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EMR Electronic Medical Records Overview and Introduction
So, you’ve been considering an Electronic Medical Record (EMR) / Electronic Health Record (EHR). Since we’re well into the computing age, and computers have been integrated into every facet of our daily lives, why not in clinical practice? Chances are you’ve already used computers and the internet for the viewing of clinical information (labs, radiology), as well as reference (MDConsult, Uptodate). Who goes to the library anymore? So, why has it taken so long for physicians to adopt the wide use of EMRs? Estimates place EMR use anywhere from 5-15% of overall physicians. The number is slowly increasing, and at first glance it seems only natural that physicians should be charting on computers, but there is a lot of research that must be done to go into the decision of choosing and implementing an EMR successfully.
The goal of using an EMR should include, improving patient visits, improving charting, decrease charting time, decreasing mundane tasks (prescription refills, phone calls, filling out forms), while improving patient care and safety. Improving office and physician productivity as well as the convenience of being able to see your schedule up to date at anytime, not having to dig around for lost charts is also a plus! Another driving force is the ability to capture a complete medical record that is not only legible, but also allows physicians to improve their coding and medical billing.
If the physician can increase the number of patient visits by a few per day, while decreasing paperwork, and increasing the average amount collected per visit (by efficiently using proper coding for higher level visits), and EHR can be a solid long term investment as well! Many EMR companies tout ROI or return on investment when they market their software. Beware that most companies use an algorithm that includes a heavy amount of dictation services (expensive) so if you don’t use dictation much, you’re not going to see as large a savings as advertised.
Selecting the “right” EMR for your practice of medicine can be a very daunting task, as the field of “players” on the market continues to grow.
Pros for using EMR: improved efficiency overall, increase number of patient visits, improve communication between patients and providers, decrease costs of paper charts, improve chart readability, increased revenue thru better ability to document and code, reduce errors