Are You Spending Too Much Time With Your Orthopedic EMR?

by Jason Weisstein, MD, MPH, FACS | , , ,

Here are five signs your orthopedic software may be wasting your time instead of saving it

Time is important when diagnosing and treating patients, performing surgery and aiding in patient recovery. Making the most use of your time with your orthopedic software, like an electronic medical record (EMR) system, can really help maximize important aspects of the health of your practice.

When you work with the best orthopedic EMR system you may experience less wasted time spent documenting with your EMR and more time with your patients. Caring for patients is why you became an orthopedic surgeon in the first place, right?

Here are five scenarios that may indicate you spend too much time with your EMR system. Discover how switching to an orthopedic EMR system, one built by practicing physicians, may be part of the solution. If any of these situations sound all too familiar, new orthopedic EMR software may be just what you need.

1. You consistently spend more time on office documentation and less time with patients during office visits.

Typical orthopedic EMR templates won’t save you time, but the ability to create master visits, like Protocols, can. And how about an orthopedic EMR that has an adaptive learning engine, remembering and highlighting your preferred treatment plans? 

The most effective­ orthopedic EMR systems should have orthopedic-specific diagnoses, orders, orthopedic billing codes and much more, all built in from day one. Rather than forcing you to spend weeks building out orthopedic templates, the right system should already have done the work for you. Your orthopedic software should also easily adapt to your specific daily workflow.

For example, systems should remember your top clinical scenarios and adapt to individual physician’s unique preferences. This helps allow for rapid capture of the structured data needed for accurate orthopedic billing, while maintaining control of the output. Simply put, features tailored specifically to orthopedic practices will be more effective when it comes to addressing your needs without the burden and cost of extensive customization.

In theory, you should have the ability to document your patient visit during the time you are in the exam room and not spend hours after clinic or surgery finishing charts and completing other necessary documentation. This will help ensure your precious time is spent on the most precious things in your life, such as family and hobbies.

“Modernizing Medicine’s orthopedic EMR system, EMA, comes with built-in orthopedic content and can be further customized with your own Protocols. This allows the flexibility to personalize the system to fit the way you practice without having to create new templates from scratch.” – Gabby Hawkins, Practice Manager, Spine Care of North Texas

2. When you have questions on your standalone EMR and practice management systems, you have to contact multiple vendors.

Say you need help on utilizing a new EMR feature or want to ask about practice management training materials for a new staff member? What if you want to attend the vendors’ annual users conferences? If you work with separate vendors for your orthopedic EMR and your practice management systems, this will only add to the time required to reach out to different points of contact and wait for an answer, causing you to get pulled in many different directions.

Plus, if you switch and work with a single vendor that offers a complete orthopedic software solution, it can help eliminate expensive (and inefficient) bridges. This can positively affect inter-office communications, streamline workflow, help with collections and ultimately provide a better patient experience. You want the clinical side of your orthopedic practice to run just as smoothly as the operational side of the house. Part of the solution to do that is by opting for an integrated orthopedic EMR system and an advanced practice management solution.

“My front office staff loves the check-in and checkout process; especially the ability to view outstanding balances for collections before the appointment. This is much better than our previous system. We had separate EMR and PM systems and we had to log into both and manually enter information between the two systems. The integration between EMA and PM is great!” – Nicole Mayo, Daily Operations Manager, Panhandle Orthopaedics

3. You attempt to manually track financial and clinical data to identify areas of opportunity in your orthopedic practice.

How can you truly know how your practice, physicians and staff are performing if there’s no way to track results? Or if you’re spending hours trying to manually track data without the help of technology? Going on anecdotal data isn’t enough in this tech-focused and data-driven day and age.

Part of the answer includes an orthopedic EMR system that captures structured, actionable data at the point of care. The other half of the answer is an orthopedic analytics platform that can help you slice and dice the administrative, provider and financial analytics as needed.

By using an analytics platform that integrates with your orthopedic EMR and practice management systems, it can help you optimize clinical, financial and operational performance. 

You should also be able to track results and answer questions like:

  • Which carpal tunnel patients did you order surgery for?
  • How many level 4 new-patient visits did you have?
  • Where am I referring my complex hand and ankle cases? Does it make financial sense to bring them in house?
  • Which physical therapists refer the most patients? Where are there opportunities to grow the referral base?
  • How many patients in my practice received viscosupplementation injections?
  • Who in my practice is using injectable biologics and how often?

Just like you need a holistic view of your patient’s health, you need the same when it comes to your orthopedic practice’s performance. It can help put you and your practice in a better position for long-term success.

“Analytics provides an integrated, easy-to-use solution to find data on practice performance. I can customize my own reports and have the information I need at a few clicks of a button.” – Samantha Childs, Billing Administrator, Panhandle Orthopaedics

4. You and your staff are frustrated with wasting time and money on server upgrades.

Still not using cloud-based orthopedic software? Now may be the ideal time to look into a cloud-based, orthopedic EMR solution. Come January 2020, Microsoft will end support for Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2. Don’t worry just yet, you have options. You can opt to upgrade your servers, switch to your current vendor’s cloud-based option, transition to a vendor that offers a cloud solution or use a third-party cloud vendor.

If you ask me, opting for a cloud-based orthopedic solution, whether that is with your current EMR vendor or a new one, is the ideal solution.

So what are the benefits of the cloud?

Convenience. Your vendor will manage the IT issues and infrastructure, which means less worrying about keeping servers running, overseeing (and paying) IT staff to manage the hardware, backups, interfaces, etc. Those server requirements result in time away from doing what you do best, treating patients. Plus if you’re adding a new facility or working from home, you will have accessibility and mobility with a cloud-based, orthopedic software solution.

Tech support. If you keep a server-based solution, you’ll have to call your EMR vendor, your internet provider and your server-provider when something goes wrong. That’s three phone calls to try to pinpoint where the issue lies which results in wasted time and not to mention a massive headache. With a cloud, orthopedic EMR, you’ll have one less call to make, which should equate to a more efficient use of time.

Security. Having a cloud solution can help mitigate the threat from viruses and ransomware. A cloud-based vendor will often have a dedicated security team to help monitor cloud infrastructure and keep up with potential threats. In addition, a cloud option can help protect again on-site security issues – think natural disasters and theft.

“The biggest advantage for us is having all of our information in the cloud. It enables easy access to patient information, in one system, with just a few clicks or keystrokes. It is more fluid in sharing of information between provider and staff, and leaves a digital footprint as we communicate and care for our patients. It has challenged us to come out of our comfort zones to share in the patient experience.”      – Jessica Nin, Practice Manager, Palm Beach Hand to Shoulder

5. You spin your wheels trying to track down patients for follow-ups and can’t connect with them outside of the office visit.

Does your office staff spend valuable time calling patients to confirm appointments, attempting to fill last minute openings and dealing with missed appointments? If this sounds all too familiar, have no fear. Tools exist to help mitigate this challenge for practice staff and patients alike. Cue automated patient reminders. With increasingly busy schedules and various communication channels, automated texts, emails and phone call reminders can reduce the time your staff spends picking up the phone and also helps to proactively remind patients of their upcoming appointment. It can prompt them to reschedule versus just not showing up. It also helps inform them of unpredictable changes in the schedule, such as weather-related delays and closures.

Patient engagement extends far beyond reminders, though. We all despise the dreaded clipboard with pages of paper work, boxes that are too small to write and repetitive questions handed over at check-in. A check-in kiosk solves this for the patient and streamlines workflow for the staff as pertinent information is captured on an iPad and automatically links to the patient’s chart to provide a more seamless experience.

Ever wonder what the patient really thinks about their experience post exam? It’s oftentimes a mystery. Once a patient leaves, you may not know when you will see them again. Patient surveys can be a helpful tool. Post appointment, patients receive a message to rate the experience with the provider. If the review is 4 or 5 stars, the patient would be invited to leave a review on the site defined by the provider. However, if the rating is 3 stars or lower, the patient is invited to share additional feedback privately to the practice, which could help improve future appointments. This helps the practice to identify areas of improvement and shows the patient that the provider cares. It can turn patients into advocates and in the end help to enhance the overall patient-doctor relationship, impacting the health of the practice.

“modmed Kiosk streamlines the check-in process, saving a few minutes per patient, which enables us to see more patients than with paper. Also, we have reduced errors with modmed Kiosk because we no longer have to decipher poor handwriting.” – Lisa Saunders, Practice Administrator, Jupiter Orthopedics and Sports Medicine

Conclusion

The right orthopedic software should adapt to fit your workflow – not the other way around. Busy orthopedic surgeons and their practice need simple solutions. Find the best orthopedic software solution for your practice’s needs and one that can help make switching as easy as 1, 2, 3.

See how you can achieve a healthier practice with modmed® Orthopedics

Jason Weisstein, MD, MPH, FACS

Jason Weisstein, MD, MPH, FACS

Medical Director of Orthopedics at Modernizing Medicine

Dr. Jason Weisstein is the Medical Director of Orthopedics. A native of southern California, he graduated Valedictorian from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City in 1998. Simultaneous with his medical education, Dr. Weisstein received a masters of public health at Columbia University in New York, NY. He subsequently completed his surgical internship and orthopedic surgery residency training at the University of California, San Francisco, and then went on to receive fellowship training at the University of Washington. Dr. Weisstein specializes in joint replacement and limb salvage surgery. His interest lies in the restoration of function in limbs that are in jeopardy, either from arthritis, tumors or other diseases. He currently serves as the Director of both the Center for Joint Preservation and Replacement and the Center for Musculoskeletal Oncology at the Paley Institute in West Palm Beach, Fla. He also serves as an Affiliate Assistant Professor in Orthopaedic Surgery at Florida Atlantic University’s Schmidt College of Medicine.

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