The pace of change when it comes to technology available for healthcare professionals is enough to make your head spin, but unless all of your providers are planning to retire within the next few years, keeping up with technology is essential for practice success.
Electronic medical records. By now, many practices-even the smallest ones-have jumped on the EMR bandwagon. If you’re still waiting to adopt this technology (perhaps hoping the push for practices to convert will somehow magically fall off the radar screen), make 2013 the year that you do your homework and invest in a system that suits your needs. The CMS has financial incentives available for medical practices to get on board with EMR technology and many vendors are now offering packages that allow you to access patient records from anywhere via computers and mobile devices. The transition might be painful, but in the end, worth it.
E-prescribing. Even if you’re not yet using an EMR system, stand-alone electronic prescription systems (software or web-based) can save doctors, staff, and patients time and reduce the risk of prescribing errors. If you’re not yet on an EMR system, make sure the e-prescribing system you choose will easily integrate with major EMR vendor systems so that your eventual conversion from paper records will go smoothly.
Apps for your smart phone. A recent survey conducted by ON24 (San Francisco) and MedData Group (Boston) revealed that approximately three-fourths of doctors now have smart phones. As you might imagine, dozens of apps for these mobile device users have popped up over the past several years. Two big ones that have proven useful are Epocrates® and Medscape. The basic version of Epocrates® is primarily a drug reference tool and it’s free. You can upgrade for $99, $149, or $199 to include a medical dictionary, information on alternative medicine, ICD/CPT codes, and much more. Medscape is free and offers drug reference and adverse interaction data, a formulary feature that you can customize to the insurance plans you accept, industry news, and more. A number of clinical calculator apps designed to save time and improve patient safety are also available.
Social media. Five years ago many doctors would have scoffed at the idea of having a Facebook page or Twitter account, but that attitude has changed. Social media isn’t just for kids anymore, and it’s certainly not limited to personal use. See this post about using social media in your practice.