RPI Resource Providers Inc - Secure Web-Based Digital Transcriptions Solutions


Monday, September 25, 2017
 

   

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VISION — Transitioning to EMR
Preparing for Meaningful Use

Q: We are looking to transition to electronic medical records (EMR), but are worried about the cost and the disruption to operations. What options can we consider?

A: Transitioning to an EMR requires a well thought out, long-term plan. It should be done one step at a time so your providers and staff can adapt as you move forward. There’s no need to rush.

One first step can come at no additional operational or capital cost. You can choose a digital online transcription company that maintains a permanent searchable database of your transcribed records. This will give you a good feel for the benefits of EMR without disruption to your doctors’ daily routine. They can continue to dictate via handheld recorders, a toll-free call-in dictation service, or a direct pick-up voice collection system like Lanier or Dictaphone. And you can have the reports electronically at your fingertips the next day.

How can digital online transcription serve as a mini-EMR? Here’s an example: A patient calls to inquire about a previous visit. Instead of taking a phone number, looking for the chart and having to call the patient back, you can go to your page on the transcription company’s Website, type in the patient’s name or medical record number, and up come the transcripts of all the patient’s visits. The call is handled on the spot and everyone is happy. No chart to find and replace, no searching for misplaced notes, and a satisfied patient — with 15 minutes of a very busy day saved on this one transaction.

Another example: The doctor gets an after-hours call and needs the details of the patient’s visits. He can go to the Website from his home or hospital computer and have the information in seconds.

As the health information technology industry evolves, the medical transcription company that you choose should be one that is fully capable of interfacing with any EMR system that you may select in the future, via the industry standard Health Level 7 (HL7) protocols. Some suppliers of EMR systems sell modular “bolt-on” packages allowing a one-step-at-a-time approach, versus the costly and sometimes disruptive all-or-nothing “transition.”

Practices that are plunging head-first into full-blown EMR systems are often being told that they can justify the mega-dollar investment by eliminating transcription altogether.

However, we have found it usually doesn’t happen that way. Building templates covering all situations to the satisfaction of everyone in the practice, as well as interacting with the computer, is very time consuming for the doctors. The time lost from patient care is costly and the stress on the doctors contributes towards loss of staff morale. As a result, the return on investment is lost and the level of patient care is not impacted for the better.

A word of caution: With any EMR, you will likely need to interface with many medical facilities and business partners as the national network grows. Many EMR providers charge up to $50,000 for each two-way interface. Negotiate these costs before signing a contract!

Jumping too quickly into expensive EMRs can cause serious financial consequences due to reduced patient counts and the loss of frustrated doctors. The one-step-at-a-time approach seems the most prudent. Again, what’s the hurry?


W. Allen Clifford is president and CEO of Resource Providers, Inc., a Web-based transcription company that also creates EMR packages; 813-282-8889 (toll-free 866-660-4774); allenclifford@rpiusa.com.


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