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Viewpoint

FROM THE CHIEF MEDICAL EDITOR

This practice ♥ its new EHR

Last month in this space, I detailed my practice’s decision to transition from one EHR to another. For this month, I promised I would give you an initial report on how it has gone for the first eight weeks. In short, surprisingly well. Several things were different this time around.

RESEARCH. We had representative doctors and staff members involved not only in the selection of the new system, but also leading the implementation. It was helpful for our other docs and staff to hear from these ophthalmologists, optometrists, techs, writers and surgery coordinators that the new system was much better than the one we had. In the end, we all agreed the transition was worth doing. Having one’s peers endorse the decision made for a psychologically improved frame of collective mind during the transition.

HOMEWORK. I, for one, didn’t get nearly enough education and practice before the first system was implemented and I mostly blame myself. Doctors and staff who prepared were obviously more adept. Everyone learned from that first experience and we all realized we needed to get serious about preparation.

EXPERIENCE. Regardless of which system you have, or which system you’re changing to, it’s much easier to go from one EHR to another EHR, versus going from paper to EHR. You’ve already been there, done that. Even if the new system is totally different, which ours is, the intimidation factor of all information being on a computer is gone. Plus, your records are already digitized, so for a hefty fee you can pay a company to move your old data to the new system. Warning: It may not transfer over perfectly, but it’s still way easier than loading all that data from scratch.

So here we are, two months in. What was the staff’s reaction? I walked around the office last week on my day off (I like impressing my editor) and asked each one for an honest assessment of the new system. Here are their summarized responses.

“The flow is so much better, faster. ... Recording refractions is easier. ... The organization is improved. ... Coding is much easier. It’s faster to access info you need. ... Editing is simpler. ... There are way fewer steps, fewer mouse clicks. ... There is less redundancy, less need to input the same data more than once. Overall just simpler to use.”

Better yet — these comments were similar to those from the first week, which I found even more gratifying. They were the same from both doctors and techs. On day three an OD told me, “I really like this system!” A tech said, “I think we are going to be able to see more patients a day this way.”

EHR is here to stay. If you aren’t on it now, I’m comfortable saying you soon will be forced on to it if you take any third-party reimbursement. But I’m also happily saying that finally it can really work for you.

More importantly, I am saying to all EHR users, if you aren’t happy, switch. You’ve already done the hard work. OM