Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Back to reality

I am back from vacation, and my office is getting very busy after the summer hiatus.

During my absence, my (non-EMR) partner looked after my patients. He had some problems, as he could not see CPPs or previous encounters on the EMR, so my staff had to print a lot of things for him. I looked at the Permissions in my System Set up module, and realized that I could have given him access to read-only forms of my CPPs and encounters. I'll know better for next time.

My resident saw several of my patients, and entered the data for me to sign off later (which I did remotely).

I had been away for two weeks; I told my staff that I would have no access to the Internet for the first week, but that I would access the EMR the second week. My partner still looked after urgent lab result, and saw patients that needed to come in. However, I could deal with most incoming lab/reports remotely, and sent several messages to my staff. It was about 3 hours of work over the week.

When I came back this morning, after a two week absence, I had about 45 minutes of work (mainly forms to fill out). There were no stacks of charts and papers to review.

There are pros and cons of doing things this way during vacation. You have to be willing to give up some of your vacation time. You cannot deal with more urgent things remotely, unless you commit to logging on daily, which is not always possible or even desirable during vacation. On the other hand, there is much less chaos and pressure when you come back, as most things have been taken care of and filed away.

We received two record transfer requests while I was away. We printed the chart from the EMR, using the "print whole chart" feature; the CPP and encounters were printed very quickly, but it did not print the scanned documents (these are not OCR'd and pasted in the record, so you have to load them to see them). It looks like you still have to load scanned material to print individually, so printing a whole chart is not as quick as I expected. However, the old paper chart is now a pdf document, and that simply gets transferred to a CD ROM to mail out--size of chart no longer matters.

I do the bookkeeping for my practice (on Quicken). I have now registered for on-line business banking, and did my first electronic reconciliation today (much faster and easier). I plan to switch to on-line payments as much as possible. I think having an EMR has made me think of what other paperwork I can reduce.


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