As much as I’d like to say my EMR is perfect, and I’m always the happy EMR doctor, its’t actually not the case yet. There are several things I still can’t do on it, despite the logic that would dictate that I should be able to do such things on it. So I thought I would here put together a wish-list of things I hope the future holds for EMR software development. Most of them deal with me being still bound to printing or handwriting orders on paper that I need to give to patients. Now, I’m sure that many, if not all, of these are planned for future programming projects, but currently they don’t exist on many EMR systems.
1. Medical supplies for diabetes or any other condition.
As an endocrinologist, I have a box of preprinted prescriptions for orders of diabetes supplies, including alcohol pads, lancets, and test strips. I give out at least two or more of these pieces of paper daily. The patient then hand carries these slips, if they don’t lose them first, to the pharmacy of their choice. Why don’t I call the orders in? To answer that would require knowledge of the number of seconds it takes to scribble a patient’s name and a few X marks on the paper slip vs. calling into a pharmacy automated voice mail system. In short, it’s all about saving time.
2. Orders for radiology and nuclear medicine tests.
Ditto for the above, when it comes to CT scans, sestamibi parathyroid scans, neck ultrasounds with thyroid biopsies, etc. If I could only open a templated window, type a few quick words for the test details, enter a fax number of click facility name, and then click a “send” button, it would save a huge amount of time over a given day and eventually a year. Oh, then I could go back to being perpetually happy and blissful!
3. Integrated receipt and organization of faxes into patient charts.
This one would help the front desk staff more than me, but I still end up pitching in when we are getting swamped with work. And I can pitch in easily from my desk in the back of the office because my practice is 98% paperless and fully networked. (Oh, let’s get it to be 100% already!) I envision opening up a window within the software that would access my fax folder, open up a quick view of the faxes, and allow me to assign a patient’s name to the fax. Then it would be click and done.
These days, I think twice when I hear comments like, “We need it to do this,” with which I no longer always agree. Clearly, some intermediate functionalities are needed before we should ask for the cherries on top.
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. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.