13 Jul Using Office Practicum to Go Green!
Even though I started my practice using Office Practicum and we have no paper charts, we kept finding collections of paper in our office. Much of this was patient education handouts, some was diagnostic test results or specialist reports, and some was printed email exchanges. We have embarked on a journey to RID THE OFFICE OF THE DREADED PAPER!
As you are keenly aware, anytime you change office workflow, it requires careful implementation preparation. Change should be thoughtful and include staff buy-in. At our periodic office meetings we discuss what we would like to change, how we should prioritize it, when is the best time to implement, and how will we assess the impact. This is very much in keeping with the overall continuous quality improvement initiatives in medical practice.
In the days before the patient portal was available, we often exchanged email with our patients about non-urgent matters. In order to incorporate that information into OP we would print the emails and scan them into the patient chart. The current patient portal in Office Practicum allows for secure message exchanges with patients and families and is automatically part of the patient chart. One stack of scanning….gone.
Next step… lab reports. Currently our practice imports lab results directly into Office Practicum from Quest laboratories and our local hospital. Not only does this eliminate the pile to scan/shred, but the data is entered in a format which is easier to search, compare and use for clinical decision making.
Patient handouts were always a thorn in my side. For well visits, there is never enough time to discuss all the topics you would like to cover. It would take an hour for every well visit just to cover development and anticipatory guidance. (Who is going to pay us for that?) We have always relied on supplementing our visits with patient education handouts that were carefully and thoughtfully chosen and prepared. Finding them in the parking lot drove me crazy! With the newest version of the OP patient portal, we now attach patient education resources to the patient department as a standing order on our visit templates. As part of their appointment reminder distributed through the Patient Message Exchange, patients are encouraged to read them prior to their visit. They are also given the opportunity to complete surveys (such as the M-CHAT). No paper scanning of those either!
Our practice has purchased a license to access Patient Education Online through the American Academy of Pediatrics. Handouts on disease-specific education, safety tips, and more can also be distributed through the same mechanism. In addition, these handouts persist on the patient portal for future viewing. (Less phone calls to the office when parents can re-read the information they received on bronchiolitis.) Yet another reason why having a pediatric-specific EHR matters!
Last item on our current list: specialist reports. Currently, many of our area specialists have been faxing reports rather than mailing them. We need to replace our current fax anyway. This time we will make sure we have fax server capability where we can capture these reports directly to a folder (instead of having them print out then scan), and then attach them to the appropriate patient chart for review inside Office Practicum.
Now if we could just figure out how to get other healthcare professionals to stop sending us mail! I’m planning a trip to the forest to visit all the trees we have saved at the end of the year.