When last we visited the world of electronic medical records, Dino and Friend were happily puttering along with our freebie EMR and our freebie practice management system (including free electronic claim submissions.) We were hooked up electronically to the lab, so we entered orders and got results through the computer, though we still have to print out requisitions and labels for specimens. But we still had a fax machine.
Until about six months ago, when I splurged on a hideously complex and expensive piece of technology which we plugged into the fax phone line and one of the office computers, and Voila! Faxes on the computer. The fax machine still sits there, seldom utilized (except for outgoing faxes; we could do those electronically as well, but Friend has some techno-timidity), though it comes in handy when the power fails. (It comes back on automatically, whereas the computer does not.)
At last the office utilization of paper has shrunk. Dramatically! Checking faxes is now a matter of point and click instead of risking smeary-inked paper cuts. Best of all, they go directly into the EMR.
The next step — over a chasm still as yawningly huge as ever — is sharing all this information with other doctors. As mentioned above, lab results come directly into the computer as well. Luckily, the lab has this nifty feature allowing me to send duplicate copies to referring physicians. So whenever I draw a test for another doctor, I always make a point of asking the lab to send it along. (Yes, people come to me for blood draws. I have mad phlebotomy skillz).
There’s this one office, though, that always calls and asks us to fax patients’ labs over.
“Didn’t you get it from the lab?” I ask, over and over.
“No,” they claim.
I look at the lab report. Sure enough, it says right there, “DUPLICATE FAXED TO ABC SPECIALISTS.”
“But the lab report says they sent it to your office.”
“Oh, well Dr. A can’t access it through our EMR unless it comes directly to him.”
Only problem with that is that when I put Dr. A’s name into the lab, the program changes it to the practice information.
So I guess we’re not finished killing trees just yet.