While digital technology is transforming healthcare by leaps & bounds, the concept remains alien to most medical practitioners in India. The advent of the electronic health record (EHR) system has revamped the entire healthcare system in the USA, Canada and UK. Despite making great waves abroad, our Indian medical community – particularly the small practice owner – has not touched base with it.
Technology is knocking at our doors, and Western experts affirm that doctors should “Use it or lose it!”
The paperless practice
While there is no denying the fact that a truly paperless practice is almost impossible today, EHR and practice management software offer numerous benefits to overcome paper-related inefficiencies.
The ‘paperless medical practice’ is just a concept to help reduce paper dependency and related inefficiencies. It is the desired future outcome that slowly prepares doctors to reduce their reliance on paper and dedicate their attention to patient care. In fact, if anything, this whole concept is designed to facilitate clinicians and practitioners.
It is understandable that smaller medical practices lack the technology, trained IT staff and system support, or afraid to include it into their ‘set’ practice. Moreover, a paperless practice is considered expensive and out of reach. However, this is entirely untrue. By installing affordable practice management software that runs even on low-end computers & mobile devices, smaller setups can easily & cheaply move to a paperless practice.
Here’s how clinicians can make the most out of technology by reducing dependency on paper:
1. Better emergency response
Practice management & EHR software reduces dependence on manual processes in maintaining records and patient data. Clinicians can access patient files, laboratory reports and diagnostic tests from anywhere, even by using their mobile phones. This allows quick response in case of an emergency and easy access on-the-go.
2. Enhanced productivity
EHRs reduce file load and paper dependency, allowing doctors and medical staff to dedicate more time to patients. When all practice information including patient records are instantly accessible in one place, time spent on menial work is greatly reduced and both doctors and the medical staff becomes much more efficient.
3. Improved patient experience
In usual practices, lengthy paper documentation is not only a hassle, it is also prone to omissions, confusion, errors due to illegible handwriting, spelling errors, and so on. When patient records are computerized and readily available to patients, they are free from the hassle of maintaining paper files and have a much better healthcare experience.
4. Robust data storage and availability
Digital patient records are alphabetized, assembled in databases and easily accessible. All information is neatly organized and optimized for the doctor’s use. Moreover, when data is stored on the cloud, it is usually encrypted and stored behind a heavily guarded password-protected section.
5. Cost benefit
There are numerous medical studies that compare the cost of two systems – paper vs digital practice. One such study compared the net present value, benefit-cost ratio, and discounted payback period of the two systems. It concluded that while electronic systems may have a greater overall administrative cost, they are cost-effective in terms of positive cumulative value, i.e. by reducing cost and increasing revenues for the practice.
The shift from a paper-dependent setting to a digital powered one does not have to be expensive. By installing lower-cost and lower-risk technology into current processes, medical practices can move towards a more efficient and secure digital system.
Do you have any queries regarding digitizing your practice with practice management software? Call 08033013040 or visit the Practo Ray website.
- Bramble JD, Galt KA, Siracuse MV, et al. The relationship between physician practice characteristics and physician adoption of electronic health records. Health Care Manage Rev. 2010 Jan-Mar;35(1):55-64. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20010013
- Poissant L , Pereira J, Tamblyn R, et al. The Impact of Electronic Health Records on Time Efficiency of Physicians and Nurses: A Systematic Review. J Am Med Inform Assoc. 2005 Sep-Oct; 12(5): 505–516. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1205599/
- Choi JS, Lee WB and Ree PL. Cost-Benefit Analysis of Electronic Medical Record System at a Tertiary Care Hospital. Healthc Inform Res. Sep 2013; 19(3): 205–214. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3810528/