On Monday, we scanned and shredded the very last paper file in my practice. My secretary made one last DVD back-up, and that's it. We filled 20 gigabytes of hard drive; I now see external hard drives with 500 gigs, so storage is not an issue for any practice. Next week, I am taking my staff out to celebrate.
I found a buyer for all my filing cabinets, and they are gone as of next Monday.
It is interesting for me to look back at this diary; a year ago at this time, we were just about to switch over to the new system for billing and scheduling.
My husband went to see a specialist a few days ago. He came home and told me that there was a wall of paper files behind the secretary; the specialist wrote everything by hand, and also gave him a prescription scribbled on a little piece of paper. When he went back to the front to make an appointment, the secretary was on the phone with a patient, and was flipping back and forth in a paper book to try to find where the appointment was (which took a while).
While this is the current "normal" in health care, and is not too far removed from my practice of only a year ago, it does not have to be thus. We now have the tools to do better.
I had a couple of computer experts from a company called DM Link in the office today. This is something new that SSHA (the Ontario Government agency charged with connecting the health care system) has set up. I think one of the issues in small practices is that we are not IT experts, and can't configure or maintain these systems by ourselves. The EMR companies are mainly concerned with software, not hardware. The computer guys went around and made sure that all my computers had anti-virus working properly and that Windows updates were up to date (they said that this was a problem in a lot of offices). They also did an inventory and put labels on my routers so that I would know what things are. They wrote down my system configuration, and will send me a hard copy so I know what I have and how it works. They had a look at my routers, and made sure that the UPS device was properly set up so that power would not be interrupted in the event of an outage. I had a couple of questions, and they answered those as well; they even set up my printers to work faster.
This type of housecall is very helpful. Having some professional help and review from people who know what they are doing, and have a checklist to make sure everything works will likely save a lot of grief down the road. The whole thing took about two hours. SSHA has come in for a lot of (deserved) criticism in the recent past; however, this undertaking looks like the right approach.