Top 5 EHR Efficiencies for an
Independent Optometry Practice

Gina Wesley, OD, MS, FAAO

Complete Eye Care of Medina, Crystal, MN

Electronic health records data entry and management can sometimes place a burdensome load on both staff and doctors. However this issue can be eliminated if time is taken to ensure the EHR is being used efficiently. Here are my top five suggestions for an independent practice to efficiently utilize their EHR:

1. Take the time to create appointment templates. Every doctor and practice is different, but if you take the time to create the preferred patient encounter template, you will streamline data entry and the flow will make sense for all involved. It will take some time and probably some tweaking to create the various appointment-type templates, but that upfront investment will save time and lessen frustration for all staff. It also creates effective record-keeping for each patient.

2. Create care plans. If you are constantly repeating the same plan action for patients, or have a specific protocol of instructions you follow depending on the diagnosis, a saved care plan will save you time. This plan can be triggered to pop up every time you have a specific diagnosis, or be available for selection as part of your plan items. This easily can save minutes per patient.

3. Pull data forward from the previous exams. One of the great aspects of EHR systems is the ability to pull data forward from previous patient visits. That data should always be reviewed and updated at every visit, but having the various fields populated with that information saves time in the exam room. I’ve often thought this actually saves me from needing a scribe, as my staff can pull the data forward; I review and make easy, quick modifications; still allowing me to customize my plan items as necessary all while not running late for the next appointment.

4. Utilize reports. There exists a wealth of data we can glean from our EHR systems, and utilizing the reports and/or creating custom reports through your EHR can give you a variety of methods and ways to analyze your practice. I find that reports help me make decisions regarding patient flow, purchases, staff production, scheduling, etc. If you enter any data point into an EHR, chances are you will be able to analyze it via reporting.

5. Sending tasks or messages. One of the most valuable features of my EHR is the ability to assign “tasks” to my staff and myself. These reminders of an item to attend to for a patient, or an order, or scheduling, etc., are critical to patient care. It doesn’t get lost within an email train because there is a due date associated with it, so the most pressing tasks are front and center. Additionally, once that task is “completed,” it saves to that patient’s notes for historical tracking. Incredibly valuable information regarding that patient is thus saved and easily referenced.

EHR systems can be inefficient if one doesn’t take the time to understand how best to operate within them. Put forth the time, and the reward for efficiency will easily become apparent.

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