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Digital Issues

Archive >  January, 2014 XV, No. 1

I Didn't Know My EMR Could Do That

Our readers share the many pleasant surprises they've experienced from going paperless.

Dan O'Connor, Editor-in-Chief

EMRs going paperless BEYOND THE BASICS Many surgical facilities that invest in paperless systems don't use their EMRs to their full capacities.

Ever wish your EMR could do more than schedule, chart and code cases? It might be able to do a whole lot more — you've just yet to click through every tab, read the manual from cover to cover or ask your vendor to give you a screen-by-screen tour of your system to discover all its hidden horsepower.

"I didn't know all the things our system could do when we started," says Natalie Coubrough, RN, CASC, the director of the West Lakes Surgery Center in Clive, Iowa. That was before Ms. Coubrough and her staff discovered the full capabilities of their EMR. Now, she says that while "the change to electronic charting was painful, it was totally worth it for us. We would never go back to paper."

She describes her system as "extremely user-friendly, in that it is configured like a paper chart with tabs." The EMR is set up on tablets that can be deployed anywhere in the center. Among the many pleasant surprises, she most likes the "charting by exception" feature. Instead of typing out all of the narrative charting for every case, a click of the mouse populates the chart with the norms and staff add the items that are outside the norm. Similarly, she likes the fact that certain information will populate throughout the chart after being entered only once.

There's more. All physician standing orders and discharge instructions are at the nurses' fingertips. They have immediate access to old forms and records, and the ability to cut and paste information from the old record to the new. They can use a webcam to identify patients. They can scan documents into the record in any location. They can generate customized reports for implants or antibiotic timing for infection control purposes and reporting. "A huge plus for us — rather surprisingly so — is the great customer service we get from the company," she says.

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