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Sunday, November 08, 2009

Where an EMR helps and hinders in medical practice

EMR are very useful tools, just not for everything.  If you think about about all the processes that take place in your medical office from the moment a person calls to book an appointment to the moment you get paid, you can determine where the EMR will help and where it will hinder.  Here are some places I think these programs help.
  • Scheduling
  • Prescribing
  • E&M Coding
  • Charge Entry
  • Claim Submission
  • Payment Posting
  • Acounting
  • Auditing
  • Ordering
  • Document Management
  • Clinical Trend Analysis
  • Coordination of Care
  • Patient Compliance
  • Communication
  • Information Flow
  • Documentation*
Of course, not all processes are streamlined with an EMR.  The main example of this, and perhaps the only example, is the physician's encounter.  It takes longer for the doctor to document a patient encounter with an EMR.  And the doctor has to expend more effort to document the encounter.  Both the effort and time required to document improve over time, however.

Also, EMR generated notes are more cumbersome to read, which can make it more difficult for the doctor to get at the "essence" of his/her prior encounter.  Of course, this can overcome by adding memory joggers into the document.

On the balance, EMRs are improvements over business as usual for the small independent medical practice.

Dr Schoor