Beyond simply storing a patient’s medical data, electronic health records can manipulate information so you can streamline practice efficiency and improve medical care.

Electronic health records (EHRs) have great potential to grow your practice if utilized correctly. Many ODs think of an electronic health record simply as a patient record, yet properly using an EHR system can help improve not only your practice’s efficiency but also increase your net profit. Here are some ways to use your EHR system to its best potential.

Your practice’s overall efficiency starts with the front desk staff. When the patient calls for an appointment, the front desk staff should be trained to be able to review the record and evaluate what time slots would best suit that patient. They need to know which time slots are more valuable and understand which exams take longer in order to avoid bottlenecks in the exam lane and in the optical department.

Many EHR systems integrate directly with pre-test equipment and retinal photography, saving your staff time by automatically entering data and saving you time by enabling you to quickly review patient records. Another great feature of EHR systems is the ability to populate old exams into new records, thereby requiring fewer clicks and further improving efficiency during the exam.

At the conclusion of the exam, your patient’s eyeglasses and/or contact lenses prescription can be printed directly from your EHR to the optical department, where the patient can easily be handed off to increase your conversion rate.

EHR systems can also make recalls more efficient. Email recalls are the most cost-effective way to market your practice, and using your EHR to recall patients for routine eye exams as well as verify benefits will greatly improve staff efficiency.

Electronic health records are a great way to aggregate data to measure multiple metrics, find the information you want for your practice and help you succeed. You can understand what percentage of your patients purchase eyewear from you vs. other opticals vs. online. You can utilize your diagnosis codes to see if you would benefit from adding new technology in your office and the impact that cost would have on your return on investment. You can dig deep and figure out the percentage of patients with vision plans vs. patients with medical plans in your office. Using this information you can create a marketing strategy to attract the patients with certain plans who you feel would add value to your practice and increase your optical sales.

One of your practice’s key performance indicators should be transactions per patient. Your EHR system can provide that information, which you can use to evaluate trends while factoring in seasonal influences and the impact of managed care.

Follow your practice trends and determine your weak points using your EHR to create opportunities for success all year long!

Maria Sampalis, OD, of Sampalis Eyecare in Cranston, RI, is founder of Corporate Optometry on Facebook, and the Corporate OD blog. She offers strategic planning services through Corporate Optometry Consulting.


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