APR 16, 2009

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An Alternative to an EHR

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Amidst all the hoopla about electronic health records, Ken Beasley is sticking to his guns. When it comes to a conventional EHR, he says “thanks, but no thanks.” Instead, his group practice, Ortho Memphis, is using what he portrays as a “hybrid electronic medical record.”

The lower-cost option relies heavily on document imaging paired with doctors dictating notes for transcription.

And even if the federal government was to provide his practice with hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of grants to buy a conventional EHR, he wouldn’t budge.

That’s because Beasley, CEO of the 20-physician Tennessee practice, is steadfast in his belief that most conventional records systems get in the way of efficiently practicing medicine. So he won’t use one, even as the practice expands to 31 physicians later this year.

“Where I’ve seen them implemented they’ve really slowed the doctors down,” Beasley says. He argues that most of these systems are too cumbersome to use, requiring doctors to point-and-click on clunky templates or type in their notes.

A far more efficient method, he contends, is to continue the
age-old practice of doctors dictating notes for transcription.
Many records systems are so complex, he argues, that practices frequently use only a small fraction of their costly functions.

He figures his practice saved several hundred thousand dollars by implementing a hybrid system from SRSsoft, Montvale, N.J., back in 2003, rather than a fully-functional EHR. And the hybrid system investment paid for itself in benefits in less than three years, thanks to a decline in support staff and elimination of storage space for paper records, among other factors, he adds.

To read a case study on Ortho Memphis from the April issue of Health Data Management, click here.

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