Are You Old School?

Kristin O’Brien, OD

Vision Source of GVR, Denver, CO

“Paper charts? That’s so old school!” is what I often hear when I discuss the benefits of using electronic health records (EHR) with students at private practice club meetings across the country. It’s as if the idea of EHRs to the next generation of optometrists has become the standard of care.

As I plan an office party to celebrate the 4th anniversary of my cold start practice that implemented EHR from the beginning, I often have a hard time imagining what my office would not only look like, but how it would operate differently if we used paper charts. I am encouraged by my future colleagues ability to embrace this shift in care and happily share with you why EHR was so crucial to my 4 years of practice success.

One of the most obvious benefits an EHR can provide a cold start practice like mine, was the space saving aspect. I didn’t have to figure in precious square footage for filing cabinets. In addition, I never would have guessed how much the cost of paper, printers, and ink add up – even for a ‘paperless’ office! The reduced cost of goods over time is priceless with EHR.

An additional consideration for implementing EHR from conception is for accuracy in billing, coding, inventory, and accounts receivable. Having EHR has made operating my business based on practice metrics easy. The word ‘metrics’ is often ignored by many doctors but for a cold start practice, numbers are everything! Metrics provide you with a platform to know how you can improve, how you’re growing, and when staff are included in these metric calculations, it can provide a great team approach to bonuses based on office performance.

The number one rationale I had for implementing an EHR from day one was based on my office mission: to provide high quality eye care with the best technology available. My EHR has equipped me with more tools to better accomplish this mission than I ever thought possible. From the integration with most every piece of automated diagnostic equipment I have to instant access to a patient’s information, I can say with certainty that my EHR is crucial in providing an exceptional patient experience – start to finish.

As a newlywed and hopeful future mother, time is a precious commodity. My EHR saves me time, improves my office efficiency, and provides me the flexibility to work at the office or from home. More flexibility with a busy life and a busy practice is just icing on the cake regarding EHRs. If you’re still using paper charts I encourage you to embrace your future colleagues’ motto and stop being ‘old school’ – start with electronic health records today.

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