Case Study | Richard Miller, O.D.
Busy Optometry Office Experiences Smooth Transition to EHR Software with Practice DirectorSince opening his practice in 1993, Dr. Richard Miller has experienced growth from a small 750 square foot office with 1.5 employees to a 3600 square foot freestanding building with 10 employees. Prior to switching to Practice Director, Dr. Miller’s team was seeing about 18 patients per day, with technicians acting as both scribes and opticians, working with the patient through their entire visit. By assigning individual staff members the responsibility of caring for the patient throughout the entire visit, Dr. Miller simplified the hand-off process to the optical and helped to ensure that the patient was following his recommendations.
The Challenge: Staff Adopting a New SystemDr. Miller knew he needed to switch to a software system with an EHR but had some concerns. “Our primary concern was to make sure that all staff members were fully committed to the change in practice software. I had heard the horror stories of staff revolts after switching to programs that were difficult to use or practices that were not fully prepared and trained for the EHR switch.
The Decision: Finding a Software that Suited His Practice NeedsWe were a longtime user of another Mac-based program (GOAL). My staff loved the program and was very comfortable using all of its features. When it became evident that GOAL would never implement EHR, we began our search for a new program. I wanted a program that allowed us to keep our Macs, and some of the programs that we shopped met that requirement. After going through several demos, using sandboxes and talking with company representatives, we felt that Practice Director would be the easiest company to work with and most closely fit our needs.
The Process: Ensuring Adequate Staff Training“We approached the training by making sure that staff had enough time to use Practice Director’s online training program. We allowed each staff member at least 20 hours of uninterrupted training time during office hours. We trained for six weeks and closed the office for two days prior to going live. “My goal for switching practice software was to fully implement the entire Practice Director program while maintaining a nearly full appointment book. In retrospect, we ran at about 90% of our usual capacity while doing our best to fully utilize the program. At the end of the first week, we were frazzled but knew that we were going to succeed with PD.
The Results: An Efficient, Paperless Office“I like that the EHR template can be arranged in a way that most comfortably fits my style of practice. After a few weeks, routine exams were a breeze and my staff and I are now comfortable with more demanding medical visit requirements. The scoring system for EM visits is very helpful and has opened my eyes to how much under-coding I had been doing prior to using Practice Director. “Practice Director is easy to navigate and logical in its layout. My staff can now fly around the program, and we have recently trained a new staff member to use it confidently within a few weeks.The E-prescribing feature works very well; it is easy to use and cuts my time in writing and tracking an Rx to seconds. “With our old paper charts, we spent too much time filing and created tons of paperwork. One of our goals when switching to Practice Director was to make our office paperless. Although we still use paper for a few things, we are otherwise nearly paperless. The only time we look for charts are when we are looking up old patient information. “We have used the document section of Practice Director to store all documents that were formerly clogging up our charts. We have also devised a system using iPads to gather patient information. Information that was formerly gathered by paper is now all given to our patients to fill out on iPads and is directly entered into the document section of Practice Director via DropBox. Our concerns that certain technophobic patients would refuse to participate have been largely unfounded. “Practice Director has allowed us to think of new ways to innovate in order to turn paperless. Insurance authorizations are saved in PDF format, insurance cards are scanned, and correspondence to and from other practitioners is now scanned. We also now have an internet fax service and credit card scanners that we use on iPods, iPads or smart phones. This has saved us time and money, as we have been able to dump our dedicated fax/credit card phone line.
Conclusion: EHR Investment Added to Long-Term Business Value“It has been one year since we went live with Practice Director. My entire staff and I have worked hard to make sure this was a successful endeavor. We have had over 4,000 patient visits and feel at home with our new EHR program. With Practice Director, we have found a company willing to help us succeed. “We have found their online suggestion program to be a helpful way of bringing our concerns directly to the company without using valuable time playing phone tag. I have found company representatives to be very attentive to our concerns and have had encouraging conversations that make me confident Practice Director will grow their business in a way that will help me grow my business. This is one of the best decisions I have made in my 20 years of private practice. “Investing in an EHR was an investment in my professional life that will pay dividends and add value to my business long into the future. The efficiencies that Practice Director has added to our business will allow me more time to spend with my family and pursue other interests.”
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