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Tuesday, October 02, 2007

A decent way to send and document certified letters

Remember Mad Libs, those funny word games available when we were kids. They were basically stories in which the critical verbiage, adjectives, or nouns were left blank, to filled in by you. Depending on your own creativity, it was possible to create some pretty funny things.

Sending certified letters to non-compliant patients is not funny business, but can be made easier by applying a Mad Lib approach to it, only without the funny adjectives, adverbs, and nouns.

Before I had an EMR, I had to dictate the letter, have it transcribed and printed, then I'd have to review it, make any necessary changes, then repeat above process. That is how I used to do it when I was part of a group. Worked well so long as you can afford a huge staff.

Now that I'm solo, I'm more frugal, and I have an EMR--a home grown one--but an EMR nonetheless.

Here is how I did it until recently. I created a template letter with the date, patient name, DOB, and Dear SoAndSo fields left blank. When generating a letter, I would simply insert the above information, print the letter, sign it, scan a copy back to chart, and send the original. Of course, we would save all the USPS documentation for proof.

Now I think I have even improved the process some more. Currently, I simply print out the blank template letters, have my staff write, by hand, the name, date, and etc onto the letter. The staff then brings the letter to me. I sign it. The letter goes back to staff, who then scans it into the patient chart, places it in the envelope, and then mails it with certified forms attached. We retain USPS forms, which are scanned into the patient charts as well. Takes about 10 seconds per letter, if that. Scanning time for the staff, with an automatic document feeding scanner, is only slightly longer.
My system certainly lacks the prettiness of what you'd expect from an expensive EMR, but what it lacks in style points, it makes up for in efficiency.
Let me know what you think,
The IU.