Adopting EHR Sooner Rather Than Later

Originally published in New OD, September 2014

Written by RevolutionEHR user Steve Hass, O.D., Hass Vision Center, Owosso, Michigan.

Why associates should step forward and take the lead in their practice’s EHR implementation

Some physicians may be intimidated by transitioning to an electronic health records (EHR) system. And although few are excited by the prospect of giving up their paper records, most realize conversion is inevitable. Making the leap sooner rather than later means practices can take advantage of programs such as the meaningful use incentive. It also makes them more attractive to accountable care organizations and may help them avoid potential Medicare or insurance penalties down the road. A fully implemented EHR system also adds value to the practice, by making the practice more appealing to a potential buyer and building a perception among patients that the practice is high tech.

Taking on Technology

EHR is a great opportunity for a new doctor in the practice to take charge and demonstrate worth. Frequently, veteran members of the practice tend to be a generation removed from the associate ODs they hire. They also may be less tech savvy, and therefore overwhelmed by the task of transitioning to a modern records system.

Senior doctors have an established patient base and practice management duties, which consume their time. New associates usually can spare more time away from patient care to oversee the selection and implementation of an EHR system. This project will keep the new associate engaged in improving the practice, while still allowing him to build his own patient base.

Practice management consultants often advise new associates to increase their value by bringing something new to the practice, such as fitting specialty contact lenses or providing low vision therapy. I’d argue that the successful implementation of an EHR system may be just as valuable to a practice as an additional optometric subspecialty.

My EHR Story

I was once the new associate OD in a 90-plus-year-old multi-location practice with two veteran practitioners. The task of evaluating, selecting and implementing electronic records fell to me. I spent a good deal of time evaluating what I considered to be the top three or four systems available. I visited booths at conferences, and made use of in-office demos provided by various software vendors.

Once I chose a software package, I upgraded office computers as needed. I found that in exam rooms, it’s much more efficient to have a dual monitor set up. I now keep my EHR on one screen, leaving the second available to view fundus photos, visual fields, OCT scans, and so on.

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