Tips for a Smooth Transition from Paper Charts to an Electronic Medical Records Software System – Part One

Switching from paper charts to an electronic medical record software system may seem daunting, but with the right training and the right system, it can be painless. Plus, once you make the switch, you’ll reap the benefits of electronic charting in more ways than one, including reduced charting time and decreased operating costs. You’ll have more time to focus on doing what you love – being a vet.

This series takes an in-depth look at how to successfully implement an EMR within your practice. Part One focuses on the selection and preparation of switching to your new EMR. Part Two, which will be published next month, focuses on the training and implementation periods of your software.

The Practice's Technology Infrastructure Must Support the Goals

Most veterinary practices have more than one computer, which is ideal for an EMR system because it allows easy access to records no matter where a staff member is; however, to reach paperless goals, the practice’s technology infrastructure must offer adequate support.

One important factor when it comes to support is the bandwidth. Check the bandwidth of the cabling used in the practice to make sure that it will not slow the system down (most new wiring is CAT5e).

Document Scanning, Simplified

Many practices use general-purpose scanners that have an automatic document feeder to scan documents into their systems. Also, for the sake of efficiency, some of these practices find it beneficial to schedule a scanning session a couple of times a week. During these sessions they scan patients’ outside reports into their files. These weekly sessions make adding patients’ results (labs, emergency reports, etc.) to their charts a quick and easy task.

Check Out All the Available Options

Underutilization is one of the main problems for veterinarians when it comes to using an EMR system. Using the software to its fullest potential offers an array of benefits. For this reason, it is important that the veterinarian spend some time talking with the vendor about what he or she is looking for in an electronic medical records system. For example, since veterinarians frequently deal with injured animals, the ability to upload pictures of these injuries into patient’s files would be beneficial.

Ask What Other Veterinarians Find Useful

Make sure to ask the vendor what other veterinarians are finding useful at their clinics. Some practices may opt for a free-form approach, while others prefer to use a template. Both of these options have their own advantages and disadvantages. Vendors know their products and can help veterinarians determine which options will serve their practices the best.

The Template Option

Prior to committing to any template or the template option in general, try out a variety of them on pets of family friends, staff members, breeders and the humane society. By doing this before implementing the electronic medical records software system, tweaks can be made to ensure a smoother transition.

To learn more about switching to electronic medical records, read our Knowledge Drop here.

Be sure to check back next month for Part Two of this series, which focuses on the training and implementation of your new EMR software.

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