EHR implementation pitfalls can be costly
A major reason for implementing EHRs is to avoid penalties that will be assessed starting in 2015 under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, says Maithily A. Nandedkar, M.D., a dermatologist in private practice in Reston, Va. "But when I started five years ago, I did it just to be efficient," and she says the system she chose has met this goal.
"One of the best capabilities I've found with my EHR system is that I can access all my charts from home," Dr. Nandedkar says. "If a patient calls, I can document that immediately," and notify a staff member who may need to answer the patient's question. "Some malpractice carriers are offering a discount for being able to e-prescribe and document with electronic medical records (EMRs)," she says.
Dr. Nandedkar says her practice has had these capabilities for more than five years, although her malpractice carrier does not discount for them. The e-prescribing program even alerts her to potential medication interactions. "As soon as I see a patient," she says, "I document and bill the encounter, so my cash flow stays consistent."
Dr. Nandedkar says she finds EHRs more efficient than paper. "But if you feel more comfortable implementing e-prescribing first, then do so," she says.
The same goes for dermatologists who want to use an EHR system separate from their practice management system. "There's no rule that makes one thing better than another," she says. "It's just whatever works for you."
Dr. Nandedkar's implementation tips include the following: