At our EMA Central Live event in Santa Monica earlier this year, Modernizing Medicine met the team from Dermatology Associates of Napa Valley, an EMA Dermatology™ client for a little over a year now. What struck us most about this group was how energized and enthusiastic they were about EMA, how dedicated they were to learning about it, and how many “best practices” they picked up along the way that they were eager to pass along.
We spoke with Dr. Robert Davis, one of the practice’s two dermatologists, who shares in the Q&A below why EMA was the right EMR system for their practice, how their office flow works with EMA, how they easily qualified for and attained Meaningful Use and what have been their biggest ‘lessons learned’ so far.
Q: What made you decide to implement EMA?
Dr. Davis: Last year I brought in a younger partner, and I felt that electronic medical record systems were the way of the future. I chose EMA because it was dermatology-specific and easy-to-use, which wasn’t the case with all of the other systems I reviewed. I also felt that the price was fair and reasonable. My office staff is young and tech savvy, so I thought it would be a great fit for our practice.
Q: How did the implementation go?
Dr. Davis: Very smoothly. Our whole staff participated in the EMA Flex Web-based training, which was very valuable. Whenever I had a question, I’d pick up the phone and call Modernizing Medicine. The service was great. In the first three months, I had a lot of questions and they were always there to help. I see about 40 patients per day, and by implementing EMA my efficiency has now increased, which greatly increased my revenues as well.
Q: How does your office flow work with EMA?
Dr. Davis: One of my MAs and I are in the room together with the patient. I face the patient, say what I’m doing as I progress through the exam and the MA scribes for me with the iPad. Since I often treat multiple problems for each patient, there’s sometimes a lag time for the MA to enter everything into the system. So, when the visit is finished, I step out of the room and wait a minute or two to let the MA finish entering all of the data into EMA. During that time I answer phone calls, meet with drug reps, do prescription refills, and check in with the receptionist and office manager. When the MA steps out of the room, in most cases, I finalize the note right there.
At noon, I touch-up any charts I didn’t finalize from the morning. And at the end of the day, I meet with my MAs for 15-20 minutes and together we review any charts that I hadn’t finalized to see if there are any corrections. The MA who helped me during each visit makes any corrections to that specific chart, which is an effective learning technique. Early on we had many charts to review, but now there are usually just a few charts that we fine-tune together.
Q: Your practice successfully attested for Meaningful Use with EMA in 2012. Do you have any advice for others?
Dr. Davis: My biggest recommendation would be to monitor your progress from day one and check it frequently. EMA keeps track of everything for you, you simply need to click on a little icon. We’d watch it every day to monitor how we were doing against the requirements. It’s important to do that so that you can course-correct. Within a few weeks, we went from meeting 60 percent of the requirements to meeting 90 percent. We got the maximum payout when we attested, and we couldn’t have done it without EMA.
Q: How has your staff responded to using EMA?
Dr. Davis: Our staff is young and tech savvy and they really enjoy working with EMA on their iPads. They love their iPhones and iPads for personal use, and they’d much rather use iPads than write on a paper chart with a pencil. An added benefit is that learning to use and working with EMA together has built greater camaraderie among the team.
Q: What are your biggest “lessons learned” or advice for other physicians considering EMA?
Dr. Davis: My biggest piece of advice would be to give yourself time to learn the system. Like anything new, there’s a learning curve. The first three months I was slower, but then I got really fast. Take the time to train properly and have your staff trained. Go into it with an open mind and make it a fun learning experience for the team. It will pay off. Implementing EMA is definitely one of the best things I’ve ever done for my practice.