New electronic medical records debut at South Shore Derm
When an SSDP patient needed information about his skin cancer for his insurance company, he turned to his dermatologist for help. Armed with an iPad and the practice's new EMA Dermatology™ electronic medical record (EMR) software, Viraj Shroff-Mehta, MD, quickly updated the patient's record with the results of that day's visit and made sure he received a printed copy of the needed document before he went home. The speed with which the patient's request could be fulfilled amazed even Dr. Shroff-Mehta, who said, "He didn't have to wait for me to complete a handwritten note and mail it to him. With a few clicks, I was able to give him what he needed in just a few minutes so he could be on his way."
Easy access to medical records is just one of the benefits SSDP patients are likely to experience as a result of the practice's recent transition to EMA Dermatology. In addition, explains, Dr. Shroff-Mehta, after an initial introductory phase, patients will need to fill out less paperwork.
"It was important to us to be able to continue seeing our patients in a timely fashion so we could continue to meet our patients' needs without any disruption."
SSDP Dermatologist Viraj Shroff-Mehta, MD
One change already happening at the practice is a new team approach to the patient visit. "One of the biggest challenges we faced in implementing EMR was that all of the doctors were very committed to maintaining eye contact with our patients during the skin exam and wanted the fewest disruptions to the doctor-patient interaction," explains Dr. Shroff-Mehta. "In order to achieve that goal, we decided to have members of our nursing department accompany us into the exam room as 'scribes.' Having the nurse/scribe enter the doctor's findings into the EMR allows the doctor to stay focused on the patient without the distraction of using new software."
That keen focus on patient needs also played a role in the practice's more than yearlong search for the right EMR program.
"Because we are aware that our dermatological services are in high demand, we didn't want a system that would force us to reduce our schedules while it was being implemented," Dr. Shroff-Mehta stressed. "It was important to us to be able to continue seeing our patients in a timely fashion so we could continue to meet our patients' needs without any disruption." The EMA Dermatology program was chosen, in part, because it was designed by a dermatologist and supports dermatology practices in ways that other software programs do not.
"It's very dermatology specific," Dr. Shroff-Mehta observes. "It contains information about common and uncommon dermatological diagnoses, prescriptions, patient plans, guidelines, and more, and a huge, exhaustive database that can be customized to suit your practice needs. It is definitely the 'Porsche of EMRs,' " she says with a smile.
The impact of the new software system is already evident to SSDP patients as soon as they walk through the door. Upon checking in at the reception area, both new and existing patients are asked to fill out paperwork to update the system. Once the patient is brought into an exam room, photographs are taken to eliminate confusion in the database between people with the same name.
"The goal is to streamline the experience for the patient by keeping all of the data in one place," explains Dr. Shroff-Mehta. "It's a little cumbersome now because every patient has to be dealt with as though they are a new patient, but we expect that will not continue."
With patient privacy a top priority, SSDP has taken steps to protect its precious data with a firewall, encryption and a cloud-based storage system. Access to the patient data is also strictly limited.
As the practice enters its third month of using EMA Dermatology, the group is looking forward to benefitting from even more of its capabilities, such as having pathology reports delivered to the practice in a paperless transaction and communicating with referring physicians through the program.
"When we started using EMA Dermatology, we didn't know exactly what to expect," Dr. Shroff-Mehta describes. "Now we know what questions to ask and how to improve it. In the long run, I am hopeful the use of EMA will benefit our patients and us."
Viraj Shroff-Mehta, MD, is a Board certified dermatologist at South Shore Dermatology Physicians, PC, serving the medical and surgical dermatology needs of children and adults. To schedule an appointment with her or any of the SSDP physicians, phone 508.535.3376, or visit SSDP online at www.southshorederm.com.