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  October 29, 2012
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The Pros and Cons of Implementing EMR

By dba Staff

The financial incentives provided by the HITECH Act encouraged many eyecare professionals to implement the use of electronic medical records (EMR) in their practices.

To understand both the pros and cons of doing so, the following ECPs told dba what challenges and benefits they've experienced since they started using EMR: Mark D. Wade, OD, of Crown Vision Center; David H. Hettler, OD, of Drs. May & Hettler; Alan Ulsifer, OD, of FYidoctors; and Shannon Olsson, of Clarkson Eyecare.


Mark D. Wade, OD, Director of Professional Relations, Crown Vision Center, St. Louis, Mo.

When did you start using EMR and what was the reason for doing so? We began using our EMR system in December of 2010. The primary reasons for adopting the system were to avoid future reimbursement penalties by CMS, to take advantage of the available HITECH Act payments and to modernize our record keeping system.

What was the biggest challenge of implementing EMR? In addition to the considerable amount of time and resources we applied to the rollout, the biggest challenge of implementation came in the form of the slowdown in productivity by our providers as they learned to navigate the software.

What has been the greatest benefit of using an EMR system? There are several benefits of using an EMR system including confluence of patient care among providers in the practice, clear, concise and complete documentation of patient data and treatment plans as well as the efficiency with which the patient's exam data can be recalled for review, auditing and reporting.

 


David H. Hettler, OD, Drs. May & Hettler, Alexandria, Va.

When did you start using EMR and what was the reason for doing so? We started EMR in the exam room in November 2011. This was in preparation for completing all the steps necessary for Meaningful Use as defined by CMS.

What was the biggest challenge of implementing EMR? The biggest challenge is not getting the doctors to type instead of write, and the biggest problem is developing a new workflow for the data. Our staff has to learn to look in a new place for instructions and prescriptions.

What has been the greatest benefit of using an EMR system? We have better historical tracking of both optical and medical prescriptions. Doctors' handwriting is no longer a problem. A new wrinkle is that now we have doctor typos at the same rate as we had handwriting errors in the past.

 


Alan Ulsifer, OD, CEO and President, FYidoctors, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

When did you start using EMR and what was the reason for doing so? FYidoctors is a consolidation of independent practices with a mixed use of EMR, of which 35 percent incorporate EMR. We are currently rolling out Acuitas. By the end of the year, 100 percent or our 106 locations will have EMR. The prime advantages are automation, accuracy, efficiency and most importantly, the ability to target educate and market to our patients as individuals.

What was the biggest challenge of implementing EMR? By far the biggest challenge is the change of going to a common platform and how it creates short term anxiety. People need reassurance that "it will be okay soon" and that they will, eventually, see the change as an advantage.

What has been the greatest benefit of using an EMR system? The ability to ensure proper follow up, educate by condition, and create practice efficiencies and marketing strategies are the big advantages of a common electronic platform.

 

Shannon Olsson, Project Manager for EMR, Clarkson Eyecare, Ellisville, Mo.

When did you start using EMR and what was the reason for doing so? In June of 2009 we began an aggressive roll out of our Grow|CMS EMR module which we completed in August of 2010. In all 47 of our locations, at that time, every patient was seen using EMR. We elected to take on this project to improve patient care and to be eligible to receive EHR incentives being offered.

What was the biggest challenge of implementing EMR? It's difficult to pinpoint one single challenge, but I would have to say certifying our software to be ONC-ATCB compliant was the biggest challenge.

What has been the greatest benefit of using an EMR system? When we began developing the EMR module of Grow|CMS, the doctor was top of mind. It is seamless for providers to put down the pen and grab the mouse. Everything was designed around them and with regard to the care of the patient. Our software flows in such a manner that is very comfortable to both of them. The implementation never slowed down patient care, and we've been able to make many of our processes more efficient at all levels of our business.

 

If you would like to suggest subjects and/or questions for a future dba q&a, or if you are a mid-size regional optical chain and would like to participate in our next survey, please email jsailer@jobson.com.



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