One of the most overlooked medical specialties that have not been included in discussions of electronic medical records is the practice of veterinary medicine. Veterinarians see many patients every day, and are required by law to document the examinations they perform. Like their human counterparts, animals can require an extensive amount of paperwork that can take many hours to complete. The animal owners expect that the data written in their pets medical records be correct and clearly written. Just as a small error in a medical record could potentially end a human life, even the smallest error can be very harmful to the life of an animal.

A minimal number of EMR companies have explored the options of adding a veterinary addition to their already extensive lists of specialties they offer. A few other pet-based companies have specialized completely on veterinary EMRs, yet this wonderful opportunity for vets to incorporate an EMR into their practice has not yet taken off. Like human physicians, veterinarians are hesitant to take the plunge with an EMR. Many are worried that the implementation and training will be too vigorous, and it will take far too long to be up and running successfully.

Veterinarians who do not use EMRs are working inefficiently, because a system that can make their lives easier is waiting at the tips of their fingers. Paperwork that can take hours of filing and typing everyday can easily be cut in half. You will see an increase in workflow and productivity from your staff, and pet owners will be much happier with the reduced number of medical errors. Electronic medical records tend to be more complete, leading to better medical records and better care.

With most veterinary EMRs, you can create templates that will spell out procedures that are frequently performed. Instead of typing out the logistics of a routine neuter or spay, you can type or use Dragon Medical to dictate into your EMR “I spayed/neutered a dog”, and the template will appear with everything you need to make a complete and accurate report.

Everyday processes like lab and radiograph reports can automatically be entered into a patient’s medical record by scanning into the computer as PDF files. Yearly and half-yearly inoculations are easy to keep track of by vet and by owner, as you can automatically set up e-mails to be sent out to owners reminding them to set up appointments for their pets. Electronic files can be pulled up within seconds on a computer when an owner calls to discuss their animal instead of looking through endless paper files.

Although being required to have an EMR is not mandatory for a veterinarian, it is evident that an EMR will enhance a veterinarian’s workflow. Like physicians that are now being pushed to implement an EMR, veterinarians should take advantage of our health system that is on the brink of a revolutionary technological breakthrough. It can only better a practice and make your life and career easier.

The best feature an EMR can offer is you and your staff will never again have to look for lost or misplaced records. From large animal specialties like equines to exotic specialties like reptiles, every type of veterinarian needs to jump on the EMR bandwagon.

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