The key is not to reduce information, but to manage it. Medical office staff need to be able to keep all the information together and in a format that permits easy access, viewing, and use. The most important will accomplish the following tasks.
Sometimes the simplest things have a major impact on diagnoses and treatments. Good software needs to keep all data intact and available, with provisions for quickly accessing pertinent data.
There are many ways that improve medical care. Perhaps the most important is the avoidance dangerous omissions or errors. Drug interactions, previous medical history, and allergies must all be carefully tracked to ensure that problematic steps are not taken.
This is much of the impetus for the electronic requirements of the Affordable Care Act. By expanding on the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the ACA sought to further reduce medical errors. These errors lead to injuries and deaths, causing malpractice suits that increase practitioners’ premiums. The higher premiums must be covered by higher charges for services. Preventing errors can dramatically reduce growth in health care costs.
Getting It Together
Moving lab work results to a place where they can join radiology reports and practitioner input used to be a major chore. With electronic systems, everything is cleanly assimilated on the spot.
As managers consider which software to use, an eye must always be on the process by which it sends and receives these data. How is information stored? How is it accessed? Are encryption systems up to date and effective? Is it easy to move from one section of the data to another?
Medical software creates a virtual staff meeting for everyone involved in patient care, and it does so instantly from any pertinent location. Conducting this process efficiently is critical to efficient use.
Perhaps most overlooked in conversations about medical records is the need to make them portable. Traditionally we thought of patients taking large manila folders from their general practitioner to a specialist when needed, or of thick envelopes traveling through the mail to the other doctor.
Now those facts and figures are exchanged electronically, with no risk of damaged or omitted data. The digital format eliminates penmanship problems, copier smudges, and damage from the inevitable spilled coffee on the desktop. Everything reaches the specialist intact and complete, ready to help with an accurate course of treatment. Invest in a system that is proven effective with this task.
There is an overwhelming and persistent load of work for medical practitioners and their staffs. This creates a greater need for software to manage patient information but also distracts from the process of carefully choosing the platform. Effective office operation requires that this decision be carefully examined to avoid problems down the road.