The highest calling of a doctor is to heal - to use our unique skill set and vast experience to return our patients to health. It’s a clinic’s task to minimise the time clinicians spend doing non-clinical work, whether that’s writing reports, maintaining records or copying out medical histories from one place to another.
By working with specially designed practice management software, doctors can boost their productivity and spend more time with patients. Medical practices depend on each and every doctor in their employ, and when healthcare professionals have the best tools at their disposal, patients prosper. Andrew G., a urologist and specialist in male health at Modern Diagnostics explains what clinicians stand to gain from using IT solutions.
Why Do You Need an EMR?
I’ve been a Medesk user since 2015. Within the first year, we gradually realised how vital it was to our operations, to the extent that we’re now online on a daily basis. Our main requirement as a clinic was the capacity to store all our data in the cloud, rather than having to maintain servers ourselves. We also hoped to benefit from the ability to use the software anywhere in the world. That way, even if we were somehow whisked off to the Sahara, we would still be able to work. Our goal was to run the practice from anywhere with an internet connection.
Our next challenge was to tackle our document and workflow issues, with the aim of going totally paperless. Ultimately, we wanted to create digital documents that could be opened, printed, copied and saved electronically.
Now that we had handled our primary aims, we were tasked by our practice manager to resolve the issue of cost and usability.
How Does It Work?
Some people find it difficult to adapt to using any kind of computer software, and my colleagues were no different. Some of them questioned various aspects of the system, but in most cases they were able to get a handle on the situation by watching the videos provided in the Support section. In other cases, our more IT-literate colleagues were able to demonstrate how to complete a given task and obtain the desired results. All in all, the Medesk interface proved to be very user-friendly.
Any problems that could arise during the transition to a new system tend to result from users having a biased attitude to begin with. After all, you won’t be able to figure out how to use even a calculator if you have no desire to try.
I had a pleasant experience in this regard, however. We have a neurologist who is, to put it kindly, of a venerable age. I showed him our new workflow, and he took 2 days to get up to speed with all the video tutorials while we made his consultation notes templates. Since then, he has been using Medesk for a couple of months without a single hitch and now says that his workday is better than ever. Why write anything down by hand when you can have an electronic template with clickable buttons? All you have to do is click and all the necessary information is recorded in the consultation notes. There’s not even any need to print anything out.
How Do Doctors Benefit?
For example, when a patient has been referred to me by their GP for a specialist consultation, I can see their past medical history, prescribed medications and any advice dispensed by this and other physicians. I can just look at the medical history and see the results I need without having to wait for documents to be scanned and uploaded… Ultimately, I get speed and quality all in one.
When I worked in the public sector, I spent up to 70% of my time filling out paperwork, and I was expected to use the remaining 30% to see patients and handle all my clinical duties. Now my situation is quite the opposite - I spend 70% of my time in direct contact with patients and only 30% dealing with documents. Ready-made templates and documents have rapidly made a long-held professional dream a reality.
We strive to create a work schedule for our practitioners that dedicates as much as time as possible to each patient. We aim to give ourselves the option of increasing appointment times if it becomes necessary at short notice due to clinical or other demands. On a typical day, 30 minutes is enough for a first-time appointment. We make sure that each patients gets this half-hour without fail, the reason being that this is the optimal time for doctors to listen to the patient, record a history, and carry out an examination. In the end, each patient gets exactly the treatment they need and deserve to have.
Most Valuable of All Is Time
In my spare time, I’ve been trying hard to improve my snooker. I’ve even started playing video games on the PlayStation, and it turns out that I’m quite good at it. Not only that, but I also like to mix work and play. I often find myself picking through Medesk in search of anything for which I could suggest improvements. I am fascinated by IT infrastructure. It’s really interesting how it all comes together. At the moment, I’m also actively improving my clinical skill set, particularly in ultrasound diagnostics.
When I was a child, I dreamed of becoming a computer programmer and somehow combining these skills with medicine. Once I got to university, my friend and I found ourselves moonlighting as website designers in HTML and Java. We also took to hooking up entire apartment blocks to the internet, going on to configure servers and virtual private networks amongst other things.
I never regret the time I spent on non-medical things. I only regret the things I was unable to accomplish. I still feel this way even now, and there never seem to be enough hours in the day.