Time Travel in the Waiting Room

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I’ve always wanted to be a time traveler. For a moment last week, I thought my wish had come true.

I was visiting a local doctor, a specialist whom I hadn’t seen in a while. As I stepped into his waiting room, I had a funny sensation. Soft rock was playing on a hidden radio. A framed Norman Rockwell print of “The Doctor’s Office” hung on the wall. Dog eared copies of National Geographic drooped from a magazine stand in the corner. I felt like I was back in the 1970s!

The female receptionist handed me a clipboard filled with forms to be filled out. “But I filled these forms out the last time I was here,” I protested. “We joined a new plan, so you have to fill them out again,” she told me cheerily.

So I sat on a non-descript couch in the corner and filled out several forms, dutifully scribbling in my date of birth, address, employer’s name and address, insurance ID number, group number, medical history and allergies to medications.

When I had finally finished, I returned the clipboard, sat back on the couch and listened to James Taylor sing “Fire and Rain.” I started to daydream when I heard the receptionist say, “You forgot to fill out the HIPAA form.” That snapped me back to reality, and suddenly I was in 2013 again.

Do your patients feel like they’re stepping back into the past when they visit your office? If so, it’s time make some changes. Start by reading our cover story, “The Intelligent Office.” You’ll learn how to implement the latest technologies for managing information at all levels of your practice. Then toss out those clipboards and replace them with tablet computers. Begin using EMRs to track your patients’ medical history, insurance data and other vital information, and then move all that data to the cloud.

The past can be fun to visit, but there’s no time like the present. ■

akarp@jobson.com