How to Use Your EMR to Build Better Patient Relationships

There’s some old-school thinking floating around out there decrying electronic medical records (EMRs) because they supposedly prohibit clinicians from fully engaging with their patients. We say that’s just poppycock. Sure, lackluster PTs may shirk opportunities for quality face time with their patients in favor of not-so-quality face time with their computer screens, but the great PTs don’t let technology—especially incredibly helpful technology that patients actually want their healthcare practitioners to use—get in the way of developing exceptional relationships. In fact, great therapists use their EMR to build better patient relationships. Here’s how you can do the same:

Get Comfortable With Your EMR

In the words of WebPT Marketplace Director Brian Kunich, DPT, “You can’t pay attention to the patient if you don’t know where the information goes.” However, after you spend some time getting comfortable with your EMR—and understanding what information goes where—using it will become second nature, and you’ll be able to “spend more energy concentrating on the patient than on what or where you’re typing.”

Customize Your EMR

Tailoring your EMR to fit your clinic’s needs will ensure you can document smoother, faster, and with a lot less typing. If your EMR comes with smart text, turn it on and start entering common phrases and goals as presets, so you can cut down on the time you spend retyping the same information over and over again. This will free you up to devote more time to treating—and interacting with—your patients. Additionally, if your EMR allows you to create custom initial evaluation profiles, do it—and use them. That way, if—for example—you’re finding yourself entering the same information into two separate fields, you can remove one of them. And that means you won’t waste time—or energy—tabbing through extraneous fields.

Use the Right Technology

In addition to choosing the right EMR, you should choose the right technology—desktop, laptop, or tablet—on which to document. First, determine which technologies are compatible with your EMR. Then, determine which ones you actually enjoy using in your clinic. If possible, provide multiple technology options to your staff so that everyone always has a choice. After all, when your team members are comfortable using the technology you provide them, it’ll be easier for them to use it in a way that ensures patients are comfortable, too.

Work Your PROMs

According to this Commonwealth Fund article, patient-reported measures (PROMs) “attempt to capture whether the services provided actually improved patients’ health and sense of well-being.” These tools measure the aspects of improvement that matter to patients—including overall health, pain and fatigue levels, ability to complete certain functional tasks, and mood. In the same article, Mary Barton, MD, MPP—who serves as the National Committee for Quality Assurance’s vice president for performance measurement—says, “These are things that matter to patients: Do I feel better? Can my mom go up the stairs after hip surgery?”

In this post, I explained that asking patients questions about how they feel—and then showing that you’re interested in their answers—can enhance the patient-provider relationship. Plus, this type of engagement empowers patients to take an active role in their treatment. So, if your EMR provides integrated outcomes tracking, you can use PROM survey completion and score entry to further engage your patient in his or her care.

Instead of mutely entering patient data into your system—or waiting until the patient leaves to do it—involve the patient in the process by discussing his or her answers as you enter them into the system. You also can use this opportunity to discuss how your patients are progressing towards their goals as a result of your therapeutic intervention. After all, you’ll have the data to back it all up right there at your fingertips.

Change Your Mind

If you think you can’t manage EMR documentation and the patient relationship at the same time, think again. WebPT’s in-house counsel and compliance officer Veda Collmer, OTR, knows first-hand that excellent data collection and patient care are both possible—at the same time. As an attorney, she also knows that failing to produce defensible documentation that accurately and completely describes patient progress and therapist intervention can land even the best practitioners in a world of trouble. As Collmer advises in this post, your documentation “is a legal document,” which is why “it’s so critical that you have the most accurate documentation.” And you can’t do that with a subpar EMR or—worse yet—paper and pen.

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There’s no excuse for poor patient relationships—or documentation, for that matter. These strategies—plus the right physical therapy EMR—will ensure your documentation is defensible and your patients are happy.


How Easy is it to Switch EMRs—Really?

If your current electronic medical record isn’t pulling its weight for your clinic, you may be wishing for a better one. However, switching EMRs isn’t nearly as easy as switching shops for your morning cup of coffee. You’ve invested time and money—in some cases, a lot of both—into your current system, so leaving could be more hassle than it’s worth. But it doesn’t have to be, because if you’re switching to the right EMR for your clinic, your new partner will do everything in its power to make your transition smooth, simple, and—dare we say—easy. Plus, once you’ve experienced the incredible benefits of a top-notch EMR, you’ll wonder why you didn’t make the leap sooner (even if it takes a little work to get there).

So, how easy is it to switch EMRs—really? Well, that depends on both your current EMR and your future one. Here are some things to think about:

The Contract

If you’re under contract with your existing EMR, it’s time to dust off the old paperwork and read the fine print. Before making any decisions, you should know what you’ve already committed to and what penalties you may face for terminating that contract early. When weighing the pros and cons of making a switch, consider this: whatever consequences you may face for leaving, you will most definitely make up in the benefits of finding a system that actually works for your clinic. There aren’t enough fees in the world that should keep you tethered to a software that’s making your life a living you-know-what.

Plus, the best EMRs don’t keep you under contract. They make their products so good that their customers want to keep using them. And if for some reason their system is not the best fit, they’d rather their customers have the freedom to find a partner who is.

The Data

Some EMRs on the market right now—we won’t name names—believe that in order to keep their customers loyal to them, they have to hold said customers’ data hostage. If your current EMR won’t give you back your data, you may have to devote some time to manually transferring your clinic’s information into a format you can upload into your new system. While that may seem somewhat daunting—and will be a bit time-consuming—the alternative is to stay beholden to a company that’s manipulating you. In this case, the data isn’t the only thing being held hostage.

Break free, and switch to a system that safely secures your data on your behalf with absolutely no absurd notions about who retains ownership rights: you do, obviously. That means you can take your data with you anytime you please.

The Learning Curve

When switching to a new EMR, there’s bound to be a learning curve as you and your staff get used to the new system. However, if you choose an easy-to-use and intuitive system, that curve will be anything but steep. You can make it even easier to get up and running on your new EMR if that new system offers in-depth, instructor-led training for your entire staff; an intuitive online training tool that you and your staff can consult whenever you need a refresher on a particular feature or function; and lifetime access to a super-knowledgeable, super-friendly Support team—all at no extra charge.

The Overwhelming Benefits of a Good EMR

Even if the road to your new EMR isn’t bump-free, you’ll be thrilled when you get there, because the best EMRs offer a ton of great benefits, including:

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As the saying goes, nothing worth doing is ever easy. And that certainly applies to changing EMRs. But, with a little planning and forethought, making the switch doesn’t have to be nearly as difficult as you might have thought—and the benefits far outweigh the cost. Switching sounds pretty good right about now, doesn’t it?


7 Ways to Increase Efficiency in Your Private Practice

You’ve surely heard the saying, “Time is money.” And as a physical therapist, you experience it first-hand when you bill for your timed services. But what about your non-billable hours? Are you using that time efficiently? In this Entrepreneur article, author Michael Moroney writes that “employees spend about 31 hours per month in meetings and spend less than 60% of [work] time actually working productively.” According to the infographic Maroney references in his article, the salary cost of unnecessary meetings for US businesses is $37 billion. Talk about inefficiency.

Even if your practice’s stats aren’t quite that shocking, there’s a good chance that you’re spending time on things that aren’t helping your patients, your staff members, or your bottom line. Luckily, you don’t need to overhaul your entire clinic to increase your efficiency—and you certainly don’t need to sacrifice patient care. Instead, try these seven small things to get the most out of every minute:

  1. Create and share processes. Whenever you identify a best practice—whether it be an efficient way to verify patient information or communicate instructions for a particular exercise—document it. Then, educate your staff and—when appropriate—your patients. Additionally, empower your staff members to become experts of their own domains by identifying, documenting, and sharing their own best practices—all in the name of efficiency.
  2. Keep things moving. While we definitely don’t recommend barking orders at your patients or your staff members drill sergeant-style, there may be opportunities to help everyone pick up the pace without rushing. Start paying attention to your patients’ experiences from the minute they walk into your clinic to the minute they leave. Are they spending a lot of time waiting on you or your front desk staff? If so, establish a process (see number one above) that helps speed things along at check-in. And consider prepping your therapy areas before patients arrive, so everything you need is easily accessible and ready to go. You also could enlist the help of an assistant or aide to start patients off with ultrasound, heat therapy, or warm-up exercises.
  3. See things through. As this article’s title points out, “Hand-offs are bad (but unavoidable).” Now, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t delegate tasks when appropriate, but passing around to-dos without cause can lead to mistakes and a lot of wasted time. Unless you have good reason to involve multiple people in a particular task, designate a lead and let that person take the reigns and see it through.
  4. Hold morning standups. Start each day with a super brief team meeting—a standing meeting ensures it won’t drag on—to review the appointment schedule and discuss any questions or concerns. Some potential topics to cover might be patients who require extra time or assistance; cancellations or open appointment slots; or changes to staff schedules. By proactively addressing these items—and others that are pertinent to your clinic—you won’t have have to deal with them in the middle of a busy day when you have a waiting room full of patients.
  5. Build promptness into your culture. If you maintain a lax attitude about timeliness in your clinic, your staff members and patients will do the same—and that can lead to dawdling employees and lots of missed appointments. Instead, lead by example: show everyone you respect your time and theirs by doing your best to stick to the schedule.
  6. Work to your strengths. Everyone has a different working style, so experiment until you find one that enhances your productivity and efficiency—rather than diminishing it. Do you enjoy back-to-back appointments in the early morning; need a two-hour break midday to catch-up on notes; or perform your best work after the sun sets? Consider your personal preferences, and whenever possible, take advantage of the times when you’re in the zone.
  7. Make friends with technology. Using the right PT-specific EMR can drastically improve your clinic’s efficiency. (Choose one that offers integrated billing and outcomes tracking tools, and your clinic will be so efficient you may find yourself with extra time on your hands.) Speaking of extra, if you’ve got some extra money in your budget this year, you also may want to consider investing in an iPad or two so your staff can access patient charts and exercise flowsheets anytime, anywhere. You could even use the tablet to pull up one of these nifty iPad apps to help patients better understand their injuries.

What steps does your clinic take to improve efficiency? Tell us in the comment section below.


Do Cash-Based Practices Need an EMR?

Many therapists are beginning to add cash-based services to their practice offerings—everything from gait analysis and golf fitness programs to aquatic therapy and deep tissue massage. After all, as Brooke Andrus writes in this post, “…in the current environment of declining reimbursements from third-party payers, adding cash-pay options to your practice’s current menu of services isn’t only smart—it might just be necessary to secure your survival.”

For some, offering a few cash-pay wellness services on the side might be enough, but for others, like physical therapist Ann Wendel, it’s cash-based all the way. While this business model certainly alleviates a lot of headaches when it comes to dealing with payer contract negotiations and increasingly stringent payment regulations, operating a cash-based practice isn’t all sunshine and rainbows—which is why even cash-based practices need an excellent EMR. Here are a few of the biggest reasons cash-based practitioners should equip themselves with top-notch EMR system:

Your patients still need insurance reimbursement, even if you don’t.

Sure, you get paid immediately, but many patients who are willing to pay out of pocket for physical therapy services do so because they’re able to submit claims to their health insurance providers and receive reimbursement directly. In this post, Wendel writes, “You may find it shocking, but my documentation and billing practices are not that different from [those of a PT in a traditional practice]. The end goal…is to get paid—it’s just that in my case, it’s the patient who is waiting for reimbursement.”

To ensure your patients are able to continue benefiting from your services, you have to help them get their money back—and that requires the same attention to quality documentation and billing processes you’d need to demonstrate if you were collecting reimbursements for yourself. But you’re not going to get that level of quality with pen and paper—or with a subpar EMR. That’s because only the best EMR solutions feature the alerts and safeguards necessary to ensure you create correct and comprehensive documentation that supports your invoices, gets them paid the first time around, and helps you generate those invoices and track patient payments—all within one streamlined system. And only the right EMR securely stores all that information—along with your patients’ medical records—so you can access it anywhere, anytime while remaining fully HIPAA-compliant. Plus, a physical therapy-specific EMR provides SOAP note formats that fit your workflow, so documentation is a breeze.

An EMR does more than improve documentation.

No matter how you choose to collect payment for your services (i.e., via cash pay or through third-party insurance providers) you still have a practice to run. And there are some practice management benefits that only the right EMR can provide. These include:

Scheduling

An integrated scheduling feature allows you to view and edit schedules for patients, therapists, and treatment rooms. And, because your calendar is connected to your documentation, your patient records and patient appointments are linked—thus enabling you to gain valuable insight from tracking no-shows, cancellations, and lost patients.

Automatic Patient Reminders

Sending your patients automatic appointment reminders via phone, text, or email can help you maximize your office hours and reduce no-shows. Plus, you can track your results directly within the EMR.

Referral Reports

Curious as to which referral sources are generating the most business for you—and which ones might need a bit of extra attention? Use referral reports to identify the marketing efforts that are worth your while.

Information Sharing

Whether it’s with your own staff or other members of a patient’s healthcare team, information sharing is critical to ensuring excellent care at every level. Use your EMR to easily communicate with staff via secure instant messaging and with external providers via secure email and faxing. Plus, with the right EMR, all of your external communication will be legible and branded with your clinic logo (talk about a leg up on the professionalism front).

Outcomes Tracking

An integrated outcomes tracking solution allows users to collect objective data, thus empowering them to prove their value and enhance patient care. With a library of standardized, industry-accepted tests, you can set concrete performance goals and track your team’s progress toward them. That’s great for your patients—and for your bottom line.

Security

HIPAA breaches are incredibly costly and can destroy patient trust, which is critical in a provider-patient relationship. With the right EMR, the burden of keeping PHI safe doesn’t rest solely on your shoulders, because the application is fully HIPAA compliant and stores all your data in a world-class, extremely well-guarded data center. Now, that’s a whole lot better than keeping it in a filing cabinet in your clinic—fireproof lock or not.

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In case you’re wondering, Wendel uses WebPT, because she likes the portability of a web-based application, the fact that she doesn’t need to store paper charts in her basement for seven years, and the professional quality of the notes she’s able to securely send to physicians and other healthcare professionals on her patients’ care teams.

Want to learn more about the best EMR for cash-based practices? Schedule your complimentary demo of WebPT today.


What’s the Best Software for Physical Therapists?

There are plenty of software systems for physical therapists on the market today, but you wouldn’t want to waste your time on anything but the best—especially if the best is super affordable with no long-term contracts and a ton of fantastic features, right?

Here’s what you should be looking for in the very best software for physical therapists:

One with an Intelligent ICD-10 Tool

Your EMR doesn’t need to make your breakfast à la Rosie from The Jetsons, but it does need to help you stay ICD-10 compliant. Make sure yours does the following, at the very least:

  • Prompts you to document the specific details of every patient’s injury or issue
  • Suggests a more specific code when one with a greater level of specificity exists
  • Alerts you when you’ve selected an invalid code or one that’s not billable
  • Maintains a complete library of ICD-9 and ICD-10 codes (some payers, like auto and workers compensation companies, can still use ICD-9)
  • Provides free ICD-10 training, support, and resources
  • Bases its ICD-10 code library on more than just general equivalence mappings (GEMs)

Beware of any EMR that claims to have an automatic one-to-one crosswalking tool that translates ICD-9 codes into ICD-10. According to this ICDLogic whitepaper, ICD-9 and ICD-10 “differ so widely that all attempts at translation offer only a series of compromises and subjective choices. This is necessarily so because there is no ‘mirror image’ of one code set in the other.” In other words, beware: they aren’t a magical solution and can end up costing you a lot of problems (read: claim denials) in the long run. Instead, go with a software that helps you streamline your ICD-10 coding by using detailed, defensible electronic documentation as the foundation for code selection.

One that’s a Certified PQRS Registry

Physical therapists have the option to report PQRS via paper, but why would you? Medicare has made clear that it intends to move toward electronic reporting for all future regulations. (That’s why, over the last few years, CMS has been strategically removing claims-based reporting eligibility for certain PQRS measures, encouraging providers to go the registry-based route.)

But even if claims-based reporting was here to stay—which it isn’t—there are plenty of other reasons why the best software for physical therapists also is a certified PQRS registry.

Here are some of the benefits of registry-based reporting:

  • All you need to do is choose your measures and document. The right software manages the rest (read: collects your reporting data and submits it directly to CMS).
  • You won’t ever have to complete a paper PQRS form for an applicable note again. With a certified PQRS registry, the measures on which you choose to report are built right into your documentation.
  • You get automatic checks and balances, because the registry will alert you if you’re not properly reporting.
  • The available measures are always up to date based on the most recent final rule.

One with Built-In Outcomes Tracking

We’re in a pay-for-performance healthcare environment, so it’s crucial for therapists to have the tools necessary to demonstrate their value. That’s why the best software for physical therapists has built-in outcomes tracking, complete with a library of evidence-based, risk-adjusted tests—as well as integrated patient surveys and comprehensive reports—that are already familiar to, and respected within, the healthcare community at large. With access to these tools, you’ll be able to objectively demonstrate your clinical performance to insurance providers, patients, and referrers.

Here are some of the outcome measurement tools your software should include:

  • Quick DASH
  • Lower Extremity Functional Scale (LEFS)
  • Oswestry
  • Neck Disability Index
  • Dizziness Handicap Inventory

One that’s Web-Based

You’re busy treating your patients and running a practice, which means your software systems need to be available whenever you are, wherever you are. That’s why the best software for physical therapists is web-based, so you can access—and document—your patient records, schedules, and reports from any device with an Internet connection.

Plus, your data is secure, because each therapist, PTA, front-office staff member, and administrator has a unique ID and password. This way, clinic owners can control everyone’s access to patients’ protected health information. And all of that data is housed in gold-star data security centers like IO in Phoenix, which boasts a defensible perimeter, digital video surveillance, biometric screening, and round-the-clock armed guards—so there’s almost no threat of a physical or digital breach impacting your data.

Finally, the best web-based software is always up to date with the latest technology and compliance regulations, because it can make upgrades and amendments fast—like, as fast as Medicare changes its reporting regulations. Speaking of updates, the best software for physical therapists provides updates:

  1. automatically,
  2. at no charge to you, and
  3. with as little downtime as possible.

To learn how much downtime is the right amount, check out this article.

One that’s Designed for PTs

You’re a physical therapist—not a physician, not an opthamologist, and not an oral surgeon. And that’s an important distinction, because your software solution should be tailored to you and your workflow—not theirs. The best software for physical therapists comes complete with a host of other features that make it easy for users to succeed in business, including:

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If you’re thinking there’s simply no way that one software solution offers all of this, think again: WebPT has it all and more. Schedule your complimentary demo today to see for yourself.


4 Reasons Your EMR is Bad for Business

Your clinic already has an EMR, but it’s less than ideal. In fact, you frequently wonder whether it might bring you more satisfaction if you threw the whole computer off the roof of your building. But don’t despair. There are actually good ones out there. Here are four reasons why your current EMR is bad for business and it’s time to make a switch:

1. It’s designed for physicians.

While they share a doctoral title and a love for caring for people, physical therapists and physicians certainly don’t share the same documentation needs. If your EMR is designed for an MD instead of a PT, you’re probably having a heck of a time developing Band-Aid fixes and workarounds to ensure you can complete your documentation compliantly and thus, get paid. So ditch that bad-for-business EMR and switch to one that’s designed for therapists. After all, you want an EMR that’s tailored to your needs. Just think: functional limitation reporting, 8-minute rule monitoring, and therapy cap tracking all built right in. Plus, you’ll have a system that follows your workflow, which’ll save you oodles of time.

2. It’s server-based.

If your EMR is running on a server, you’re shelling out way more money and time than you should be. Not only do you have to worry about securing your patients’ protected health information (PHI), but you’re also responsible for updating the system to ensure you have the latest compliance features—if your server-based EMR vendor upgrades its technology at all. Who’s got time for that? Toss your server-based EMR in the trash heap and adopt a web-based one instead. You’ll be able to securely access your documentation anywhere you have an Internet connection. And because most web-based EMR vendors store all their data with top-tier security firms, you can be sure your patients’ PHI is safe. As if that weren’t enough, you’ll also gain the benefit of never having to perform a manual upgrade again. Instead, your EMR vendor will automatically update the system for you, so you’ll always have the latest technological advancements and relevant compliance features at your fingertips.

3. It costs an arm and a leg—and a chart.

Your EMR should increase your cash flow, not deplete it. So if you’re using a system that charges you per chart or per visit, where’s your incentive to grow? The more patients you add, the more you’re paying your software vendor. That doesn’t sound right. Good thing there’s another payment model available. Move to an EMR that offers you a monthly, membership-style payment structure so your technology can grow with you, not cap your growth. Plus, look for a solution that doesn’t lock you into long-term contracts or hold your data hostage. That way, you’ll never again feel stuck with an EMR that’s bad for business.

4. It doesn’t include free training and support.

If you’re paying extra for support and training—or worse yet, there’s no one available to answer your calls—your EMR is definitely bad for business. Sure, your system should be intuitive and easy to use, but good training should be a given and support should always be available just in case you need it. The last thing you want is to have an urgent question and either not be able to reach someone or have to shell out your hard-earned dollars just so you can get back to work. Instead, opt for an EMR vendor that prides itself on providing exceptional customer support and training—for free.


If any of the above rings true about your current EMR, then there’s no denying it: your system is bad for business. Replace it with a better option—namely,
WebPT. For more information on how WebPT blows your current EMR out of the water, schedule a free demo today.


Imagine a PT-Designed EMR

Israel Green-Hopkins, MD, recently wrote a pretty interesting article for KevinMD about an imaginary physician-designed electronic medical record (EMR). He begins by saying that the thought alone “should make us all cringe,” because a clinician-designed product “is doomed [to be] limited [in] scope and lack…forward-thinking trajectory. Yet, the concept of integrating and considering the physician point of view and workflow is critical to successful EMR functionality.” While we definitely don’t agree with his first point—that a physician-designed EMR should make us cringe—we do think there is a lot to be said for a clinician-technologist partnership in the creation of a technological tool for clinicians. It just makes sense: two heads—with two specific, perfectly relevant skill sets—are most definitely better than one. And this is true for any specialty-specific technological tool. For our purposes, let’s consider the benefits of a physical therapy EMR (hopefully, imagining a PT-designed system doesn’t make you cringe, because it makes us practically giddy):

Specialty-Specific Workflow

Green-Hopkins writes: “Healthcare is a rapidly changing field and applying a blanket EMR structure to its core function seems impractical at times. Kenneth Mandl, MD, MPH, and Isaac Kohane, MD, described the paradox well in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2012 when they stated that the challenge is fitting EMRs into a ‘dynamic, state-of-the-art, rapidly evolving information infrastructure.’” All of this supports the need for niche, specialty-specific—one day, interoperable—technological tools tailored to meet the needs of each practicing professional. And who knows your needs better than one of your own? No one. And who can bring technology to life to address them? An expert software developer. (It’s a pretty powerful team.) If your EMR fits you like a glove, you won’t have to worry about developing Band-Aid fixes and workarounds. Instead, you can spend your valuable time improving relationships with your patients, building your business, or enjoying your family.

Relevant Compliance Updates

There’s a lot going on in health care right now—ICD-10, the Affordable Care Act, functional limitation reporting, meaningful use, and PQRS, just to name a few. Don’t you want the person (people) who designed your EMR to know which documentation and compliance regulations apply to you—and which don’t? With a PT at the helm of your software solution, you can be sure you’ll have the best—and most relevant—tools and features before you need them. Take functional limitation reporting, for example: only PTs, OTs, and SLPs must complete this type of reporting, so a generalist EMR most likely won’t take the regulation into account. A physical therapy-specific EMR, on the other hand, focuses on the exact regulations and requirements impacting the PT community—which do not include meaningful use—so its users can properly report functional limitations and get paid.

Better Education and Support

Not only does a PT-designed EMR offer the best software for practicing physical therapists; it also offers the best in education and support. Think about it: If your EMR doesn’t come with the expertise of a real-life PT, neither will your support team, your training team, or your content team. And that’s a pretty important piece of the puzzle.

Sure, you want an amazing EMR. As Green-Hopkins points out, “In its simplest form, the EMR is a communication tool. Clinicians from every discipline and at every level use it to communicate with the patient record and, in many cases, with each other.” And this communication is critical because breakdowns can often lead to potentially dangerous medical mistakes. But in order get the most out of your application, you’ve got to know how to use it.  And in order to succeed in your field, you’ve got to know what’s happening in your industry. What better way to achieve all of the above than to choose a 360-degree PT solution led by a PT?

What do you think about a PT-designed EMR? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below.


Three Things Your Boss Wants to Know About EMR

So, you’ve been bitten by the EMR bug. We don’t blame you. There are so many ways an EMR will make your  work life easier; it’s a wonder it didn’t happen sooner. If you’re not the decision-maker (read: money-spender) in your clinic, though, you might have some convincing to do. But tell your boss the things he or she wants to hear about EMR—all true, of course—and you’ll be well on your way to ditching the pen and paper in favor of some sweet, time-saving technology.

1. It solves a specific problem.

You and I both know that the right EMR (cough, WebPT) has a plethora of amazing benefits—everything from intuitive initial evaluations specifically designed to meet the needs of rehab therapists to seamlessly integrated Medicare compliance alerts, reporting, and tracking. But no one wants to hear them all in one sitting. Unless, of course, they’re having trouble sleeping. Instead, identify your boss’s pain points and tailor your pitch to address those specific issues.

For example, perhaps your boss is concerned that missed appointments are negatively impacting your clinic’s bottom line, but your front office staff just doesn’t have the time or the manpower to call every patient and confirm every appointment. You could point out that an EMR offers automatic appointment reminders (via phone, email, or text), which reduce no-shows and cancellations by as much as 30%. Or maybe your clinic director feels like the practice is missing out on valuable referral opportunities but he or she is maxed out on networking. You could mention the built-in referral tracking report, which provides intel your boss can use to network more effectively by targeting providers who need the most extra attention.

Whatever the case may be, you’ll be presenting a real solution to a real problem (or several) instead of just an amorphous, disconnected—albeit well-intentioned—idea. This is sure to get you some serious buy-in.

2. It’s a leg-up on the competition.

According to Xerox Healthcare, 80% of primary physicians in the US are using an EMR. And although physical, occupational, and speech therapists aren’t required to make the transition in order to receive Medicare reimbursements, anyone who interacts with doctors or hospitals should be on the same page with them, documentation-wise. It demonstrates a level of professionalism that, according to the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), referring physicians are coming to expect. And they’re not the only ones. Accenture recently reported that 41% of consumers are willing to switch doctors to gain online access to EMR. For more on why scribbled notes (handwritten documentation) just aren’t going to cut it anymore, check out Heidi Jannenga’s Physiospot article here.

3. It’s worth it.

We’ve all heard a horror story or two about a practice spending tens of thousands of dollars to implement an electronic medical record only to discover that it actually doesn’t meet their needs; and by that point, there’s nothing they can do to fix it. But that doesn’t have to be your experience. In fact, it won’t be—as long as you do your due diligence and choose a cloud-based, therapy-centric EMR (specifically, one with no contracts, no upfront capital investments, and no long-term service or maintenance expenses). Adopting an EMR doesn’t have to be as difficult as some people—or some vendors—make it out to be. In fact, the decision should be easy because the right EMR will pay for itself several times over.

What do you think your boss wants to know about EMR? Tell us in the comments section. We’d be happy to help you develop a custom pitch sure to knock his or her socks off—for which you’ll get all the credit.


5 Ways to Improve Patient Compliance in Your Clinic

Everything you do, you do for your patients—to help them lead healthier, happier, more pain-free lives. So, I can only imagine how frustrating it must be when a patient misses an appointment, skips home exercises, or in some other way fails to comply with your well-meaning requests. You are, after all, a doctor—a musculoskeletal expert who wants nothing more than to see your patients recover. If begging and pleading has gotten you nowhere, here are five things you can do to improve patient compliance in your clinic:

1. Communicate Clearly

Let’s start by giving patients the benefit of the doubt. After all, most of them genuinely want to get better, too. So, maybe they just misunderstood what you were saying. In this article, Heidi Dawson, a sports injury therapist in the UK, writes that she often sees patients who have already sought treatment elsewhere but still don’t understand the clinical nature of their injury or the previous therapists’ goals for their treatment. When they come to her, Dawson explains the problem and the cause of their pain in “a way they can understand, avoiding overly complex details or confusing Latin or scientific names.” Dawson also uses “images, models, or physical demonstrations to help make [her] point.” According to Dawson, “Clients appreciate this and like to know what is hurting and why it is hurting. If they understand at least the basics of their injury, they are more inclined to adhere to a rehab program as they can see why they are doing it.”

2. Focus on the Positives

To borrow a phrase from WebPT writer Brooke Andrus, there are no Negative Nancies or Pessimistic Peters allowed in therapy—and that goes for you, too. After all, positivity is contagious, so start smiling and focusing on even the tiniest improvements in your patients health and wellbeing. That way, he or she will be more likely to keep up the good work and not get discouraged by hitting a healing plateau. Dawson writes, “Reassurance, positivity, and praise…can make all the difference and help encourage patients to continue with their efforts.”

3. Send Automatic Appointment Reminders

In our increasingly busy lives, it’s becoming more and more challenging to remember things like where we put our car keys or our sunglasses. But we rarely forget our phones. Take advantage of this umbilical-cord-like attachment and implement automatic appointment reminders for your clinic. A few days before your patient’s next treatment session, he or she will receive a custom reminder message from you via phone call, email, or text with the date and time of the appointment. Sounds simple, but it could help you reduce no-shows by up to 30%.

4. Use A Multimedia Home Exercise Program

Just as I said above, clear communication is key. And that’s especially true for home exercise programs. One of the main reasons patients report not completing their home exercises is that they’re not confident in their understanding of the exercises or how to execute proper form. As Dawson writes, “Clients forgetting to do exercises or how to perform them correctly is a big problem for therapists and can seriously hinder progress.” While she recommends providing patients with “exercise handouts” to facilitate their learning, we recommend going several steps further and providing patients with an emailable multimedia home exercise program that includes pictures, videos, and step-by-step instructions. This way, regardless of your patient’s learning style, he or she will be able to follow along.

In addition to providing patients with the right tools to complete their home exercises, Dawson also recommends keeping the exercise list short and to the point: “Keep the exercises to a minimum. It’s better that they perform only two or three key exercises that they can fit into their day, than not performing a long list of exercises.” Additionally, she suggests linking the exercises to an every-day ritual to help patients remember. For example, “standing stretches or calf raises can be performed while cleaning their teeth, washing up or waiting for the bus.”

5. Get a Verbal or Written Commitment

Taking a page from Dr. Robert Cialdini’s research on the psychology of persuasion (Influence, Principle #3 Commitment and Consistency), people are more likely to follow through when they’ve made a verbal or written commitment. You see, people want “to be and look consistent within their words, beliefs, attitudes, and deeds.” Not only is this positively reinforced within our society, but also inconsistencies lead to all sorts of cognitive dissonance and antagonizing internal questions, like: “Am I a flake?” “Am I irresponsible?” or “Am I a liar?” And no one wants to think of themselves like that.

The trick for upping compliance, though, is to start out small and build. Don’t ask your patients to commit to doing every single prescribed exercise every day for the next month—that’s simply too big a bite. Instead, start by asking them to complete their homework for the time leading up to their next session. Then, do the same thing at the next session—and so on and so forth. This should work especially well in a group therapy setting, when the patient makes the commitment—and demonstrates follow-through—in public. According to Cialdini, “Commitments are most effective when they are active, public, effortful, and viewed as internally motivated (uncoerced).”

What have you done to increase patient compliance in your clinic? What worked and what didn’t? Tell us in the comment section below.


What Twitter Can Teach You About EMR

By now you probably know that Twitter is great for communicating with potential customers and creating a public voice for your practice, but did you know that you also can use this social media platform as a real-time news source and learning tool? You can search using hashtags or relevant keywords to pull up all sorts of wonderful information—everything from 140-character op-eds and inspirational stories to advice from the experts and links to the biggest news sources around the world. So what can Twitter teach you about electronic medical record (EMR) systems? Let’s find out.

Adoption statistics:

Benefits:

New news sources:

The future of EMR:

What patients want:

Advice for finding the right vendor:

EMR on an international scale:

Challenges with generalist solutions:

Wondering what else Twitter can teach you? Try using one of these eight top trending healthcare hashtags (according to Leading Reach):

  1. #mhealth (mobile health)
  2. #HITsm (health information technology social media)
  3. #HealthIT (health information technology)
  4. #hcsm (healthcare social media)
  5. #patientengagement
  6. #digitalhealth
  7. #EMR (electronic medical record)
  8. #EHR (electronic health record)