For over 15 years, I had been using paper and dictation as my methods of documentation. I knew that I needed to change this and find an electronic health record (EHR) system that would hopefully decrease the number of hours spent completing notes as well as increase overall efficiencies at my practice, Northshore Dermatology Center in Lake Bluff, Ill.
Change is Good
I’ll admit that I am not very computer savvy, so the thought of going from paper to electronic was intimidating. When I first learned of EMA at a conference, I instantly loved the fact that it was cloud-based in contrast to other systems I had seen. My office has three locations, so having the ability to access a patient’s chart from any office was very appealing. And the native iPad application is so user-friendly that my fear of going electronic was quickly eliminated.
The Training Process
Once we decided to move forward with EMA, we attended online training sessions once a week. At the end of the training, we started to incorporate the system into our practice by seeing a few patients per day, working our way to completely live in just a few weeks. We successfully went for an archaic paper organization to being fully paperless, which was a phenomenal accomplishment.
Goodbye Hours of Noting
I see about 40-50 patients per day, and prior to EMA I would take my charts home and have to dictate at night. My scribe would then type up the notes and a few days later I would review and sign off. The beauty of EMA is that when I examine a patient, the note is finished the minute I walk out of the room. The previous turn-around time is eliminated and now I have access to the patient chart immediately.
Efficiency is Key
The fact that we can simply touch and tap our way through the patient’s chart on the iPad has been instrumental in increasing efficiency. Since implementing EMA, when my office hours are over, my workday is done. I no longer have to take charts home with me and I’m saving 2-4 hours per day in addition to transcription costs.
The Power of the Cloud
I have three office locations so being cloud-based provides the ease of portability. If my physician’s assistant is seeing a patient in another office and has a question, I can look up the patient information and provide an answer regardless of which office I’m in. Also, if I’m at home I use PocketEMA™ and I’m able to access that information from my iPhone. I have the ability to view when the patient was last seen, what their diagnosis was and refill a prescription, all at my fingertips.
I used to under-code for fear of being audited. EMA does the coding for us based on the documentation that has been done in the chart. Our billing collections have increased and I no longer have to worry if I’m choosing the right code. The transition to ICD-10 has been flawless, and we didn’t skip a beat. I’m now comfortable knowing that I have the backing of the data provided by EMA to help justify the codes.
Beta Tester for Pathology
We became a beta tester for Modernizing Medicine®’s Pathology module, which is another great example of how EMA is continuously evolving. With this component our pathologist can process a specimen in our in-house lab, generate the pathology report and automatically incorporate it into the patient’s chart. This has streamlined our pathology process and it’s made my life a lot easier.