Why Wait to Go Digital?
Here’s how to stay ahead of the curve.
As you move toward transforming your medical or dental practice from paper to electronic health records (EHR), chances are you can think of plenty of reasons not to do so:
- Paper records are how you’ve always done it — why rock the boat?
- You can barely keep up with your patient load, let alone devote time to fundamental process changes.
- Your staff may resist.
- Who needs the expense?
Compelling objections? Maybe. But holdouts raised similar objections to the typewriter, telephone, personal computer and virtually every major development in history. With the medical/dental world moving inexorably to EHR, converting your practice may be about when, not if. Get ahead of the trend to stay competitive and potentially reap results that are helpful to you — and your patients.
There are undeniable hardware and software costs associated with switching to digital, not to mention the time costs of learning new systems. However, adhering to traditional practices also comes with expenses that add up over time — from printers and ink to paper forms and mailing costs.
When it comes to counting costs related to time spent learning the technology, remember that, once you and your staff get up to speed on the new processes, you may find yourselves among the 79% of providers who, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, say their practices are more efficient thanks to EHR. Additionally, 75% of providers say they receive lab results faster, and 82% say sending prescriptions electronically is more efficient.
Meanwhile, the government is adding its own cost incentives to switch: By 2018, Medicare will reduce physician reimbursements by 4% for records not submitted electronically, up from 1% in 2015.
The most compelling reason for adopting EHR may be the opportunity to provide better service and care for your patients. Electronic records can:
- Improve accuracy
- Enable you to provide the best care, whether for routine visits or emergency situations
- Help clinicians seamlessly share information, such as alerts about patient allergies and other data vital to prescription accuracy
Patients are also likely to appreciate having the ability to schedule appointments electronically. In addition, patients are becoming more proactive in their own care by establishing electronic personal health records (PHR). Your ability to provide information digitally can help them maintain the PHR and keep them up to date.
The advantages of EFR may outweigh the comfort of older methods. Making the leap could position your practice for the future.
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