Digital Edition

Practice Management: Integrating EHR

User-friendly interfaces, specialty-specific software and improved integration define the latest trends in electronic health records.
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The U.S. Government’s mandate that the healthcare industry adopt the use of electronic health records (EHR) by 2015 has ushered in a new generation of record-keeping systems. Some of these new software solutions offer attractive features for elective cosmetic surgery practices that can improve efficiency and reduce both storage and staffing costs.

The software may include specialty-specific features, cloud-based technologies and the ability to integrate the records system with practice management software.

“The average practice wastes 15% of every day searching for paper charts,” says Jerry Jacobson, President and CEO of PatientNOW, a leading provider of business technology based in Greenwood, Colorado ( He notes that new levels of integration allow for streamlined encounter note creation, transparency with the billing/invoicing/inventory systems and improved fraud prevention. “This truly creates a fully electronic office,” he says.

EHR Advantages

Many practices that remain hesitant to adopt EHR point to their experiences with early systems that were bogged down with clunky interfaces, riddled with complex, multi-layered, drop-down menus. In addition, rather than improving patient care, early legacy client-server systems made for impersonal doctor-patient interactions. Often, the physician spent more time addressing a computer screen than actively engaging the patient. The majority of new EHR systems have addressed these concerns by adding user-friendly touch screens and software that can be deployed both on the web and through iPad applications.

“An iPad app lets the doctor have something even smaller than a conventional paper chart sitting in the doctor’s lap, allowing [him] to interact and engage with the patient in a more natural manner,” says Tim Sayed, medical director for EMA Plastic Surgery and EMA Cosmetic, two specialty-specific EHR systems from Modernizing Medicine (

Another advantage of EHR is that it can reduce costs. Unnecessary staff expenses and storage costs are eliminated with electronic records because they don’t require physical space and are more easily accessible than paper versions.

In addition to time and cost savings, medical records storage through digital means eliminates the threat of losing patient health information in the event of a disaster. EHR systems are backed up regularly and are accessible from any location.

“Physicians, like most people, are growing increasingly accustomed to a mobile information lifestyle: the ability to access and post information from nearly any location,” Sayed says. “If they can access their personal finance data on an iPad in Starbucks, why not be able to check or enter a patient’s notes on an iPad or other mobile device, as long as the process is secure?”

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