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How to best utilize EHR technology as an independent physician

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Picture it: Patient A needs to see a specialty physician. Her independent physician must send a referral and then, of course, will want to see the specialty physician’s notes and any test results. So, Patient A’s independent physician calls the specialty physician, then faxes over a written referral. After Patient A sees her specialty physician, those notes and test results are faxed back over to the independent physician. Many of the notes are handwritten and some are difficult to read. All of the paperwork is stored in a file on a shelf.

Now picture the independent physician using electronic health records (EHRs). The provider reviews the patient’s medical data before the visit, including all notes input by the specialty physician and laboratories that provided healthcare services to Patient A. Referrals are made online and all information is clearly written and categorized so there are no misunderstandings based on misread handwriting.

In the second picture, the independent physician has utilized the EHR technology to create more efficiencies within the practice, saving time and reducing the likelihood of potential errors that could be devastating to the patient and to the practice. The provider is able to chart faster, as the patient’s data is available with the click of a mouse and notes can be added and reviewed in real time.

Utilizing EHR technology can save the independent physician approximately 10-15 hours per week, time that can be better spent interacting with patients and responding to follow-up communications. A more efficient practice, more secure patient data, and less time spent on charting are keys in combating physician burnout and providing higher quality care for patients.

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) details a number of significant benefits for the independent physician who utilizes EHR technology:

  • Providing accurate, up-to-date, and complete information about patients at the point of care
  • Enabling quick access to patient records for more coordinated, efficient care
  • Securely sharing electronic information with patients and other clinicians
  • Helping providers more effectively diagnose patients, reduce medical errors, and provide safer care
  • Improving patient and provider interaction and communication, as well as health care convenience
  • Enabling safer, more reliable prescribing
  • Helping promote legible, complete documentation and accurate, streamlined coding and billing
  • Enhancing privacy and security of patient data
  • Helping providers improve productivity and work-life balance
  • Enabling providers to improve efficiency and meet their business goals
  • Reducing costs through decreased paperwork, improved safety, reduced duplication of testing, and improved health.