Practice Size Correlates to EHR Usage

EHR Buyer GuideThe National Center for Health Statistics concluded in January of 2014 that a majority of office based doctors (78.4%) utilized electronic health record systems (EHR) in 2013. However, it was noted that practice size correlated to the usage of EHRs. A staggering half of doctors in solo practices did not use EHR, while a mere 10% of physicians in practices with 20 plus didn’t. From these statistics it is clear that many of those considering switching to EHR are going to be smaller practices. Given that the entire health industry is gradually shifting to online services, such as online access to test results for patients, online CPR certifications and information, websites that track health symptoms, it is not a matter of if smaller practices will adopt EHR, but when. The decision to move from a paper to medical records system is an extensive endeavor, but once you have determined to move to an EHR, your next step will be to resolve the planning stages that will lead up to implementation. What information and which documents will you choose to incorporate? How will this information be processed?

Understanding all of the costs of your EHR is important, especially potential future costs, which can change how you view your implementation planning stages. See some of the resources below to determine the different costs of EHR implementation.

Additionally, it will be up to you to determine the capabilities and limitations of your new EHR system. EHR systems are meant to store your patients’ health information in a secure and structured way. Most likely, the paper documents you have collected over the years on your patients’ histories are an unstructured mass of information. It would be impractical, inefficient, and costly to move all of this data to a structured format, and therefore, utilizing the scan what you need approach is offered as an alternative.

Scanning in conjunction with your EHR system can make for a smooth transition. The benefits of employing centralized document scanning are plentiful. Scanning operators have experience handling high volumes of paperwork, are only focused on scanning (making them more reliable than office staff who would also have to tend to their normal duties), can provide a secure setting in which to transfer your papers to electronic documents, operate at high speeds, and finally, they offer high quality services (some office scanners just don’t do as well and can’t handle certain workloads). If you have an insurmountable amount of documents you deemed important to incorporate into your EHR system, it could justify the costs of a document scanning service. Just know there are downsides. Physically moving the documents will always open up your information to some sort of risk, you will not have access to your files for an extended period of time (they will be off site), and depending on whether or not you have your records indexed, scanning can become quite expensive.

For smaller practices that have decided to move to an EHR system, understanding the true costs (both positive and negative) is important. EHR, when coupled with scanning, can be a remarkably uneventful transition. Knowing the upsides and downsides never hurts though.

About the Author: Candice Artland works with RecordNations (@record_nations). Candice has enjoyed analyzing movements to electronics records management and loves helping businesses learn about new and efficient ways to manage their personal and professional records.  You can reach Candice by email here