The decision to use an EMR when you’re close to retirement can be problematic for a physician. There is little doubt that the leap from paper to EMR is a quantum one. It may take many months to implement an EMR when you consider the training and integration involved, along with the time required to learn to use the system efficiently. When deciding which path to take, the most important questions a physician must ask him/herself are:
- How long will I remain in practice? And…
- Am I willing to invest in my practice in
hopes that another physician will take it over.
If you plan to remain in practice for 10 or more years, you’re probably going to have little choice but to move to an EMR. The good news is that you should see dramatic changes in the efficiencies once you get the hang of it which ultimately is positive all around. What’s more, you’re continuing to fund your retirement in the interim.
On the other hand, if retirement is around the corner (say, less than 3 years away), you may or may not want to make the leap. While funding may be available for the transition, there is a learning curve that may create more stress than necessary for a soon-to-be retiring doctor.
There may be a happy medium though.
One alternative approach often overlooked is the Document Management System (DMS). A Document Management System not only rids the medical practice of all new paper, it also affords the physician additional achievements in efficiency without a huge investment in infrastructure.
In its simplest form, a Document Management System is a software application which tracks, stores nd allows for immediate retrieval of electronic documents or images. It is not specific to medical offices, but lends itself beautifully to one.
In the case of a medical practice, the DMS will store each patient record digitally and allow for instantaneous retrieval of that record through its search capabilities.
Once retrieved, the record is similar to the paper record in that you can flip through the record one page at a time by using the arrow button or “next page” button, just as you would use your finger to flip through a paper record. Any paper coming into the office, be it through fax, mail or even handwritten notes, can be scanned in to the DMS at the end of the day, with each new page appended to the top of the existing digital record for that patient. Plain and simple.
Document Management Systems vary greatly and usually offer additional functionality such as: annotation tools (highlight, circle, redact, etc.), ability to zoom in and out; rotate an image, print, share, etc. When set up for it, the DMS can be accessed via any secure internet connection (ie. the home, or hospital). It can be fully secured, and there’s an audit log showing the date and time and username for each activity that takes place within the record. Compared to an EMR, the DMS eliminates all paper going
forward. It prepares everyone for a paperless office environment. A physician
opting for a DMS can also ensure that new paper documents received are appended
into the existing files using RSRS’ Day Forward Scanning service.
For a solid DMS with a great track record in the medical sector, RSRS recommends Digitech’s PaperVision Enterprise, which can accommodate small to very robust
requirements, without significant capital expenditure. In subsequent blog posts,
we’ll publish case studies where PaperVision was implemented in a single
physician practice, a large clinic, and a hospital.