When I started my first job out of Optometry school, one of the first big projects I was thrust into was transitioning our practice from an existing electronic health record (EHR) to a new EHR.
That meant researching, selecting, preparing, and training our staff and doctors on a brand new system. That new EHR happened to be RevolutionEHR.
Our business would not be where it is today without that transition.
I am not unique, I know of many other new graduates that are tasked with the same challenge.
Your expertise, especially as a new graduate is invaluable.
As new grads, by the time we are looking for our first job, we’ve had a lot of experience going to a new practice and being forced to learn a brand new EHR.
That’s pretty much what the first few days of any externship/internship are like. So we are pretty familiar with what elements of an EHR we like and don’t like–what works well, and what we wish was better.
If you find yourself in my position where you need to choose an electronic health records system and happen to be reading this, you may ask, like one of my classmates did recently, “Why did you pick RevolutionEHR?”
When you think of your electronic health record client or the one you may be considering, as doctors we almost exclusively focus on the health record aspect.
- How do I input patient data and testing results in an efficient manner?
- How easy is it to customize the look and feel of the record to match my exam flow?
- Does it have all the tests I may run available to me?
While that’s really important, you may miss the bigger picture of what a health records system needs to do for your entire practice. What can it do as an optometry practice management system?
This article tries to look a little more peripherally, at the things you may not primarily consider when picking an EHR.
1) The Cloud
This is a pretty fundamental part of RevolutionEHR.
We made the switch to RevolutionEHR because we anticipated a practice expansion. Everything I talk about for the rest of the article would not be as great or as fundamental to the way we do business if not for the cloud.
The ability to access data about our patients or our practice in different locations is something we could not do without.
I’ve written this article in four different locations: in my office at two of our practices, in my home office, and on my phone. I have had access to all of the elements I will discuss later in this article at all of those times.
If the data you need can’t be where you need it, I strongly urge you to look for a better way.
I told the story in a recent NewGradOptometry.com webinar of trying to organize our practice metrics for the first time.
A professor once taught us that you can’t change what you don’t track.
I wanted to track everything.
Our previous EHR was unintuitive when it came to accessing and creating reports. Often it would spit out figures that were incorrect and we had to hand calculate or hand tally to get right.
Now it would be all well and good for me to just type something to the effect of RevolutionEHR does it better and move on to the next topic.
I don’t think that would properly tell the story.
Here’s how the reporting in RevolutionEHR has changed our business.
With quick access to a copious amount of data, we have now implemented a goal system for our staff. We have key performance indicators that we track which translate to bonuses or become integrated into our staff performance reviews.
Our staff gets a weekly summary of their performance toward those goals. When we ask staff to rate their opinions on what parts of our practice they like the best, clearly outlined goals that are regularly communicated/updated, is always one of the highest scores we get.
If you are somebody who gets really excited about MIPS, MACRA, MU, PQRS, or acronyms in general then bless your heart.
When I hear or see those letters, it makes my brain fog over. When we heard that somebody else could help us with this stuff, namely the RevAspire team, we were more than happy to punt the ball that way.
I think that electronic health records should be more of a complete system than just a single product.
I really believe, and I think you are also starting to see, that we should be doing more with all this data than we are right now. A good EHR should not just be a receptacle for data, it needs to use that data to work for you.
It’s basically all the add-ons you can use to take things off of you or your staff’s plate. We utilize RevAspire for all the acronyms and RevDirect for communication. We were a part of the beta for RevConnect, which is basically Rev360’s answer to Demandforce and Solutionreach. Rev360 is still in its infancy but I like where it is headed.
It’s basically all the add-ons you can use to take things off of you or your staff’s plate. We utilize RevAspire for all the acronyms and RevDirect for communication.
We were a part of the beta for RevConnect, which is basically Rev360’s answer to Demandforce and Solutionreach. Rev360 is still in its infancy but I like where it is headed.
4) Letter Generation
Here’s where an electronic health records system taking data and working for you comes into play.
I’ve done an exam on a diabetic patient and need to write a letter to their primary care physician. I click a button to generate a letter from the patient’s chart. The letter autofills with the patient’s demographics, provider’s information, exam results, and next scheduled exam.
I hit print and a count is automatically scored for the acronyms that I sent a letter.
Done, and I’m on to the next patient.
It should not be any more difficult than that.
We have a few different letter templates that we use. All of those templates can be customized from the type of test you want included to adjusting the margins to fit on your letterhead. Setting it up and customizing it takes a little time but the time savings on the backend more than justifies it.
A tasks client in an electronic health records system isn’t that novel.
I’m pretty sure that most EHR products have some sort of task function.
So why include it on this list?
What would be a better way of handling tasks? What if I could get the system to recognize when I would need to create a task, and set it up for me. RevolutionEHR isn’t quite there, but it’s close.
I have a custom care plan for my diabetic patients. At the completion of the exam, when I complete my assessment and plan, I drag over my diabetes plan. Within that plan is a check-out task to send a letter to the patient’s primary care physician.
I like to keep moving on to the next patient so I’ll write the letter when I’m done seeing patients, but how will I remember to do that?
Our checkout staff sees my check-out tasks and then assigns me that task. I see an alert for all the letters I need to complete at the end of the day.
6) Document Management
This may be a generational thing, but I hate paper.
I think it creates clutter and confusion. I know that’s not everybody. I remember one doctor when I was an intern had so many letters and paper charts on his desk that it looked ready to crumble under the weight of it all.
If there’s a paperless optometry world in the future, count me in. Alas, this is not the world today. So if we have to deal with paper we might as well do the next best thing – scan it into a cloud based system for storage and shred it.
I know some systems manage this by creating a list of everything you upload into the chart in one area.
It’s just not very efficient.
Not only will the file be in the patient’s chart, I can customize the test I want to associate with that file. So when I get to that exam element with that patient, I can open up the file and look at it when I need it.
7) Products/Services Catalog
This was actually one of the curious little annoyances I had with RevolutionEHR when we first began using it.
I know this contact lens only comes in one base curve. My practice law states I need to specify the base curve on a contact lens prescription. Why do I need to type in the base curve every time?
Well I can now import lenses with proper parameters included for most lenses.
Which is nice, but that’s not why I’m including it in this list.
The real special sauce for this is if you have multiple practices.
Lately there has been a lot of innovation in contact lenses and so many new products being released. I love using the new products, and love offering my patients something they may find a little better than what they have now. If I’m going to do that, however, I need to make sure I get all that information into our system quickly to match the speed of innovation.
That’s where the ability to quickly import a lens into the inventory, update the pricing, and share across our other practices in just a few clicks is really helpful. If you are somebody who gets a fit set, opens the box and starts pulling trials – I don’t know if there are any other systems that allow you to get that lens into the record faster.
8) Customer Support
The next two topics I’m going to cover involve tricks I learned at RevU – the annual RevolutionEHR user meeting. RevU brings RevolutionEHR users get together to learn how to use the software better, and maybe even more importantly, share tips and tricks with other users.
The onboarding process involves many training videos. I like checking in on those old videos just to refresh or remind myself of all the nuances I’ve forgotten.
Again, this is another section where I could type something relatively straightforward. I have used other EHR systems and been disappointed with the way that different exam types are handled. Disappointed that I can’t customize the exam tests in an order that matches my practice flow. Frustrated that the few exam types in the system aren’t comprehensive enough to encompass the unique way I practice.
Here again is another instance where RevolutionEHR features have transformed the way we practice and has proven to be valuable as an optometry practice management solution.
We created an exam type called Pre-Appointment. In our schedule, we have these stick out in a bright pink background color. That urges our staff to make sure these appointments get confirmed and then changed to a regular exam format.
Our patient retention has gone up since we have begun utilizing this system.
I know of other practices that have gone further with these custom exam types. Using them to create schedules for visits to the optician for frame adjustments or scheduling time with drug reps.
There are no limits on the ways you can integrate these different exam types in your practice.
10) Practice Preferences
I love to tinker and find little ways to make things work just a little bit better for my personal experience.
One of my favorite tricks learned at RevU involved digging into the practice preferences. I mentioned earlier my disdain for the clutter of paper and the difficulty of completely getting rid of it.
In the schedule, there is a button that allows you to print off the patient summary. These summaries for our practice go into folders that follow the patient around. The summaries include all the expected information: demographics, insurance information, exam type.
However, our form was missing some of the patient coordination elements that practices used to paper charts are expecting to see: recall, testing, previous refraction, etc. So what I found our techs doing was turning over that form and writing this information on the back.
However, at RevU, a colleague told me of a way to customize this form in the comments to add this information into the forms.
I’m increasingly impressed by the fact that if I have a thought, ‘I wish I could do (blank)’, there is a way with RevolutionEHR to do just that.