for you to capture every detail of that procedure? Remember: quality documentation reduces liability.
- Have you considered the issues with liability that paper charts might be leaving open?
- How frequently are charge slips or “super bills” misfiled and how much lost revenue does that account for? How much effort is required to manually enter the circled charges on the bill?
- How often does someone in your office have difficulty interpreting the handwriting in a file?
- How long does it take to thumb through a chart looking for medical alerts, surgical history or current/previous medications?
- Are you confident that all OMNSNIC consent forms are signed at the proper time? How long does it take to confirm that they’re signed? Are you sure that your office always uses the most current form?
I can promise you that practices that have made the switch to EMR don’t pine for the days of paper charts. It’s definitely a transition worth making. The next question to then ponder is this: what makes one EMR system better than another?