When I joined my family’s chiropractic office in 2001 I felt overwhelmed learning the procedures of the office, which ranged from the intake forms, patient files, and ideal workflow to properly help each person who entered our office. Over the next few years the paperwork became extremely tiresome and monotonous so I began to explore other options to help our clinic.
This exploration lead to our office being one of the first fully networked chiropractic offices in the state of Washington. We were now free of the majority of extraneous paperwork and any literature or patient data we needed was available in every room. However, in spite of the many benefits a serious unforeseen problem did occur.
With each patient interaction, we found that we were no longer fully and effectively engaged the way we were when we had paper files in our hands. It seemed that with the introduction of the computer system in each room, our backs were facing the patient as we entered information, and this limited our ability to effectively communicate. As a family operated office we also found it down right rude to be discussing a pertinent health issue while being seemingly distracted by a computer. Not only this, but our attempts to take and enter the information from a through history, physical and neurological exam was now taking us longer than it did when we had paper files.
At this point I began to look at options to bring in tablet personal computers into our office. Due to the astronomical cost of each unit, and the limitation of our office management software at the time there was no practical option for us. It was extremely frustrating, and our relationship with each patient suffered because of it. At this point we briefly changed to a Palm operating device with failed miserably.
While we were able to work our many of the kinks of procedures to make them maximally effective, the recent improvements of tablets and e-readers has been a game changers. It seems that our office was just a little ahead of its time, and now that our practice management software includes support for tablet computers, we have been able to complete our transition to a fully networked, paper free office.
Now that I have been in full time practice as a chiropractor in Seattle for over a decade, I realize how amazing the change from paper files, to computer, to a tablet has been.
The way we now interact with a patient while using a tablet PC has given us the ability to:
1. Easily and comfortably take in patient data.
2. Communicate more effectively with each patient.
3. Accessible and immediate messaging with colleagues and staff.
4. Diagnostic imaging data right in the palm of our hands.
5. Create a stronger relationship with each patient by effectively listening in face to face meetings.
What many health care providers may not realize at this point is that they are now under the gun as they are federally mandated to switch their patient data to Electronic Health Records by 2015. If this forced upgrade to certified Electronic Health Record technology does not occur, they may be fined 1%-5% reimbursement of various health programs available to U.S. citizens. This also means that each hospital, medical clinic, and chiropractic office will face the same communication breakdown that we did.
In a time that many have become used to people multitasking with their smart-phones, iPhones, and iPads, the last this people want is their health care provider doing the same. However, if each professional takes the time to invest in an appropriate tablet, Ipad, or e-reader, the transition can occur without noticeable consequence, and give the patient the face time they so desperately want when they are in need.
About the author:
Dr. Graeme Gibson is currently in full time practice at Queen Anne Chiropractic Center in downtown Seattle, WA. In addition to being a Seattle chiropractor, he loves to spend time with friends, family, and playing sports. If you would like to read more from Dr. Gibson please visit his regularly updated chiropractic blog.