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    9 ways EHRs save time and money

    EHRs might seem scary, but if used well they can streamline your practice and make it more profitable.

     

    5. Space

    Getting rid of paper files means getting rid of the storage space. That also means that one is free to do something more productive with that dead space.

    “A lot of offices have space that is taken up with charts, and if you can find a way to get rid of those you’ve just created space,” Dr. Lavine says. “Whether it’s for another operatory, whether it’s more space for staff — if you want to bring in somebody else who can do marketing or serve other functions. On the flipside, if you have a truly efficient system, you can minimize the need for staff. You may not need as many people, so you can do some cutbacks as necessary. If you’ve got data already entered, you don’t need as many people handling those responsibilities.”

    Trending article: How EHRs can streamline referral processes

    6. Interoperability

    While having a standardized system is vital within an organization, Uretz points out that EHRs also facilitate the ability to work with outside providers like specialists, even if they have different software systems. Being able to transmit a complete, comprehensive patient clinical file between members of the patient’s care team makes the work more efficient and timely. No more faxes, returning phone calls and other hassles.

    “EHR technology exists where, for example, the oral surgeon can get the clinical information for a specific patient electronically from the referring dentist, including medication, allergies, past procedures, recommendations and so forth,” Uretz says. “The information for the oral surgeon is invaluable because they want to know what you did and, in return, once the oral surgeon completes his or her work and you have to treat the patient, on the flip side, as a referring dentist now you have a record of what the oral surgeon did with your patient — and it’s all electronic and at your fingertips.”

    Patient information can be shared between dental and medical providers via EHRs, allowing all providers on a patient’s care team to give care with the best, most complete information.

    “It is truly an ‘organic patient health record,’” Uretz says. “Wherever that patient goes, whatever specialists they see — including hospitals — all pertinent clinical information is available at the touch of a button. So different specialists, different hospitals can see and can add to that record. What we’re developing with the electronic health records is an organic growth of that patient’s health records, no matter what happens to them — whether it’s medical or dental.”

    Another issue with EHRs comes down to a matter of doing business. There may come a time when EHRs are the standard way to conduct interoffice communication. From a business standpoint, Uretz observes that having an interoperable EHR can lead to more efficient business relationships. 

    “Over the years, as I’ve helped medical and dental clients of mine select and purchase EHRs, they point out that they would prefer to do business electronically, if they have a choice,” Uretz says. “If they have a choice of having to fax somebody or make phone calls, or they can just push a button and get that information on their computer, what the patient did with another group, obviously, they’d rather do business with them. I believe that more people want to do business with each other that way.”

    Related reading: How EHRs can improve your practice

    7. Convenience

    Another timesaver, Dr. Flucke notes, is simply the ability to have convenient access to patient data. 

    “You don’t have to be with the patient to look at something about the patient,” he says. “I can be at my desk and review X-rays or I can be at my desk and I can look at intraoral photos or I can check a new patient’s health history, or anything like that. The data goes anywhere you want it to, so it’s not like I have to go to a certain spot in the office and do everything. I can be sitting at my desk and when a new patient comes in, the minute their data is available for viewing, I can do that right then. There’s no having to find the health history or having to go down to the hygiene operatory to access it. And that just streamlines everything. You don’t always have to go up and do things when the data is mobile.”

     

    Continue to page four for more...

    Robert Elsenpeter
    Robert Elsenpeter is a freelance writer and frequent contributor to Dental Products Report and Digital Esthetics. He is also the author ...

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