OrthoMemphis Setting the Pace Technologically

With a view to improving patient care and practice efficiency through the use of technology, physicians at OrthoMemphis are setting the pace for other practices to follow.

Two physicians at the orthopedics practice in particular, Jeff Cole and Timothy Krahn, have been heavily involved in researching and designing systems to further the use of electronic medical records within the practice.  In the last five years, OrthoMemphis has invested more than $2 million in technology.  With practice physicians ranging in age from 35-64, the organization ensures everyone is able to access and use the latest technology.  Cole’s motivation in researching all forms of electronic data systems was partly personal.  “I was dragging home charts on weekends and ruining entire weekends or nights with work,” Cole says.  “With 20 years of practice ahead of me, I thought there is no way to continue at this pace.”  Cole researched the entire electronic medical records market and found existing software lacked the functionality needed at the physician level.

His search led him to Nova Business Systems in St. Louis where Cole began collaborating with the company as the primary physician in developing ClinicSuite, a software application that generates and routes electronic forms throughout the practice.  ClinicSuite is a module specific to orthopedic surgery.  It is an add-on solution that sits on top of other primary platforms used within OrthoMemphis.

The program offers an interactive electronic environment that includes features such as a patient questionnaire.  The software replaces paper by creating electronic forms that are routed throughout the clinic to specific work queues such as scheduling or for an MRI requisition.  Cole is part of a small subset of physicians who have been using ClinicSuite for more than two years.  Preliminary results show significant savings on transcription costs.  “Just in 24 months, we have saved approximately $55,000 on in-house transcription expenses,” Cole says.  Krahn has been with OrthoMemphis for 14 years and has witnessed the evolution of technology within the practice.  Involved with SRS, a practice management software that generates electronic patient records, Krahn believes OrthoMemphis is leading in one particular area.  “We’re not unique from other practices who may have (electronic medical records), but we have gone to the next step by outfitting all 60 exam rooms with a computer.”

Eliminating the need for physicians to spend time tracking down paper work, the system improves patient care simply by allowing patients more time with their physician.  Additionally, the time spent pulling charts has been drastically reduced.  With eight doctors at OrthoMemphis seeing an average of 320 patients per day, the practice pulled over 400 charts each day.  “None of that has to be done anymore,” Krahn says.  “We’ve not only reduced staffing needs by three full-time positions, but we have saved anywhere from $60,000 to $90,000 per year in storage fees.”  Krahn also reports more benefits.  Fewer X-ray technicians are needed, all doctors can use the system, and doctors can send charts electronically with personal messages attached.  Patients can also view X-rays with their doctor in the exam room and even take a CD home.  OrthoMemphis has hosted a steady stream of visitors who are interested in learning more.  “The company brings people to town because we’ve really used the system extensively and more than expected,” Krahn says.

Karen Mayer

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