If you’re considering implementing an electronic medical record (EMR) in your rehab therapy practice, you’ve probably already gotten the skinny on the numerous ways an EMR will benefit you and your business: reduced errors, maximized reimbursements, simplified Medicare and HIPAA compliance, improved efficiency—the list goes on. But as a therapist, your ultimate goal—the reason you got into this profession—is to help people. What you might not realize, though, is that an EMR can actually enhance the quality of care you provide to your patients. Read on to find out how.
1. It’s a time-saver.
Even if you have the slickest filing system in the world—color-coded tabs, anyone?—it will never compare to the efficiency and convenience of an EMR. If you tracked the amount of time you devote to retrieving and replacing paper records each day, you’d probably be shocked. And as a rehab therapist, you know better than anyone that when it comes to treating patients, every minute is valuable. With an EMR, you’ll stop wasting those precious minutes searching for patient charts—and squinting at barely legible notes—which leaves more time for you to provide excellent patient care. And speaking of charts, a good EMR—more specifically, a cloud-based one—allows you the flexibility to document virtually anywhere, anytime, from any web-enabled device, which frees up even more patient one-on-one time because you’ll be able to complete your notes whenever it is most convenient for you.
2. It allows you to see the whole picture.
You wouldn’t write a book review after reading only the first chapter, and you shouldn’t make any decisions about a patient’s plan of care without considering his or her entire story. A complete, well maintained record is integral to the development of an effective plan of care because it allows therapists to look at the whole picture before designating any course of action. EMRs are all about organization, which makes it super easy to review a patient’s history before moving forward with his or her treatment. Furthermore, EMRs promote improved information exchange among providers, which allows for better coordination of care and helps propel the healthcare industry toward a state of complete interoperability.
3. It boosts patient buy-in and compliance.
With tools like automatic appointment reminders and an integrated home exercise program, you’ll significantly improve your clinic’s rate of patient compliance. These features increase the chances that your patients will show up not only on time, but also prepared to progress with their treatment. And while a cluttered, inefficient clinic might give patients a bad impression of you as a competent medical professional—and thus cause them to question the quality of care they are receiving—a smooth-running operation creates positive vibes that will stay with them long after they walk out the door. This not only keeps patients coming back, but also makes them more likely to follow through with the plan you have prescribed to them.
4. It ensures patient privacy.
Protected health information (PHI) laws aren’t getting any softer—in fact, the recent HIPAA Omnibus ruling introduced even harsher penalties for PHI breaches—which makes information security a top priority for you and your practice. And in an age when identity theft and fraud are very real concerns for most people, your patients will take comfort in knowing that their information is safe. While ensuring the security of paper records is difficult, most EMRs—the good ones, anyway—feature bank-level security systems with multiple layers of access control. Sure sounds better than the locked filing cabinet in your office, right? Plus, with the burden of potential PHI breach off your shoulders, you’ll be better able to focus on what really matters: your patients.
So, if bottom-line benefits like increased revenue and efficiency aren’t enough to woo you into the arms of EMR, remember that your patients have a lot to gain from your transition as well. And at the end of the day, providing exemplary patient care is what it’s all about. Isn’t it time to elevate your practice?