EHRs and the ongoing digital conversion of healthcare records have been in the spotlight for a variety of reasons. One recurring topic revolves around the efficiency and productivity improvements that vendors claim for EHRs. Some clinics have benefited from switching to EHRs. Others have seen productivity drop as users struggle with digital records. Every clinic and its users are different and how quickly someone can adapt depends on a lot of factors. One aspect stands out – well designed software help clinics improve efficiency.
Indiana University School of Dentistry Student Outreach Clinic
While most dental practices are run as businesses, there are quite a few clinics which offer free services to those who cannot afford them. One such example is the Indiana University Outreach clinic that was founded by students of the Indiana University School of Dentistry in 2011. The staff consists of 20 dental students – 10 providers in their 3rd or 4th years and the remaining from 1st and 2nd years. The clinic is overseen by 2 attending dentists as well.
The Indiana University Outreach clinic also has an additional 18 dental student volunteers for logistical support. Logistics includes scheduling, charting and other aspects of running a dental clinic. Providing care is the main focus of the clinic but managing the non-care aspects can take up quite a bit of time as well. The clinic uses paper for their charting needs and Excel for scheduling.
Notes are first written as a rough draft. They are then checked for errors before transferring to the official chart where it goes through an error check once again. After approval, faculty signs off on each record and the patient can leave. The entire process can take up to an hour for each patient. Considering that they see anywhere from 18-22 patients per day, this accumulates to a lot of wasted time.
How Dovetail is Improving Efficiency
The students at the Outreach clinics recently tried out Dovetail for their charting and scheduling needs. Dovetail is a cloud based EHR system that users can access from any mobile device or computer with a data connection. It offers many benefits over paper for dental practices. The students at the clinic used Dovetail solely for charting and scheduling as this takes up the major share of their time.
Did it make a difference? It sure did! The students found that using Dovetail for charting reduced the total time by around 20-25 minutes. So instead of taking up to an hour or so for each patient, it only takes them 30-40 minutes. That’s an amazing improvement, especially when you consider that they’ve only used it for a trial session. The students expect to reduce charting time even more as they become familiar with the software.
The Indiana University clinic volunteers were also excited to use commercially available software. Normally they would use software designed for school use. Such applications tend to be clunky and they’re not often updated either. The trial session gave them the opportunity to use a system they might encounter once they graduate, providing valuable real world experience.
Dovetail offers flexibility so different practices can adapt it to their unique needs. In this case, the students needed only the charting and scheduling aspects of Dovetail. Users can quickly get their work done instead of wasting time clicking through multiple windows.
Dovetail was designed by a dentist for dental practices and the results speak for themselves. The efficiency improvements that the Indiana University Outreach clinic witnessed is yet another success story for our customers!