Here’s another tip I learned over the first year in my solo practice that has really added efficiency and productivity to my office.
Tip #2. Use an electronic health / medical record system (for free, if you can).
I’ll admit I’m biased here. I hate buying something that I can get legally for free. And as far as EMR systems go, there’s more than one option on the market at the present time. In my office, we use the guilty pleasure of Practice Fusion and have been pretty freaking happy for a year now. Mitochon Systems is another company that offers such an EMR system, although I confess I haven’t tried it. Practice Fusion now claims about 60,000 users, although these are not all physicians. For a recent review of their stats, an interview with the CEO can be found at HisTalkPractice.com. These companies often use alternative sources of income in order to avoid passing on their business costs to the providers and staff using their systems. In the case of Practice Fusion, we see small ads for medications at the bottom of the screen or off to the side. For me, this is tolerable, and I don’t feel any pressure to prescribe these drugs. They are not popup boxes that would require you to close before being able to work on patient charts, and so this allows them to be minimally invasive into your daily activities.
In bipartisan fairness, there are a variety of systems that you can pay for if desired, and indeed there is a pay-for option to use Practice Fusion without the ads for around $100 per month. If you have ethical qualms about using a reportedly “free” system due to supposed “hidden costs”, financial and “otherwise”, that someone else will need to pay for, then you may wish to pay yourself. Just please please please don’t make the mistake of thinking that free systems are somehow less capable or functional, simply because they are free to users, and “after all, how good could it be if it’s not expensive?”. As the old saying goes, “Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.” Now, as for my soapbox on drug companies and their tactics to ruin physicians’ ability to choose drugs they would really like to prescribe, we’ll have to save that one for another post…
Dr. West is an endocrinologist in private practice in Washington, DC. He completed fellowship training in Endocrinology and Metabolism at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Dr. West opened The Washington Endocrine Clinic, PLLC, as a solo practice in 2009.
Full Disclosure: Practice Fusion and Mitochon Systems are both advertisers on EMR and EHR, but I’m not sure Dr. West even knew this when he wrote the post. Plus, Dr. West didn’t get paid to write this post either. He just loves EMR and is glad to share his good and bad experiences with it.