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How to make the transition from paper to electronic records

17 August, 2015

Today, most practices recognise the need for making the move to electronic health records (EHR) and reducing the reliance on paper-based records.

In fact, the question is not if but when to make the change and, more importantly, how it should be done.

Here's a guide to help you through the process.

Establish the benefits

Before you get started, make a list of the reasons you want to make the change and clearly state how it will improve the way your practice runs. Your list might include:

  • Superior medical documentation and efficiency
  • Reducing space needed to keep records
  • Improved communication within your practice

Defining exactly how it will help you is a great motivation tool to make the transition and will keep you on track if you encounter obstacles along the way.

Plan it out

Careful planning is the key step for a smooth transition of records. There are several main components of an electronic health record system, including basic records, user interfaces, images, drawings, diagnostic interfaces, correspondence and generation of prescriptions that you may require.

It's important to consider the specific needs of your medical practice, before introducing the new record keeping system. The best solution for one medical practice may not be the ideal solution for another, so keep your individual practice needs in mind.

Get your team involved

The electronic health record system is going to be used by everyone that is part of your practice staff or team, so it is important that they feel empowered to use it in the best possible way.

At every step of the way, involve your team as much as possible. Ask them to contribute ideas of how to make the transition as smooth as possible and delegate tasks to them as you move forward. It's a group solution and the more people that are involved in the process, the more successful it will be.

It is likely that not everyone will be on board with making the change at first, particularly for those that may see it as extra work. Try to keep a positive attitude and establishing benefits of the change as a team can help to improve overall motivation.

Make the transition

The change from paper to electronic medical record should not be difficult if you have planned out the transition adequately. It's important to consider possible scenarios that could occur and prepare for the worst, in order to defend against possible errors.

Install your chosen software and give it a test run first, before rolling it out in your entire practice. When the final transition is complete, your practice will be able to benefit from the ongoing solution of electronic records, saving time and improving cohesive information records.

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