Sunday, November 01, 2009

Ten reasons why you should use a computer in your practice

This is a guest entry from Aditya Patkar, Marketing Director of Plus91. Plus91 produces inexpensive EMR and practise management solutions for doctors in India.

As a doctor, you routinely have to capture a large amount of information about your patient in order to provide good medical care ( and to collect your fees ) . Medicine is a pen and paper intensive domain, where clinical history, examination findings, lab reports, scans, appointments , messages and bills - all happen on paper. What is the downside to all this paper work ? After all, you’ve been doing it for donkey’s years and are happy with this , so why bother to change ? The truth is that managing paper is always hard to do . Papers get lost, stolen, misplaced - and writing can be hard work ! IT can help you manage your paperwork much more efficiently !


Have you ever lost your temper because your patient has lost his medical records, and does not know what medications he is taking ? Are you fed up of having to write the same prescription again and again ? Aren’t you impressed by other doctors who give their patients crisp, professional word-processed medical summary sheets ? How are you going to compete with corporate hospitals who can access their patient’s medical records at the click of a button ? The good news is that the same technology is now easily and inexpensively available for you to use in your own clinic ! IT can help you improve your documentation and storage ; and actually increase your productivity and efficiency, by allowing you easy access instantly to all your patient’s medical records, no matter where you are !

Here are the top 10 reasons why you should use a computer in your practice !

1. Impress your patients by having all their information available at your finger tips. Your patient expects you to remember exactly what medicines you prescribed and what surgery you did when she comes to see you, no matter how busy you are. Unfortunately, many of us cannot even remember the patient’s name, forget about the medical details ! Having an EMR with the patient’s photo and clinical details means you are well-prepared to talk to your patient ! If you cannot do so because you cannot find the patient’s medical record, you are going to lose the patient’s confidence – and the patient as well ! If you store all this information on the PC, you can find it immediately, and this helps immensely in creating lifelong patient loyalty !

2. Impress your colleages and consultants : Communication is becoming the cornerstone of society today . Once you have all your patient records stored digitally, you can share them with your colleagues. The referring doctor or consultant will be very impressed when he gets an SMS and an email automatically from you, when you see his patient ! This will help you stand out from the rest of the crowd !

3. Save time: You can retrieve stored data much faster on your PC then from a filing cabinet. Why waste time and money hunting for records, when you can instantly find what you need on your PC !

4. Save on storage space. Real estate costs money while digital space is cheap ! You can store thousands of medical records on a hard disk – and as your practice grows, you need to think about the future.

5. Reduce chaos: A large clinic is often drowning in paper – and it’s very frustrating when you cannot find the record you need. With an electronic medical record, there’s no clutter – and much more work gets done efficiently when time is not being wasted in finding lab reports and scans.

6. Increase productivity: A faster records access, storage and retrieval system gives you and your staff more time. It increases efficiency , allowing you to spend more time with your patients. As patients are wowed by how efficient you can access their medical history, they will refer even more patients to you !

7. Improve your clinical skills and practice evidence based medicine: Even though Indian doctors are very busy, our research output is pathetic, because we do not bother to keep medical records properly. Documentation is poor, and most of a senior doctor’s wisdom is primarily anecdotal, since it is not based on a stringent analysis of stored clinical data. For example, most orthopedic surgeons don’t even know the exact number of hip replacements they have done ; or which type of artificial hip works best in their hands. They cannot analyse their complication rate reliably, and depend primarily on their selective clinical memory, which is often deeply flawed ! Digital information allows you to do much more with the patient data you have. You can easily analyse your clinical data and produce informative research reports based on your years of clinical experience. Analysing paper records is a painful chore. Why work so hard when your PC can do the work for you in seconds ?

8. Look cool: A computerized clinic which runs state of the art software creates a lot of confidence in your patients. They will be much more faithful to you, because they know you are well-organised , effective and efficient !

9.Improve your business processes by automating administrative tasks. Because all the data is stored electronically, it’s much easier for you to fill in all the forms and papers everyone else needs – your CA; the IT officer; the TPAs and insurance companies !

10. Empowering patients. Because you now have a state of the art digital office, you can communicate electronically with your patients. You can send them alerts and reminders through SMSes and emails – and this can create a Wow ! experience which will help you to leap ahead of the competition.

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