Ohio Valley Colon & Rectal Surgeons
When Dr. Steve Wiley of Ohio Valley Colon & Rectal Surgeons decided make the leap into electronic health records, he encountered a problem: there were no EHR packages on the market designed specifically for colorectal practices. Gastroenterology practices have similar charting needs, but colo-rectal specialists need more specialized terminology, greater specificity in the patient history, and accommodation for more in-office procedures. Therefore, Dr. Wiley decided his biggest priority would be finding a system that could be customized to his needs.
After testing several systems, the practice selected the Aprima EHR and finished the implementation in May 2011. Dr. Wiley and his staff of eight were quickly able to customize Aprima to work exactly the way they want. Charting visits is faster and more convenient than on paper, transcription costs have shrunk to almost nothing, and individualized referral letters are a cinch to generate.
Practice Manager Caroline Beckwith appreciates the way Aprima brings all of the practice’s tasks into one smooth, connected, efficient workflow. Beyond charting, there are many other efficiencies that Aprima has brought to the office. “The patient visit was the easy part,” Beckwith says. “It’s all the other stuff that really makes a difference.”
First Goal: Flexibility
Without an existing colo-rectal specialty EHR, Dr. Wiley knew he would have to find a system that could be molded into one. It needed to be Windowsbased so he could make changes easily. And it needed to be efficient and convenient to use.
Dr. Wiley chose Aprima on the strength of its functionality and usability. Unlike many others, Aprima allowed him to move through patient charts quickly. “It takes less clicks to get where you want,” says Beckwith. “Some of the other systems made you click through many screens to get where you need to be.”
One of the first things the doctor did during the demonstration was to test drug names and specialized terminology he often uses. Aprima’s knowledge base was rich enough to recognize these words and easy to expand and customize. Later, during implementation, Dr. Wiley himself added all the terminology, conditions, alleviating factors, and specialty drugs he needs.
Aprima is flexible enough to allow Dr. Wiley to start a patient visit, not from a chief complaint the way a primary care physician would, but from a diagnosis. As a specialist, Dr. Wiley sees patients who arrive with a referral and a diagnosis. That’s no problem for the Aprima EHR.
Not long after the implementation began, the doctor and his staff went live and are now comfortable and fast working in the system.
Second Goal: Efficiency
It was just as important for Ohio Valley Colon & Rectal to see improvements outside the exam room. Beckwith notes that, in its first year using Aprima, the practice staff have saved many hours they used to spend pulling, filing, and searching for patient charts.
“It’s not just the time,” she observes. “Aprima allowed us to eliminate a lot of physical mess. We’re now the cleanest office I’ve ever seen.”
The paper Ohio Valley has eliminated isn’t all paper charts, either. The referral letters they send, compared to the ones they receive from primary care doctors, save about five reams of paper every month.
The referral letters are one of Beckwith’s favorite Aprima advantages. The letters are set up through “document generation,” which allows them to format the letters like they want and then automatically pull tagged information for each one. The result is an easy-to-produce, succinct, one- or two-page letter that contains all the relevant information and nothing else.
“We send about 80 letters a week back to referring physicians, so Aprima’s ability to generate referral letters quickly is a huge advantage. It generates one or two pages with just the relevant data, instead of forcing us to print the whole chart. It’s very nicely done.”
By comparison, the referral letters the practice receives from primary care physicians using other EHR systems run six to ten pages and often include the entire patient chart.
More than a year after installing the Aprima EHR, Dr. Wiley and Beckwith are very happy with their decision. They’ve been able to turn a very flexible EHR into a system that perfectly suits their narrow specialty of colo-rectal treatment and surgery, speeds up charting, and makes everyday tasks more convenient.
Expenses are down in several categories: they eliminated 0.4 FTE of staff time, and almost eliminated their previous $500-600/month transcription bill. (Last month’s charges totaled $13.) And, of course, chart supplies and printing are a thing of the past.
Financial reasons may have motivated Ohio Valley Colon & Rectal to invest in an EHR, but by choosing Aprima, the practice has gained much more than that.