As an Electronic Medical Record (EMR) vendor, we talk with many practices that are suffering from the recession. Although health doesn’t follow economic cycles – spending habits do. People may need medical care, but may have lost their job and their health insurance. Without insurance, patients may have to postpone care or forgo it completely. Declining patient volume leads to less income. How can your practice survive when times are tough? Reinvesting in your practice could be the answer.

Unfortunately, the healthcare industry lags behind other sectors in modernizing through information technology (IT). Many small and medium-sized businesses continue to reap benefits from investing in computers, networks, and software. From full paperless office solutions, to computerized cash registers and inventory tracking – computers and software help businesses streamline their work flows and operate more efficiently.

Think for a moment about the businesses you interact with; how many of them use some kind of IT to help run their operations? Chances are that even the most humble shop has some type of information system, even if it is only a credit card reader. Recently however, I purchased an item from an ancient general store in my home town. Much to my amazement, the clerk figured the sales tax using pencil and paper. Why aren’t we similarly shocked and amazed when physicians use pen and paper to capture our health information?

If the recession has affected your practice, take a few moments and consider how IT may help you streamline your workflow and cut costs. Does your staff spend lots of time looking for misfiled charts? Do they frequently hover over the fax machine feeding in forms and sorting through received documents? Do they spend hours photocopying and mailing charts and notes to other physicians? Have you or your staff spent several minutes staring at a chart trying to decipher poor handwriting? These are all problems that IT can solve for you.

If your practice still uses paper charts, you should look into purchasing an electronic medical record (EMR). A good EMR will bring many benefits including streamlining your workflows, reducing your operating costs, increasing your revenue, and most importantly, improving patient care. Many people die every year due to preventable medical errors. EMR systems can help prevent these errors, which in turn can lower the cost of malpractice insurance.

Unfortunately, many physicians focus on the price of EMR systems. Price is certainly important, but it is more important to consider the many long term benefits an EMR system will bring. Cutting operating costs, increasing revenue, and improving patient care all outweigh the initial software price. Furthermore, many vendors are offering special discounts and in-house financing to work with your budget. If you are a qualified physician, the HITECH Stimulus package will help reimburse you for using a certified EMR system. If you are still using paper, contact an EMR vendor today.

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Ryan RicksSecurity Officer