Some people assume that EDRs are nothing more than computerized versions of paper records. Nothing could be further from the truth. Even at first glance, it becomes apparent that EDRs offer a multitude of benefits – you can access them from anywhere, anytime. You can replace all the filing cabinets in your clinic with a few computers and even tablets. You can send and receive patient data much quicker than before.
If you dig a little deeper, you can see that EDRs become more useful when they integrate with other dental software. The EDR should be the single point of record for every patient, detailing all relevant dental information. Everything from periodontal charts to exam results will go into the EDR. Most reputable EDRs also generate reports that help with the business side of dental practice management.
EDRs and Integrated Imaging Solutions
Early EDR implementations were much more bare-bones than the fully fledged software services we see today. Connecting two different dental programs was not easy and often required software bridges or extensive software development. Nowadays it’s much more common for EDRs and digital imaging solutions to come packaged together.
This offers many advantages. The first being that the same developer is responsible for both applications. It means that you have a single point of contact for troubleshooting and solving problems. When imaging solutions and EDRs use the same platform, it reduces the potential for compatibility issues as well. Integrated imaging solutions will share the same graphical interface and design sensibilities of the overall EDR software service. This reduces the learning curve for your clinical staff.
Native imaging can save your practice time and money also. Each patient chart becomes a visual record that is accessible from a central location. You don’t have to open multiple programs and keep switching between them to see different types of information on the same patient. You can even compare two charts side-by-side for easier diagnosis or when it is time to make a decision on treatment plans.
Import Images Directly
Quite a few EDRs integrate directly with the sensors and imaging equipment that you already use. It means that images can be sent directly to the patient chart without requiring third-party software or manual processes. Reducing the time needed to transfer images into the EDR can easily save you many hours over the week. Many dentists work late or on the weekends to catch up on pending documentation. So even a few minutes that you save on daily workflows is more time that you can spend on your patients.
Upload Images from the EDR
Every EDR cannot integrate with all the different types of sensors and equipment in the industry. However, most of them will offer alternate methods of importing dental images. In many cases, all you need is to pick a button embedded in the EDR to start uploading images. Those images may be stored on a CD or a folder on your computer. While this method does take more time than the previous one, it is still better than trying to juggle information from multiple sources in different applications.
A central repository for both textual and visual patient data is beneficial for more than just ease of access. It makes it easier when you want to submit insurance claims with all the relevant documents included at once. You can easily send EDR files with the complete dental history when referring patients to specialists or other doctors. In all these situations, including the images with the rest of the patient information can cut down on the time needed for diagnosis and treatment. If your EDR does not have integrated imaging, it might be time to switch to one that does.