Jan 4, 2023
Many optometrist practices continue to rely on paper client files, unaware of the pitfalls that they might face. Handling paper records, particularly when electronic health records are also in use, or when a patient management system is used, can create unnecessary workload for the staff and presents other core problems for the practice. These complications impact three pillars of a strong practice: quality of care, security, efficacy and quality of care.
Complication #1: Security
You might think that paper files are a safer way of maintaining client files, but the Office of Civil Rights would tell you otherwise. From July of 2014 to present, paper and film-based HIPAA violations were 21% higher than electronic format. This is partially because it is nearly impossible to monitor and audit all of the times each record is accessed and how it used. This can lead to improper use, unauthorized access, unnecessary disclosure and even theft. Furthermore, in the event of a disaster, these client files are destroyed. Keeping those files in a safe electronic vault is one of the best safeguards your practice can have in the event of hurricanes, severe storms, flooding, fire and other calamities.
Complication #2: Efficacy
Locating paper records, sorting through documents and organizing high volumes of records can gum up the operations of even the most efficient optometry practices. When clinical staff spends 40 percent of their time locating records and files (the average of any office), they are not available to attend to other skilled tasks. Paper client files can also only be in one location at a time, meaning that clinical staff and billing can’t access the record at the same time. This can create bottlenecks and makes it difficult for practices to be expedient.
Complication #3 Quality of Care
Slowing down the potential productivity of your staff and limiting the ability of departments to act simultaneously can only drag down your ability to provide the highest quality of care. Billing and insurance takes more time, clinicians are not as easily informed about the patient and the staff is busy with paperwork and less attentive. Consumers today expect things with more immediacy and anticipate that their optometrist has the “big picture” about their health. Not having this can turn customers away or potentially harm their help
Paper client files can cause a number of issues in a practice, costing more in staff, resources and time while failing to provide the optimal experience for patients. Understanding these challenges is critical to ensuring your practice offers the best care possible, while keeping patient files secure and easy to access.
ECRVault provides patient records management solutions for optometry practices nationwide. With core integration into leading patient management systems and electronic health records, ECRVault makes it possible for practices to reap the rewards of electronic document management and operate more efficiently and effectively. Learn more about our solutions
Craig Nielsen, OD