older doctor w: book & computer (123RF)

by Ryan Howard, CEO of Practice Fusion

You’ve been using computers since the Commodore 64 days, why is your doctor – the guy who went to school for 7 years – still on paper charts and post-it notes? Doctors who use electronic health record (EHR) systems make fewer mistakes, collaborate better with other providers, email you appointment reminders and can actually share records with you.  Here are five tips for joining healthcare’s tech revolution:

1. Talk tech with your doctor. Turn the table in the exam room and ask your physician about their EHR use. Odds are, they’re working on the switch right now. New affordable, lightweight systems like Practice Fusion mean they don’t have to shell out $50,000 for software. And big economic [US government] stimulus incentives are lighting a fire under all that paper.

2. Offer to be a beta patient. Volunteer to have your next appointment when the doctor is testing out a system. It might take a little longer for the doc to document your visit – but you’ll save time when your prescription goes straight to the pharmacy with a click of a button.

3. Become an e-patient. Lead by example. Track your health stats with mobile apps, sign up for a Personal Health Record. You might lure your doctor toward cool technology and improve your own health at the same time.

4. Change doctors. If your doctor doesn’t use an EHR, don’t use your doctor. The stats are there saying your safer and better treated when your doctor is on a computer.  When looking for a new provider ask about electronic records before you make an appointment

5. Go with Kaiser or the VA. The two large health networks are health IT leaders. 100% of Kaiser providers use EHR systems and they even let you email with your doctor from home.


Editor note: I am a Kaiser patient.  When I visit my PCP, she pulls up her computer (mounted on something that looks like an IV pole). Together, we look at my data – meds, medical history, current issues.  She updates it in front of me. We have more time to talk. When we are nearing the end of our time together, she orders med refills, tests, referrals right on the spot. And then, get this, I get to access her note about the visit on the KP patient portal. Can you believe that?

I agree with Ryan. It is 2010. We would not tolerate going back to the days of hand-written airline tickets, hotels that don’t already know our preferences, buying almost anything that requires a trip to the store when we could but it quicker and easier online. So why do we tolerate a medical practice that isn’t computerized? Notes that are handwritten. Prescriptions that we have to carry to the pharmacy? With free EMRs, accessible on the internet, there really isn’t an excuse for sticking with paper.  Pat Salber

Patricia Salber MD, MBA (@docweighsin)
Patricia Salber, MD, MBA is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of The Doctor Weighs In. She is also a physician executive who has worked in all aspects of healthcare including practicing emergency physician, health plan executive, consultant to employers, CMS, and other organizations. She is a Board Certified Internist and Emergency Physician who loves to write about just about anything that has to do with healthcare.

5 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks for the informative post!!

    The relationship between doctor and patient as evolved over years and patient seek an interactive care. Besides technology is bridging the gap between care providers and care receivers and thus this is an ideal time for single care practitioners and multi -specialty hospitals to embrace the health IT tool for the betterment of tomorrow. DocEngage is one such software developed to meet the finer requirements of healthcare.

    Thanks & Regards,
    Rahulkapoor

  2. Great article, Ryan. It is a great mystery why some are so eager to adopt computers, software, and mobile devices to help manage their personal lives, yet seem to fight the momentum to utilize that same technology in their practices.

    I’ve heard reasons including a lack of trust for support, high cost of implementation, and issues with dependency on technology. However, I truly believe it is a reluctancy to do business in a different way. We have to encourage providers that technology can add value to their practice and the care that their patients are receiving.

  3. Okay. I’m learning to love Practice Fusion. But can you please get up to speed on the Schedule 4 prescriptions? And also…what is with the period at the end of every phrase? Thanks!

    It is still much slower than paper charts, but I am holding out hope…

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