Must-Have Technology for Your Practice
By Mark Sanna, DC, ACRB Level II, FICC
Technology affects almost every aspect of our lives. Just look around you and you'll see how wired we have become. But as much as our personal lives have changed, the business world has revolutionized almost beyond recognition in the past few decades. Advances in communication and information technology have changed the face and pace of what it takes to be successful in practice today.
Practice Management Software
In today's fast-paced and complicated health care world, successful chiropractic practices count on their practice management software to help them provide excellent service to their patients while remaining profitable. Your practice team must be ready to take on new technology, evolving laws and regulations, and to work together to provide the best patient care possible. None of this is easy, of course. And that's why it's vital to implement a software solution that was developed with the best interests of your practice in mind.
Select a system that will ensure that your entire practice's workflow is streamlined with full integration of patient and provider scheduling, clinical charting and billing. Make sure that the system has an easy-to-use interface that allows users to schedule patient appointments, send messages, set reminders and assign tasks to others. Look for a system where individual users can work from a personalized home page containing their most frequently used tasks and functions. Each user should be able to have a unique login and password.
The security of your data is vital. Your information, data, and customized settings should be on secured private servers with full data redundancy and backup, whether they are in your office, monitored by a third party, on reside on the "cloud." Be sure that you choose a software vendor that will provide personalized training. A consultant who is an expert in your field should be readily available to guide you through every step of set-up and implementation. And if you need help, training, or support several years from now, they should be there for you then as well.
Electronic Medical Record Integration
The integration of electronic medical records into your practice can have tremendous benefits. Electronic charting can improve overall patient care, ensure more accurate billing, reduce handwriting errors, and decrease your overall costs. It also increases your visibility to your patients as being a leader in technology. If you are currently using paper medical records, there are many reasons to consider switching to an Electronic Medical Record or EMR system. However, many chiropractors are unaware of what an electronic medical record system is.
An EMR system can create, store and provide access to crucial patient information. This typically consists of all the information related to your patients' visits. It keeps track of all patient appointments. Additionally, it includes data related to current and past medical history, laboratory results, medicines prescribed and doctor's notes.
Paper medical records can require a large amount of space for storage. Switching to an EMR system can free up significance floor space. Unlike traditional paper records, electronic medical records are easily accessible. It takes only a few seconds to access the records of a patient and thereby, save a lot of time. An EMR system also increases the coordination between your entire staff. Using an electronic medical record, multiple users can access the same information at the same time. For instance, you as well as your billing department can access the reports of the same patient at the same time. Paper medical reports are always at a risk of being misplaced. On the contrary, EMRs are always safe and sound in your system.
Computer Hardware and Peripherals
EMR adoption may require a significant change in technology for many chiropractic practices. Your current systems may need to be upgraded or replaced and you may require additional computers, printers, and scanners to meet the requirements of your chosen EMR. Your computer equipment and network must work in concert with your EMR system.
Many practices have already come to terms with the basics of shopping for hardware and can determine which options are best for them based on cost and processing power. However, physicians and their office managers can still get caught off guard when they face unexpected scenarios. This can include having to choose among multiple text and data input options. Patients must be provided with an easy means to enter data directly into your practice's electronic system. You and your practice team members must also have the ability to interact with patients while simultaneously accessing and entering information with computers.