Adopting an EDR system is no longer optional for many practices. Electronic health record keeping systems are becoming mandatory – you need one if you hope to comply with regulations, keep up with demands from third party payers or even improve patient outcomes. If you are not already using an EDR, your clinic is probably in the process of deploying one.
There has been endless debate on whether EDRs are helpful to healthcare professionals. While the overall experience has been a mixed bag for practices, few can deny that health IT has not been useful at all. One of the more obvious benefits of EDRs is speeding up certain processes within a dental clinic. There is a learning curve as your staff familiarizes themselves with the new system but efficiency improvements show up soon after.
Templates, Triggers and Shortcuts
Let’s face it. Not many doctors are proficient with data entry and neither should they have to be. That’s why most good EDR software will come with built in tools to make entering data easy. The most common method is to use templates. Templates – especially customizable ones – let you add data in a structured manner and ensure that users don’t forget crucial details. You can create templates for the most common diagnoses in your practice and speed up data entry.
Triggers are a customizable variation of autocomplete. You can set up triggers for commonly used phrases and save valuable typing time. For instance, suppose you close patient cases with a standard phrase. You can set a trigger to fill out the sentence when you press a certain key combination. Shortcuts are generally built into the software and you can use them to access certain windows or forms quicker. All of these together can save you hundreds of hours per week across all your team members!
Not all EDRs come with integrated patient portals but you can always connect third party applications for your own use. Patient portals can free up quite a lot of time for you, your staff and your patients. These portals come equipped with many features like appointment reminders, automatic prescription refills, the ability to see and download lab reports, test results etc. Now your patients can look up the information they need without tying up your phone lines. By extension, your front desk staff don’t have to deal with simple requests and can focus on patients who are actually in the clinic instead.
Your EDR can integrate with many other software services and bring data from multiple sources into a single window. The patient portal can automatically send appointment reminders based on the patient’s EDR data. The practice management software can generate monthly revenue reports by using patient visit information. X-rays or other images become accessible from within the EDR itself. You don’t have to keep moving files around or manually import lab test results. You can see everything you need on one screen or window.
As an added bonus, quite a few EDR applications are cloud based services. It means that not only can you access many types of data on one screen but that screen can be on any device. You can look up information on a smartphone or tablet while riding the train. Need to look up a case file when you’re out of town? No problem, you can access the EDR from any Internet connected device like your personal laptop!
Using an EDR can save you a lot of time, freeing you up to see more patients that you could otherwise. Most practices will see a drop in efficiency as you learn the new system but pretty soon, you’ll be wondering how you managed without it!