Using the EMR to Minimize Stress in the Office
This past month I have had the pleasure of rotating with a visionary internist who is leading the way into the new era of American primary care. In a time when many independent physicians are closing down, Dr. Bond is just getting started, opening his doors in the college town of Athens, Georgia in 2010. If you're a student interested in someday going out on your own, you should find his business model encouraging and his managemet tips helpful.
Dr. Bond, while considering himself an "old fashioned family practice", has done a number of things very differently. "We've embraced the technology," says Dr. Bond. "By opening our doors in 2010, I was aware of the future of the electronic medical record. We invested heavily in a system that would work for us, and designed the office to be paperless from the ground up." By accomplishing a modern office, he is now years ahead of offices who are laboring to transfer established paper charts to their EMR. And trust me, this makes a world of difference in job satisfaction. "I'm done with the note when I leave the room. There's no stack of charts at the end of a long day."
When discussing why his office runs so smoothly, Dr. Bond gives credit to his staff. "Hire a strong office staff, train them well and compensate them accordingly." The office staff is indeed very impressive. They are well-trained to work as a unit. Each member of the team plays a vital role in the workflow of building the initial electronic chart, scanning records, scheduling specialist visits, drawing labs and recording phone notes. And at the end of the day, it is all available at the click of a button.
In marketing his practice, he targets those patients who will appreciate the technology. "We have an online patient portal, so we market to those who might appreciate the access." By using targeted advertising such as the nearby University of Georgia athletic events, his practice is well attended by young university-associated patients.
The electronic record is more than a note--it has major implications in billing, which is tracked by Dr. Bond directly. "Previously practices would be months behind in billing, often resulting in a large number of write-offs on labs and procedures." By combining the practice's electronic system with some knowledge of how notes are related to billing criteria, Dr. Bond is able to stay organized and on top of the current records. The use of computers to simplify the complex billing process will be what allows future independent physicians to keep their doors open.
The final product of a clever business model? A smooth work day, healthy patients, organized records and a much happier physician. "Medicine is a hard job no matter what specialty you're in," says Dr. Bond, "but it is much more enjoyable when you have time to spend practicing medicine rather than worrying about documentation." Seems to me that the small-town doc isn't going anywhere after all.
For more information you can visit Dr. Bond's website at www.drtobybond.com