News Feature | September 13, 2013

Improve Paper Records First For EHR Success

Source: Health IT Outcomes
Katie Wike

By Katie Wike, contributing writer


Assessing and streamlining your paper records process leads to an easier transition to electronic health records

Switching to EHRs changes how everything is done in the office. But unless your system is already running smoothly, existing problems have the potential to be magnified. The base of your new electronic records are your current paper records and if they are disorganized or hard to understand, don’t expect a smooth transition.

EHR Intelligence writes, “Before starting to use an EHR, practices should conduct a thorough workflow assessment that describes current habits in detail. This includes taking stock of your paper-based forms: the fields most often used and most often ignored, the areas of duplicated effort, and what might be falling through the cracks. While EHR templates can be customized to reflect what providers already do on paper, you should be wary of trying to exactly replicate your pen-and-paper clipboards if the EHR can do something better, quicker, or easier.”

Chiropractic Economics concurs, writing, “It’s the existing paper-based documentation that your office staff will be entering into the EHR system to serve as a basis for input of future patient case management and diagnostic data.

“Take a step in the right direction by optimizing your paper-based systems so that you can ease the coding and reimbursement process now, and prepare for future implementation of an EHR system with confidence and ease.”

In addition to preparing paper records, choosing what you need in an EHR system sets the stage for a smooth transition and helps to avoid a situation where records are stored in a hybrid system. The Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority found hybrid systems cause more problems than just coordination between paper and electronic records and their duplicates.

According to the PPSA, “Use of a hybrid workflow can lead to miscommunication among caregivers when orders and administration information differ between paper and electronic systems. This miscommunication can lead to medication errors like dose omissions and extra doses, which can cause serious harm to patients.” Their recommendation for offices using a hybrid system is to monitor their workflow and transition to EHRs in order to avoid errors.