5 Tips for Making the Most of your Ophthalmic EMR Software

So you’ve finally gotten used to your ophthalmology EMR system? Maybe you’ve even learned to like it. But whether you love your EMR or you’re just resigned to the reality that it’s not going away, chances are good that you aren’t making the most of its capabilities. Implementing an EMR in your practice takes a significant amount of time, money, and staff effort. That means you need to get as much benefit out of your system as possible.

5 Ways to Maximize Your Ophthalmolgy EMR Software

If you’re like most eye care practices, your budget is tight and your staff is stressed. If you can improve your practice by leveraging a resource that you already have, what’s holding you back?

Invest in EMR Training

This is one of the easiest—yet most overlooked—ways to learn how to make your ophthalmology EMR work for you. Most vendors offer some kind of online training, including webinars, online courses, recorded videos, and tutorials. There are also online user groups and forums. It may take some time to find these groups, but they are invaluable. If your vendor doesn’t have a user group, consider starting your own. Or if you need a more personal touch, consider hiring a consultant (one that’s independent and not beholden to one particular EMR). Sometimes consultants are even ex-employees of a vendor.

Many vendors also have annual user group meetings. At these conferences, you can attend educational sessions (where you can often earn CEUs), network and learn from other users, take advantage of one-on-one support sessions, and more. Sending key staff members to a user group meeting is a great way to take advantage of learning opportunities at an affordable price.

Rely on the Technology

Everyone makes mistakes and forgets things from time to time, so why rely on your brain when you don’t have to? Technology (in the form of your EMR) can reduce opportunities for human error—if you let it. A few examples:

  • Embed consents and signatures.
  • Program preferred treatment guidelines and treatment option reminders based on documented symptoms.
  • Program different diagnosis considerations based on documented symptoms.
  • Add billing/exam elements to reduce billing and coding errors and maximize billing opportunities.
  • Add an E/M coding checklist to ensure you have all the necessary elements to code a specific level.
  • Program your system to send automatic to-dos to employees based on documentation.

You should be able to work with your ophthalmology EMR vendor to implement changes like these. Don’t be afraid to speak up to your vendors and demand that the EMR’s functionality meets your practice’s needs.

Think Beyond Documentation

Your ophthalmology EMR isn’t just a tool for documentation and patient records. It’s also a marketing powerhouse. The data your EMR contains can help you figure out who your patients are, why they’re visiting your practice, and what services/procedures they’re having while they are there. This data includes:

  • Patient demographics: Glean statistics like age, zip code, insurance carrier, employer, hobbies, and referral sources.
  • Clinical data: Determine why your patients visit you. You have access to medical histories, procedures, vision correction modalities, and more.
  • Practice data: The KPIs you can access from your ophthalmology EMR are almost endless. Find out what codes you’re billing, optical metrics, revenue across many different variables (provider, day, location, etc.), and more.

Once you’ve identified the type of data you want to work with, you can tailor your marketing efforts to target specific groups of patients. For example, you may want to target contact lens patients over age 40 or dry eye patients who are new to your practice. In short, by using date from your EMR, you’ll be able to better target your marketing dollars and see better ROI.

Change Your Perspective

Your practice may struggle with adapting your ophthalmology EMR to their practice’s workflows. But what if you tried it the other way around? Many practices haven’t changed their workflows to keep pace with new technology. Instead, they’re struggling to combine old, inefficient workflows with new technology. Take a look at your workflows from an electronic point of view and see if there are any areas you could redesign to mesh better with your EMR. Areas to analyze include:

  • Check-in and check-out
  • Patient scheduling
  • MIPS participation (i.e. quality reporting)
  • E-prescribing
  • Diagnostic testing orders
  • Referral management
  • Interoffice messaging/communication

Consider Complementary Software

Some ophthalmology EMR vendors offer software and/or services beyond the EMR. Options may include revenue cycle management, patient engagement tools, analytics software, a practice management system, patient acquisition and retention solutions, and more. Some vendors also partner with third-party service providers to add additional functionality like payment processing or POS financing.

If you’re looking for tools to enhance your ophthalmology EMR’s functionality, start with your current vendor first. Using one vendor for multiple products will ensure interoperability, streamline communication, and allow you to maximize the benefits of your EMR.

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