Moving from Paper to Electronic Health Records (EHR)
With April being the month that earth day comes around it started me thinking about all the paper that many offices and people still use to date.
So the question is: have you become paperless or paper-less with your new EMR/EHR?
It is very possible to get to a paper-less environment. About three years ago, we set up a Release of Information department that was paperless other than the occasional printing of a page out of the EHR for a patient.
We did this by utilizing all the available technology we had at our fingertips. It didn’t happen overnight. But it did happen. And we have saved not only money but many trees due to this.
It was really simple once we got in there and started looking at how we could turn a cost center into a profit center. We researched, and researched for an electronic solution for transmitting request for records electronically. Once we found that, we then utilized our current multi-function device for more than just a copier. We set it up to not only receive faxes and store them electronically. We were able to fax out electronically as well. We would send record request via an encrypted e-mail that would send the requestor to a secure site for the downloading of requested records. Which, we had successfully uploaded electronically straight from our EHR.
Many offices can become paper-less and have. To achieve the goal of completely being paperless is currently out of the reach of many. This is not completely due to technological constraints with the computer systems and programs that are in place.
This is due to us as people are creature of habits. As we have been trained in many business practices if it’s not written down it didn’t happen. Many of the vendors offer many ways to get away from paper and excessive printing. Outside of the medical world, there is one example from all the traveling as a Health Care Consultant in various capacities as a business analyst, to post implementation of an EMR/EHR, to writing training manuals. Typically renting a car from the same company each time After dropping the car back off at the airport, no was issued as the receipt would be emailed to me within minutes of me dropping the car off. This was great since another piece of paper did not have to be kept up with. Rather that emailed was scanned and converted into PDF to upload to send for reimbursement.
Not all technology is at the point where everything is going to be completely paperless all the time. We are heading in that direction. Currently, with meeting the standards of meaningful use many of us are being forced to go to a paper-less environment. That can be seen with the submitting of data electronically, to CMS, to state agencies. The question is what you are doing with that information to confirm it was sent. Are you taking screen shots and then printing it up. Or are you taking screen shots and putting them in an electronic file for safe keeping.
There are many ways to get the most use out of your EMR. Are you fully maximizing your EMR to its fullest capacity? Do you have all the widgets checked for the appropriate users? Is the workflow clearly developed to allow for a paper-to-digital workflow?