In the last ten years there are 3 known letters, said in a particular order, that will cause even the strongest physician to become nauseous and weak in the knees – E. H. R.
Of course I’m speaking of Electronic Health Records. EHR (or as my auto spell check to this date still corrects to “HER”) is an abbreviation that, in theory, should be a cause for celebration. Imagine a system that successfully and efficiently gathers all of your health data, including allergies, medications, and past diagnoses, and is able to seamlessly communicate this data with all of your other health care providers. Keep imagining…at least for now.
EHR has become essential in this area because it has now been incorporated into almost every medical office in the Dayton, Cincinnati, and northern Kentucky region. The reason being is that this area represents a unique blend of providers and health care coverage that is considered an “average” cross section of the United States by Medicare. In 2010, this region was chosen to participate in the Comprehensive Primary Care Initiative, a Medicare-sponsored program designed to study the impact of physicians practicing more efficiently while incorporating a variety of different systems in how health care is delivered, one of which is EHR (https://innovation.cms.gov/initiatives/comprehensive-primary-care-initiative/).
Since opening Focal Pointe in 2008, I always envisioned my practice utilizing EHR – paper records never made much sense to me. Like any new technology, there are always bumps in the road. Doctors are required to adjust to the EHR more than the EHR can adjust to how doctors practice. And what most health care providers have quickly realized with EHR, including myself, is that charting on the computer is almost always slower than a handwritten note, and we are now forced to click through a series of menus instead of focusing on the task at hand, which should be patient care. To overcome this, I do what many offices have done – I utilize a technician in the exam room so my eyes are focused on you, and not a monitor.
In 2012, I decided to make my first change in EHR software because I was frustrated that my original software was not staying up to date with some of the latest technologies in the industry. I interviewed dozens of companies and narrowed it down to two. Again, the one I chose out of the two was providing great technology for the time. However, I saw a consistent drop off in innovations in 2015; so in May 2016, I brought on our third software company in 8 years. Ironically, this EHR company is the exact same one that I determined to be the “runner-up” 4 years ago (bummer).
Remembering my moto, “Embrace Change,” I always look at these challenges through my “positive goggles.” The challenge of launching new EHR is quite possibly the toughest for any office, though. The shift of EHR software impacts every aspect of the office, from the time you call to schedule an appointment, to the time you leave with your new glasses or contact lenses. So those of you that have visited my office in the last month, I say thank you for your patience and understanding as we embrace this change in order to provide better service to you. EHR will continue to evolve and bring us closer to that seamless health care. And all of us at Focal Pointe will continue to smile and work hard, and each day will get better as we get better. That I promise you.