Have you ever worn one-size-fits-all clothing? If not, let me give you a word of advice: it’s not actually made to fit everyone. If you wear it, you’ll likely spend half your day tugging, twisting, and jerry-rigging your outfit so it works for your body. Sounds pretty annoying, right? Now imagine applying that same one-size-fits-all approach to EMR software. As a 2010 UC Davis study discovered, implementing that kind of technology could spell disaster for your practice.
This four-year study focused on roughly 100 physicians—specializing in either internal medicine, pediatrics, or family practice—from six primary care offices, all of which were part of a large primary care physician network affiliated with an academic medical center. These offices had implemented a multimillion-dollar information technology system that “digitized patient records and allowed for electronic prescriptions and messaging.” The three researchers collected data on work hours and output levels from before and after implementation to analyze the impact the EMR had on productivity.
The research findings suggest that the one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work. After an initial—and expected—drop in productivity post-implementation, researchers found that the internal medicine physicians and their staff were able to adjust to the new technology. And once they did, they rebounded to a slightly higher level of productivity. However, the pediatric and family practices involved in the study never returned to their original productivity levels.
Why? According to Heman Bhargava, associate dean and professor of management and computer science at the UC Davis Graduate School of Management, this kind of software can’t accommodate the needs of every practitioner. In fact, there’s a “‘mismatch between technology design and the work-flow requirements and health administration expectations for individual care units.’” Bhargava affirms that “‘the ideal technology design should vary by physicians’ requirements and work-flow demands.’”
Would you settle for a shirt made to fit what an industry has deemed “average” in size and shape? Certainly not. (And who wants to be considered average, anyhow?) So why would you settle for an EMR that isn’t tailored to your physical therapy practice? A therapy-specific EMR is designed to mimic the workflow of your clinic, meaning the documentation, scheduling, practice management, billing, and compliance features are built for the way you work. And that allows you to document efficiently, maintain full HIPAA compliance, decrease patient no-shows, save time and hard-earned dollars, and grow your business.
One-size-fits-all software can’t offer the kind of specialization your industry requires, and spending precious time adjusting a non-therapy specific software to fit your clinic’s unique workflows and documentation needs isn’t simply a mild irritation; it’s a serious problem that affects your clinic’s overall productivity—and, ultimately, your bottom line. You chose to specialize in physical therapy; you deserve to work with a software company that chose to specialize in PT, too. Still not sure what the big deal is? See for yourself.