Speaking in a pseudo-panic, I called the lead physician at Carolina Oncology Specialists and asked this question.
“Why do you need this EMR software?”
I had been commissioned to write an electronic medical records program for this medium-sized oncology office in Western North Carolina, but had suddenly become unconvinced that what I was writing was 1. necessary and 2, relevant. COS has had a long history of success and prestige in its market and although its customer base was rapidly expanding, its paper charting system was working well. Why fix what ain’t broke?
I didn’t want this project to become a case study in wasted development and poor planning; I needed validation that this software would truly improve the lives of the patients and employees of COS. The lead physician, Dr Orlowski (My Father) eased my panic and we concretized our previously nebulous goals. The on-going pursuit of these goals will be the foundation of further discussion on this blog:
The goals we outlined are:
1. Improve patient safety — dosing precautions, tracking allergies, etc.
2. Increase office productivity — less time looking for charts/patients
3. Reduce patient waiting time
4. Record an up-to-the-minute accounting of office events
5. Create auditable data trails for reporting and potential future government quality assesments
6. Provide backwards-compatability with the current paper chart system.
7. Call it an EMR
We agreed that “having an EMR” was not enough. It had to actually make life better for the people who used it. What good is having an EMR if it grinds your office to a halt?