Today’s Allergists have relied heavily on electronic health records for quite some time. From complete sets of medical records to advanced spirometry machines, the accuracy and reliability of these data systems are paramount for delivering high quality patient care. The sophisticated technology is undermined, however, if some pieces of the allergist’s arsenal aren’t integrated into a comprehensive Electronic Medical Record ( EMR ) system
THE ALLERGIST’S EMR
The EMR needs of allergists vary widely. To choose the extent to which you want all of your data incorporated into one system will depend on how the EMR System will integrate into your office setting. For example, when you do physical exams, spirometry and observation each in a different room, you need your EMR to be able to automatically migrate all of the patient’s data so that it is accessible from any computer station. While it may at first appear simple to choose an EMR that will work in your particular practice, there are several considerations for the growth plan for your practice and overall strategy of workplace efficiency. Therefore, we will begin here with the assumption that all patient records will be easily accessible from one user interface, not multiple software programs for different types of records.
VERIFY EQUIPMENT AND SOFTWARE COMPATIBILITY
You likely care for patients that have had outside tests performed, and have felt the frustration of having results that
you can’t view yourself because of software or equipment incompatibility. It isn’t enough to read a colleague’s opinion
about the test interpretation. The test results will either be devalued or the entire test will be repeated. For example, if
you use Quest Medical’s Astra 300 for computerized spirometry data and patients are referred to you with a CD-ROM
that has test results from a Puritan Bennett Renaissance II PB700, you need to make sure that the EMR you choose
to grow your practice will be compatible. There are such a tremendous number of issues of this nature, that checking
for compatibility between your existing system, your anticipated system, as well as the EHR and other healthcare
technology systems in use by your colleagues is a critically important issue in choosing your own EHR/EMR.
BUILDING TRUST IN YOUR EMR SYSTEM
The daily operations of your practice should not have to adapt to accommodate an antiquated or poorly
designed EMR. Nor should they be modified to suit a system designed for a different specialty. Using an EMR that is
appropriate for Allergists is critical, or you will find yourself scrapping the system, after tremendous costs and efforts
have been expended. In fact, it should be the other way around. For example, critical blood gas results should trigger
a combination of audible and visual notifications ensuring that you and your staff are kept updated on a moment-bymoment basis when giving breathing treatments. The ideal goal is to have a system in place that you can trust will
alert you to important events and results that affect your patients and your practice as a whole.
EASILY TRACK STAFF AND PATIENTS’ ACTIVITIES
Once you’ve fully implemented your new EMR, your office life should be easier, not harder. The last thing your
sophisticated allergist’s suite and EMR System should be is a burden to you and your office personnel. Verify that
the EMR you’re considering will seamlessly integrate patient appointments, reminders, and other scheduling
Special tests such as periodic RAST assays may require that your staff spend time sending out reminders and
tracking down results prior to an appointment with you. An EMR System that integrates emails or phone calls one
week prior to an appointment would improve efficiency and decrease the workload of personnel in your practice.
The options you have available to you for EMR’s are vast. In addition, you can have them optimized and programmed
specifically for your practice. From ordering special materials prior to food allergy testing to checking who logged into
the EMR, a lot of repetitive tasks can be integrated into an office system and monitored. This will mitigate human
error and improves your practice’s measurable outcomes. This will materially increase the opportunity for you to
receive federal funding for using an EHR in a meaningful fashion.
Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine ( DICOM ) is a standard construct used increasingly by Health
Information Systems, but it is not universal. Because you frequently view plain radiographs, and may want to
view high resolution CT images alongside graphical data, the EMR System you choose will likely need to meet this
PACS is only one example of a viewer of patient imaging, but it is not the only one. To ensure that all of the
equipment and software you use can be accessed and viewed within your EMR interface, it will be important to
navigate the technical areas of licensing fees versus free viewers and custom integration programming.
You may want to use an experienced EMR consultant without the financial bias of a corporate sales team. Call
888.519.3100 or visit EMR consultant to speak with an expert who can help you make your investment wisely.