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    9 questions to ask about EHR

    Should your practice enter the world of EHR? You should consider these things before you take the plunge.

     

    Computer with sticky notes

    6. “Will having an EHR make my practice more efficient?”

    It certainly can, if you utilize all it has to offer. From streamlining information entry, offering electronic prescriptions and patient images, and automating patient recall, EHRs have the tools to optimize your workflow. 

    “Because, in many cases, billing information is manually entered into the practice management system after the patient clinical encounter, it’s not a streamlined process and can be prone to errors,” Uretz says. “With EHRs, [practices] have the ability to enter this information at the point of care when the work is performed and thus electronically move through the claims process without any double entry. In many cases that allows practices to be paid faster and prevents mistakes.” 

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    Electronic prescriptions offer more than convenience, says Uretz. “When you have a patient in the chair and need to prescribe medicine, you can push a button and get the information you need: all the meds a patient has been prescribed, whether from a hospital, primary care physician, nursing home or other provider,” he says.

    “Instead of the patient having to remember all of their medications, you have that information at your fingertips. You also have access to the contraindications. So, for example, if you prescribe a pain med, you’ll see if there is a potential interaction with other medications they’re on or with their allergies, which is good for patient care and especially helpful from a liability perspective. You’ll also see how they might tie in to dental conditions. It might say that certain drugs you are prescribing might cause dry mouth, for instance. And some systems allow you to see real-time formulary insurance coverage, so you know if you should prescribe a generic version or another drug. You’ll know before the patient leaves the chair if the prescription is covered by their insurance.” 

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    In addition, having access to patient images in the software means no more switching systems. “If you’re doing a procedure or diagnosis and you want to see an image from a few months ago, you can have access to it without having to switch to the imaging software,” Uretz says. 

    Finally, they offer automated recall. “If you have a patient visit and a follow-up is needed based on clinical rules you have put into the EHR, the system automatically can push out recalls in a number of ways to the patient, including the patient portal,” says Uretz. “That’s important because if you miss a potential recall, that’s business lost. Also, the next time a patient calls or comes in for a visit, the care team will be aware of any medical or dental alerts.” 

    Next: How will the system improve patient education?

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