Careful medical record keeping is one of the essential aspects of delivering good medical care. When SkinCare Physicians opened its doors in 2000, we saw patients and recorded our visits in an old-fashioned paper chart. By 2008, we had transitioned to an electronic charting system that involved scanning the paper records of our patients. We still wrote in our charts as we always did, but these sheets of paper were securely scanned into a system that allowed improved tracking and management. And now, in 2017, we are moving to a truly electronic medical record (EMR)! During your future visits, you will see SkinCare Physicians’ dermatologists, PAs, NPs, clinical staff and aestheticians putting stylus to iPad instead of pen to paper!
In September, SkinCare Physicians’ staff spent free time and even weekends learning how to use Modernizing Medicine’s Electronic Medical Assistant (EMA) system. This new system will allow us to continue to provide the top-notch patient care that we are known for and that you deserve. Our aim is to adopt this technology seamlessly and in a way that will improve our ability to do what we already do best: take care of patients.
During the month of October, we are implementing Modernizing Medicine’s electronic medical record. Our schedules have fewer patients so that we can all continue to deliver excellent medical care while fine-tuning our capabilities with the new system. During your next visit, you may notice that many of us will be using iPads to record your important health information instead of writing on a clipboard. You may even see some of us dictating into our iPads to record longer strings of your medical history with EMA’s powerful speech-to-text capabilities!
One of the first things you will notice that is different during your visit to SkinCare Physicians is that we will be taking your photo when you enter the privacy of the exam room. You may be surprised to learn that patient misidentification is a major source of medical errors in the US: using a photograph in the electronic record is one of many ways SkinCare Physicians reduces the risks of medical errors. Our ability to take clinical photographs as part of your medical record will also allow us to better track and monitor your skin findings over time. This method is far more precise than verbal description could ever be. Rest assured that your photographs, like all of your medical record, is secure. Photos are considered protected health information, and are kept private and confidential. SkinCare Physicians will continue to safeguard all of this information diligently.
Modernizing Medicine EMA will help us track your health information more efficiently than ever before! We will be able to monitor your medications and discover drug interactions with databases that were unavailable to us before. Your lab tests and pathology reports can now be logged and overseen in a centralized log so that our clinical staff can discover reports that haven’t returned to our office in a timely manner. We can then proactively track them down! Letters to your referring physicians can be more easily and quickly written and faxed right from the exam room. EMA’s cloud-based system will also protect your medical records in the event of a natural disaster: your records will always be secure and available to you and your health team. Most importantly, though, EMA offers us the opportunity to decrease our charting time and increase our face-to-face time with our patients.
At SkinCare Physicians, we have always considered patients to be partners in their own medical care. As this first phase of Modernizing Medicine EMA implementation winds down, we will focus our future efforts on introducing our patient portal system. Never fear: if you don’t feel technically-savvy, you will still be able to reach us by telephone! Our portal system will be a secure, password-protected part of our web site where you may request appointments, exchange email messages privately about non-emergency issues, review your test results, get more information and education about your dermatologic diagnoses and treatments, and update your personal medical history. This will help SkinCare Physicians provide patient-centered care even more efficiently. Stay tuned!
All of us at SkinCare Physicians are embracing EMR and looking forward to sharing with you our safer, faster and better medical record keeping system.