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    Tuesday, February 01, 2005

    So, How is That EMR Going? Not too bad. Although at this point it does slow down things - a lot. I usually run on time. I pride myself on it. But since going electronic I've been routinely running 30 to 45 minutes late. It's taking a couple of minutes longer to check patients in, a couple of minutes longer to put people in a room, and couple of minutes longer for me to see them. All those couple of minutes add up to 30 to 45 by the time ten to twelve patients have passed through. I'm hoping this will get better as we get used to it. I live in fear of prescriptoin typos, and find that I make more of them the more behind I am.

    As for my staff, they're having trouble breaking old habits, and that's slowing things down, too. Instead of checking to see if a patient has a computerized record, they automatically go to the paper charts and start searching if there's an abnormal lab result. They still bring me phone messages written on paper and attached to the paper chart instead of entering the message in the computer chart. In the paper system, when I had to write a letter to a patient, I would type it out on the computer, print it, sign it, and give it to the staff. They would make a copy for the chart and mail off the original to the patient. The computerized record prints and saves the letter to the patient's file. All the staff has to do is put it in an addressed envelope. And yet, this afternoon, I found a copy of an electronic-record-generated letter in the "to-be-filed" folder, waiting to be filed away in the old paper chart. No wonder we're always running behind.

    And yet, there are definite advantages. Today, I received some lab results on a patient who is a transplant recipient. The results were not good, and needed immediate attention. This particular patient usually goes to a tertiary care center about an hour from here for her care, so I had no idea whether or not these results were far from her baseline. And as often happens, I couldn't reach the patient during office hours. It was late tonight before I made any contact. Thanks to the EMR, I was able to talk to the transplant fellow on the phone, with her chart and lab results in front of me - from home. But it was nice to be able to pull up the details of her visit last week, too, to accurately fill in the background for the other doctor.

    I'm still optimistic that in the long run having computerized records will be better and more efficient than paper records. They certainly take up less storage, at any rate.

    posted by Sydney on 2/01/2005 10:00:00 PM 0 comments


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