Every practicing physician has developed a comfortable method of documenting patient care. In a paper-based office, this usually means dictating notes which are later transcribed and reviewed before signing, or by handwriting notes on paper (either personally by the physician or by a medical assistant in the exam room). These notes are then filed in a standard patient chart along with other medical information, and manually retrieved by office staff when needed. While it may not always be the most efficient method, a mode of practice is established that is comfortable and time-honored for the physician. In multi-physician practices, where some doctors are more comfortable with technology than others, and EMR solution that demands complete and absolute electronic conversion is disruptive and profoundly obtrusive to physicians who are comfortable and satisfied with the status quo.
Many EMR systems require a physician to dramatically alter the flow of information within his or her practice by requiring data entry into software programs; this is an entirely new interface to which the doctor is unaccustomed, and which is often far less efficient than the previous method of documentation. Not surprisingly, most doctors object to such a dramatic change in how they practice. Document imaging allows physicians the flexibility to use whatever method of patient care documentation they prefer. Dictation, hand-written chart notes. Paper templates, interactive electronic PDF forms, electronic text-based templates and other forms of computer data entry are all seamlessly integrated into the electronic patient chart. Document imaging creates a simple-to-use, comprehensive electronic medical record that includes all manual and electronic documentation.
A major disadvantage of other EMR systems is the initial disruption to a practice during the training and implementation phase. Complicated interfaces and data-entry programs require hours, days or even weeks of staff training prior to implementation and "phase-in period" of dramatically reduced patient volume, equating to substantial loss of revenue. It often takes a year or longer before a practice can merely return to its former level of efficiency and patient volume. In a market where efficiency equals revenue; downtime and disruption are unacceptable and are often the prohibitive factors to implementation of an EMR system.
Document imaging eliminates this disruption and downtime. With our document imaging system the training process is completed in less than one hour, even for users with no computer skills. Because providers and support staff can continue with their normal workflow patterns, no "phase-in period" is required and no revenue is lost.
The bottom line is that an electronic medical record system should not force a physician to change the way he or she wants to practice medicine. It should, however, allow him or her to practice more efficiently. Some physicians will always be more comfortable with paper, and until every lab, office, hospital, government agency and pharmacy is paperless, it will still play a critical role in the practice of medicine. Our document imaging system seamlessly incorporates paper into the electronic medical record, it is flexible enough to meet the varying needs of everyone within a medical practice, and it does not force a catastrophic change in the modus operandi of an entire office. Too often physicians compromise their mode of practice with database EMR systems on the market today. Document imaging is an alternative to an EMR system that puts the control back into physician's hands.