By Jason R. Miller, OD, MBA
Nov. 18, 2015
Electronic health records can improve your communication and connection with your patients–if you understand how best to optimize its use.
INPUT COMPREHENSIVE DATA. In addition to clinical diagnoses and eyewear prescriptions, also record patient lifestyle needs.
EDUCATE PATIENT IN EXAM ROOM. Let patients know how they can use your EHR’s Personal Health Record (PHR) to connect with you and to review findings and schedule appointments.
DISCOVER HOW TO MOST EFFICIENTLY USE EHR. Explore a variety of efficiency opportunities in the exam room. For example, you may find the personal history tabs most useful.
Electronic health records (EHR) offer doctors the advantage of secure, instant access to comprehensive information about each patient. With the click of mouse, or a tap on a tablet screen, such easy access to so much information about each patient enables us to more effectively communicate and connect with our patients.
EHR allows us to ask better informed questions about the patient’s eyes and health history, while also making it easier to determine, based on past conversations, eyewear that suits the patient’s lifestyle.
Here is how my practice uses our EHR, RevolutionEHR, to improve communication and enhance the relationship between doctor and patient.
Having an EHR that continues to improve and develop around the growing optometric field is critical to success. RevolutionEHR’s commitment to ongoing enhancements enables me to continually optimize my patient care schedule while allowing me more face-to-face time with my patients.
Facilitate Doctor’s Knowledge of Patient History
Our EHR is the hub of everything we do with our patients! While in the exam room, it all starts with a good history. Patients may not reveal everything to our staff during the pre-exam questioning.
So, the first thing I do with every patient is review their concerns and ask more probing questions.RevolutionEHR provides an area in the encounter that not only helps drive that questioning, but makes it easy to document with ready-made templates for diagnoses.
For example, if a patient with a red eye presents in my office, we utilize this tool to get as much information as possible about their condition. The EHR has a template for each diagnosis, which prompts us to ask specific questions and document the findings.
Comprehensive information from previous exams is important, but having a current running list of the patient’s medical conditions and current medications at our fingertips is even more critical. Our EHR provides this information front and center on every patient.
As soon as I log into a patient’s file, I see information about their current health status, including current diagnoses and medications, without having to waste time searching through multiple pages of past exam data.
Family history is also important to reference for many specific diseases like diabetes and glaucoma. RevolutionEHR makes it easy to review family health history for each patient. In addition, the EHR reminds us to ask about other family members who are due for an eye exam. RevolutionEHR color codes family members who have not been seen within a specific period of time, and then at check-out our support staff asks the patient if they would like to schedule their past-due family members for a visit.
Educate Patients About Patient Portal
I let all of my patients know that we have an online Personal Health Record (PHR), also known as the patient portal, which they can access securely from anywhere. I explain that they can communicate with us and schedule their next appointment through that secure portal at their convenience.
I see the PHR becoming more and more useful within all areas of our business. I see it improving patient care and streamlining the need for follow-up visits. For example, we are now able to securely message a new multifocal contact lens patient to see how they are doing, without having them come into the office for a visit. If they have visual complaints, we can then make an adjustment in their diagnostic lenses without having them come in, and minimize their follow-up visits to our office.
Related ROB Articles
Related ROB Videos
Explore Efficiency Opportunities the in Exam Room
RevolutionEHR has multiple ways to access data in the exam room. Every doctor has to see, through trial and error, what works best for them. For me, it is easiest to utilize the history tabs inside every screen, thus making it quick and easy to see historical data for each test conducted on the patient since they first began visiting us as a patient.
Ensure Continuity of the Patient Experience with a Commitment to Capturing Data
Inputting new information during the exam is a challenge. We utilize multiple methods to accomplish this:
USE SCRIBES. We recently hired a scribe, but since we have multiple doctors seeing patients at the same time, we share this scribe. I often try to input information as I go myself, rather than relying entirely on the scribe.
USE PULL-FORWARD DATA. RevolutionEHR provides a pull-data-forward option for many tests. I will do that, then edit the changes I have found. This minimizes the amount of time I need to turn and work on the computer during the examination.
MAP OUT BEST TIME TO CHART. Finally, for some of my more complex patients who need extra charting, I will complete their file after the patient leaves, when I have time to go back and do a thorough job.
Another challenge is remembering which kind of data is most useful to input into the EHR. Lifestyle information is critical. The patient’s occupation, and where they work, along with their hobbies, are critical to understanding their visual demands throughout the day. Those are the most important details for me, so I know which types of vision correction (specific contact lenses and/or ophthalmic lenses) to recommend.
Identify Room for Further EHR Optimization
I am learning to do a better job with truly understanding the patient’s reasons for their visit. I spend quite a bit of time understanding their visual needs and offering solutions to their concerns. RevolutionEHR makes the utilization of their system easy, and documentation of the encounter is straightforward. That allows me to delegate some of the inputting to my staff while I am examining and talking with the patient. This ease-of-use allows me to focus on my interaction with the patient, rather than the computer screen.