While the deadline for electronic record adoption is looming, some physicians remain hesitant. That’s because they view the conversion process as an expensive, time consuming, and often-overwhelming process.
The American College of Physicians wants to make it easier for doctors to make the switch to electronic medical records.
First, they offer an online tool designed to help with the decision making process. There were also several seminars that focused on electronic medical records during the recently completed 2011 annual meeting.
Experts, and those who have made the switch already, agree that before converting to electronic medical records, it is a good idea to define the goals carefully. Having just a vague idea about being more efficient or increasing revenue isn’t good enough. In fact, it could hinder the decision-making process.
Once the goals are defined, the next step is to bring the whole staff into the process. The more involved a practice’s staff members are in the decision-making process, the less likely they are to resist the overall change.
The next step in the process is to find vendors. That is often the most confusing part of the process because many practices are unsure about how to determine which vendor is the right fit. One resource that can help on that front is the Certificate Commission for Healthcare Information Technology (CCHIT). The CCHIT is an independent, nonprofit organization that uses nationally recognized standards to certify electronic health records.
If the practice currently uses a practice management system, it is important to look for a system that interfaces with the current practice management system. If the practice doesn’t have a practice management system in use, it should consider getting one before getting an electronic medical record system.
The only true way to know if a system is the right fit is to see it in action. After compiling a list of potential vendors, it is a good idea to ask the vendors for a list of other clients current using the system and if it is possible to see the system in action at those practices. The more staff members making such a visit, the better.
Remember, while no system is perfect, the more input given by staff members who will actually be using the software, the happier everyone will be. Since an electronic health records system represents such a large investment of time and money, it is usually best to go with a well-established vendor.
Once a vendor is in place, it is important to establish a timeline for conversion. It’s also important to allow plenty of time to train the staff. After that, it is simply a matter of doing a gradual, systematic implementation of the system.
Before you know it, you will have a fully functional electronic health record system.
Jennifer is a Wisconsin based writer. She has a special interest in technology. Her works have been published in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and online. Her business background has allowed her to work in various fields including; Construction, Accounting and most recently Audio Visual.