December is the time of year for gift-giving. Many of us are running around with our lists and packing our shopping carts full of DVDs, video games, holiday sweaters, and virtually everything imaginable for our loved ones. How many of those items will go back to be returned or exchanged the day after Christmas? Have you ever searched for the perfect gift that will always be useful, and never need to be returned, exchanged, or exiled to the back of a closet? This holiday season, consider purchasing an Electronic Health Record (EHR) system. EHRs will benefit you, your staff, and most importantly, your patients.

EHR systems benefit physicians in many ways. Before EHR, many of our physicians had to work late every night catching up on their documentation. Whether they were hand-writing charts, manually typing, or finishing up dictation, physicians can spend countless hours pushing papers. EHRs can eliminate paperwork and streamline your processes. You can use the extra time to focus on your patients, or leave the office early to spend with your family. Who wouldn’t want to spend more time with their loved ones around the holidays?

EHR systems can also help your office staff. Medical offices can be hectic places; your staff is probably bombarded with incoming phone calls and faxes, tracking down wayward charts, or helping patients that need to be checked in. EHR systems can reduce the fuss and give you a more relaxed work place. Digital faxing will eliminate constant inbound paper faxes, along with the need to manually file faxed paper work. Electronic charts can drastically reduce the time it takes to locate a patient’s files. Up to 60% of the charts your staff pulls daily could be from pharmacy or patient phone calls. EHR systems can cure your headaches and let your staff focus on your patients.

Finally, EHR systems can give the greatest gift to your patients, the gift of improved care. Electronic prescribing ensures that your prescriptions are filled accurately. There is no chance of a pharmacists misreading a script and potentially endangering your patients. Drug-drug and drug-allergy checks can prevent dangerous medication interactions from harming your patients. Formulary checks will ensure your patients get medications their insurance will cover. Order management can remind your patients to follow up on any labs or procedures you order for them. Patient portals and Personal Health Records allow your patient to become more involved in the healthcare process, giving them access to their health information.

If you are thinking about EHR, consider the reasons to purchase one this December. First, tax code 179 allows your practice to write off technology expenses up to $225,000 for systems purchased during 2009. Second, the HITECH Stimulus Act allocates federal money to reimburse physicians for purchasing and implementing a certified EHR. Third, purchasing in December will allow you to hit the ground running in January, so you, your staff, and your patients can start reaping the benefits of EHR. This holiday system, give the gift that keeps on giving. Give the gift of EHR.


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Ryan Ricks

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www.XLEMR.com