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Nov/Dec 2013

Sidebar: A Technician’s Perspective: How We Made EHRs Work for Us

I am a certified ophthalmic medical technologist in a large practice with 19 ophthalmic technicians and six ophthalmologists. My role in ensuring the successful implementation and subsequent use of an electronic health record (EHR) system lies in knowing how to use it properly and efficiently. Our practice gradually implemented the EHR system by only introducing two doctors at a time for 90 days each. We repeated the 90-day rotation three times until all doctors were using the system. As a result, the transition neither overwhelmed nor crippled our productivity during the time of transition. We began by adding patients to the EHR system ahead of their appointments. Now, adding patients has become second nature to the technicians, and we are able to enter patients' data when they present for their appointments, because the system is intuitive and easy to use.

We trained for the EHR system in small groups, because each doctor has his or her own technician and counselor. In these small training sessions, we spent a significant amount of time browsing through the system and learning how to use it with real patients' charts, so our training was hands on. One of the major benefits of implementing an EHR system is that the patients' charts are easy to read, because we do not have to try to decipher handwriting. We also know who logged on and performed different tasks and workups. Most importantly, we are now more easily able to remain compliant with government regulations for record keeping, because EHRs ensure that we collect the necessary information for each examination to support charges. As technicians, we also never have to worry about finding a misplaced chart. In the past, we sometimes spent 30 minutes looking for a chart that we needed prior to surgery.

Using EHRs has been smooth in our office so far and should only get better with time. We hope eventually to incorporate iPads (Apple, Inc.) for the doctors to use so that they can pull up the chart prior to entering the examination room to learn the patient's background. We also plan to incorporate the electronic signature option to avoid having to print and scan signed consent forms.

Our user-friendly EHR system has increased technicians' productivity, because we are able to complete our daily tasks in a more efficient manner and assist doctors to the best of our abilities.

Linda Hollars is a certified ophthalmic medical technologist at the Eye Clinic, PC, in Jackson, Tennessee. She acknowledged no financial interest in the product or company mentioned herein. Ms. Hollars may be reached at lhollars@eyeclinicpc.com.

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