In the medical profession, experience matters. Taking on fill-in roles after optometry school gave me the opportunity to learn what I would need to build a successful optometric practice.
One of the benefits of taking on fill-in work was the hands-on experience using different EHR solutions to document patient care. When I started my practice in 2016, I decided to use a popular server-based EHR and practice management solution because my peers used it, and because it was familiar to me since I had used the EHR during my fill-in work.
I soon realized that I needed to change the software if I wanted my practice to succeed. While the EHR worked well enough that I could live with it, it was slowing down our workflow, and I saw that my staff wasn’t happy with the software.
To run a practice under the mission of providing personalized eyecare to our patients by utilizing cutting-edge technology, I knew that my staff had to be just as confident and comfortable using the practice management side of the system as I was using the EHR. The next practice management and EHR system for my practice needed to provide structure, be easy to use, be designed for an organized patient exam, and be accessible when I needed it.
Here’s how my new practice management and EHR software helped take my practice to the next level.
EHR System Creates An Organized Patient Journey
While attending the Vision Source Exchange in 2016, I passed by a cloud-based practice management and EHR vendor’s booth when my office manager and husband noticed the clean, modern design. The simple design lends itself to an organized patient journey from the moment a patient schedules an appointment to when they check out.
With a small staff, we often have to perform multiple roles to make sure we’re providing our patients with quality care. Because of this, patient information needs to be readily available to my staff and me.
What has been a huge help for me is the ability to automatically send notes that I make during the exam to my front desk at checkout. When a patient goes up front, my staff already has the information they need to print prescriptions, place orders and pay invoices all on one tab. Additionally, being able to have patients fill out their paperwork before the exam has helped us cut 5-7 minutes from the exam because their information is directly imported to the patient’s profile and the EHR for me to quickly review.
It Uses Best Practices To Provide Structure
A commonly viewed advantage of my previous EHR was that it was heavily customizable. Unfortunately, from my time doing fill-in work, I learned that this could be a drawback for fill-in doctors and staff members. Because it could be so heavily customized, there was little consistency in the solution, which caused delays while trying to find fields that change locations depending on the doctor’s preference.
While my current EHR and practice management solution offers multiple levels of customization, the solution is structured in a way that uses best practices to help guide our team through every patient encounter effectively.
It Provides Secure Remote Access
Always having access to my patient records is important to me. However, with my previous EHR vendor, when I wanted to access patient records outside of my practice, I had to go through a long, complex process to gain remote access to the workstation at my practice. Even then, the lag-time and poor resolution made it difficult to use.
Switching to a cloud-based solution makes it easy for me to access patient data securely, from any device as long as I have an internet connection. Last summer I was able to access the patient data from Europe when my staff had a question. And earlier in the year, the desktop in one of my exam lanes stopped working, but I was able to access the EHR on my iPad to document the exam without having to reschedule the patient.
It Makes Training New Employees A Breeze
One of the biggest fears that I had when switching to a new EHR was moving my data over and getting my team trained on it. Thankfully, the vendor had training materials that made it easy for me and my team to learn the system. Even now if my staff or I have any questions, or are unclear on how something works, the vendor’s support team is very helpful and quick to get in touch with us.
When two new staff members joined my practice, it was only a matter of days, and they were already confident in using the system to schedule patients and pull patient benefits to keep my practice running at full efficiency. It really has been remarkable seeing how easy it is for new hires to pick up and learn the system just by diving in and getting their hands on it.
It Grows With My Practice
I’ll be honest, when my practice first went live with the practice management and EHR solution I currently use, things weren’t perfect. However, the company made it easy for my staff and me to submit tickets and contact their support team.
On occasion, after submitting a ticket, their team would contact me to give me an update on when a solution could be expected, this gave me confidence that the vendor was committed to making the software work for my practice, my patients, and me.
And in the couple of years that I’ve been using the software, it’s come a long way. Updates to the system are happening monthly, and since it is cloud-based, the updates happen overnight without having to install updates myself. Now, managing claims from the software is super easy, and their EHR is one of the best I have used.
My new practice management and EHR software comes embedded with tools like ePrescribing, patient recall, frames catalogs, patient education and code verification to help make my practice more cohesive. I feel confident that the software is going to continue to work and grow with my patient and practice needs.
Request a demo of the software that has modernized my practice and made me more efficient.
Shazeen Ali, OD, is a partner with Ranch Road Vision Source in Austin, Texas.