Why are veterinarians failing at paperless practice?


Ask the dvm360/VHMA Practice Manager of the Year: The computers are great, the medical records are easy, but how exactly does anybody find the time to get their charting done with busy exam rooms?

Does your new paperless practice still feel like you're drowning in paper? The PMOY has tips for you! Read on.

“Our hospital has recently gone completely paperless, and our doctors are finding it very challenging to get their medical notes finished and in the computer in a timely manner. Do you have any tips for appointment flow and medical records in a paperless or paper-light clinic?”

At my hospital, we use V-Tech Platinum and went chartless in February, converting from Cornerstone. I created templates for doctors and technicians to put in SOAP notes.

The doctors will feel like they have more work, because we require them to get notes entered by the end of their shift so that the charts are accurate. We make it easier by using a client check-in sheet with all the client's information that routes through the hospital. We can then scan all signed documents and outside lab work into the file.

You must be mentally prepared that even though you're “paperless,” you'll still actually still use a lot of paper. You'll also still need to have access to your previous charts for a few years to be able to look back at the history of patients that don't come in often. The ease of the transition is really dependent on 1) getting everyone on board, 2) being open to working through new ways of doing things 3) and making sure your software is user-friendly and can store information easily.

We still struggle with some doctors getting their records finished by end of day, especially if they aren't fast typists or don't want to use the ready-made templates. But the idea is to allow them the first 10 minutes of the next appointment, while the technician is getting the history, to finish up the records of their previous appointment.

In a veterinarian appointment (vs. a technician-only appointment) the blocking works as follows:

• The first 10 minutes are set up for the technicians to check the patient in and get the history.

• The following 20 minutes (or balance if it is more than a 30-minute appointment) are for the veterinarian to spend time with the patient and client.

The reality is, you need to schedule time for doctors to get their records done. We block “same-day appointment” blocks in one 30-minute slot in the morning and one in the evening. This time can also be used for the doctors to catch up on their records or phone calls. They can also use “rounding hour” from 1 to 2 pm each day to catch up.

Judi Bailey, CVPM, is the hospital administrator at Loving Hands Animal Clinic and Pet Resort in Alpharetta, Georgia, and the founder and president of the Georgia Veterinary Managers Association. She is also the 2016 dvm360/VHMA Practice Manager of the Year.

Think you've got what it takes to be the 2017 dvm360/VHMA Practice Manager of the Year? Enter now!

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