In 2017, there aren’t many practices left who haven’t switched over to EHRs. EHRs have become necessary to handle the increasing volume of patients and documentation. Even without the need for compliance, dentists know that continuing to use paper will be detrimental to their practice. Thanks to federal programs incentivizing the upgrade and the evolution of the software EHR market, paper is slowly disappearing from the modern medical practice.
However, the transition hasn’t always been easy for everyone involved. Even now some clinics continue to struggle with sub par applications, poor customer service and tech support from vendors. Early EHR software also focussed on certain processes while relegating others to the backburner. This means that some areas continue to be neglected even as innovation improves other functions.
The Importance of Odontograms
Charting and X-rays play an important role in the daily workflows of any dental clinic. In spite of that, charting doesn’t quite get the attention it deserves from EHR providers. Many practices continue to use paper for their charting needs simply because the software they use is inadequate for that purpose. Sure, it may help you with scheduling or payment processing but charting still needs paper.
Not all EHRs ignore this crucial function though. Some EHRs have powerful charting functionality with an easy to use interface to boot. Using such an app lets you maintain a digital workflow throughout the patient visit. You should not have to constantly switch between paper files and electronic records during the day. No more juggling multiple sets of paperwork or trying to reconcile missing or wrong data from one set to another.
Odontogram Features to Look for in an EHR
So what should you look for in an EHR before signing on the dotted line? The first step is to match your requirements with the feature list that the vendor offers. The charting functions should be a high priority in any such list. Here’s what you need to look for in the odontogram section of the EHR:
A typical patient chart includes many images, X-ray files and other records. The charting functionality can often be slow because of this, even if other parts of the EHR are fast. Make a note of how quickly the software opens the odontogram. Test the software under typical network and working conditions. The same feature that works blazingly fast in a test environment or a demo can take agonizing minutes in your office. Loading a chart with all its labels, notes and annotations should be quick. You need to be able to make notes and move on to the next step.
Powerful Tools and Interface
The EHR should have powerful tools that help with your tasks without getting in the way. A simple and intuitive user interface also goes a long way here. You will be spending a lot of time with patient charts, shouldn’t it be easy to work with? You don’t to spend the precious time during a patient visit struggling to open a chart or filling in the necessary data.
Some EHRs limit the size of files you can import or only show low resolution images to save time or bandwidth. Check that your application doesn’t have these limitations. High resolution imagery and good quality textures can make the difference when charting tooth surfaces. Accurate information will also help if you are referring the patient to another specialist. Missing or incorrect information can lead to misdiagnosis or other serious issues later on.
Even if the EHR has excellent features in other areas, bad or slow odontograms can create a very negative experience for users. So make sure the EHR has everything you want before diving in!