Electronic Medical Records

In recent years, computer hardware and software, internet and network connectivity, have become so much more commonplace and easy to use, that they are even starting to penetrate into the field of healthcare. There is now an entire field of “Healthcare Informatics” or Healthcare Information Technology (HIT).

Many medical offices are thinking about the possibilities of converting from the current paper-based system to an Electronic Medical Record (EMR), also known as an electronic health record (EHR). When a patient is keeping track of their own clinical information, it is known as a “Personal Medical Record” of PMR.

The new concept of patient-centered collaborative healthcare provided by “Ideal Micro-Practices” (IMP) is highly dependent on the efficiencies provided by the EHR. A recent posting on the IMP listserve gave some good advice:

When looking for an affordable EHR, make sure it has the critical functions you will need to succeed, like clinical reporting for pay for performance, web enabled for sending records securely, and a patient portal capability for secure communicating with patients, good (and better in the future) clinical decision support.

If you pick an inexpensive EHR which quickly becomes not functional for your needs, this will cost you much more dollars and pain in the long run. First question to ask today on any EHR, “Is there a registry function?” This needs to be by disease, e.g. type 2 diabetics, so you can search and report among a group of patients. The registry should also be by medication so that if a drug is recalled, you can quickly find out which or your patients are on it. Finally, there is a new certification process for EHRs, CCHIT, and you should not buy an EHR which is not certified (more than 80 are today).

Remember, even a free EHR is too expensive if it does not work right for your needs.

I would suggest looking at DocSite to get functionality and low cost. DocSite sells separately the registry, e-prescribing and the full EHR. This way you can get the most important function first (registry) at low cost and then move forward. Gordon Moore, MD is a spokesperson for DocSite.

Quoted by permission of Joseph E. Scherger, MD, MPH
Clinical Professor, University of California, San Diego
Medical Director, AmeriChoice

That’s good advice indeed.

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Philip A. Gilly, MD, FAAFP is a longtime Family Physician, computer enthusiast, digital photographer and Internet content creator.

Philip owns and operates his own low-overhead solo private practice, the Kinderhook Wellness Center. He also provides web content services for the local medical society, bookstore, and business association through Kinderhook Connection.

Philip has been published in two medical journals, has had numerous articles published in local newspapers on medical issues, and serves as a reviewer for Family Practice Management.

[tags]EMR, EHR, practice improvement, IMP[/tags]