Local professionals talk Electronic Medical Records

In your opinion, what are some of your most recent challenges related to EMRs and how is your office overcoming it?

“Implementing an EMR (electronic medical record) system has been challenging to say the least.  From decision-making to actual implementation, we have been faced with challenges we never anticipated.  When choosing our EMR software, since we have five different specialties in our office (Primary care, urgent care, pediatric, chiropractic, and physical therapy), we looked for a program that could be customized and used by all.  When you do that, you basically start with an empty template you have to build yourself.  What is critical in one specialty, may not be in another.”

“Using paper charts was much faster for providers, so when we started using the EMR, we actually had to cut the number of patients per day.  Doing charts “real time” took much longer for providers because they were trying to navigate new software and conduct an office visit at the same time.  With that being said, patients do not like when a provider stares at a computer screen the whole time they are in the room.  They want to feel the provider is paying attention to them and not the computer screen.  In our practice, we are now training all nurses and medical assistants to “scribe” for the providers.  They go into the room with the provider during the patient visit and transcribe into the EMR note so the provider can give his undivided, face-to-face attention to the patient. It’s a process, and we are learning as we go.”

Diane Brannen
Clinic Administrator Owl Now Urgent Care ~ Trinity Medical Group ~ Lakeland Spine Center
Parker Medical Plaza, Lakeland

“EMR today is like the Computed Tomography (CT) scan of 1980— a primitive but revolutionary technology that will improve inexorably in the next few years. Radiologists have been using image-based EMR for a decade longer than our physician colleagues and there’s not a radiologist alive that would go back to reading films. Soon, physicians will never go back to paper records.”

“EMRs slow physician workflow so some, especially ERs (emergency rooms), are hiring scribes— college kids that walk into the exam room with you and the patient and enter encounter data into the EMR while the physician interacts with the patient.”

“Hiring a scribe at $10 an hour makes a whole lot of sense for many practices. Scribes can be physically in the office or remotely accessed through technology. Companies are being built around remote scribes. We are preparing to hire scribes now, at least until EMR ease of use improves.”

Dr. Chris Pittman
Chair, Florida Medical Association Advisory Group on Health Information Technology
President-Elect, Florida Medical Association Political Action Committee
President, Hillsborough County Medical Association
Medical Director, VEIN911, Tampa

“Our practice was an early adopter of EHR (electronic health record) technology and we have been using several versions of EHR since 1991.  During that time we have developed a very efficient product tailored to our subspecialty practice.  The government mandates primarily targeted towards primary care practices are resulting in a less efficient EHR.  The amount of time and effort our technicians are expending in entering data that is irrelevant to our patient care is increasing without any significant change in the quality of patient care.”

Dr. David M. Misch
Center for Retina and Macular Disease, Winter Haven, FL

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