Going paperless at your medical practice can be both exciting and daunting without the right guidance and support. In this case study, Independent practitioner, Dr Daniel Israel, shared his insights into what it takes to become a digital practice and the challenges and benefits of going paperless.
Tell us how you made the decision to go paperless?
My decision to establish a digital practice had a lot to do with my experience working as a locum in a group practice. It was a traditional paper-based practice with which so many of us are all familiar. There were thousands of paper files in huge filing cabinets – and often more than one file per patient because of the old-time problem of files getting lost and misplaced. The inefficiencies of paper were so ‘normal’ that it was not a priority to make a digital switch – even though digital was gaining more traction.
When I started my own practice in 2011/12, it was a brand-new practice and it didn’t make sense to start off as a paper-based practice and migrate later.
What were some of the challenges you faced?
As doctors, we don’t always know where to start when it comes to finding a digital solution. There were lots of different variations of software available and, at that stage, I felt I still needed to explore what would be the best choice for my practice.
I started off using a digital note-taking solution that ran off an iPad and would save my notes to the device’s hard drive. It had its limitations, but I immediately saw the value in working digitally. There were no paper files, filing cabinets, staff to manage the files – it was all stored on the device.
What would you say to doctors who are considering going paperless?
My advice is shaped by my experience. The single most important thing I did was to talk to my colleagues who had already migrated. It was useful to get their insights and ideas about what I needed to implement. First-hand experience can be really useful when it comes to which software to choose.
I was currently exploring another solution when I came across Healthbridge’s My DrApp – as it was known then. It was a web-based app, in which I could type my notes into a simple interface that was then stored in the cloud.
For me, the beauty of the Healthbridge system was that it wasn’t dependent on using a specific device – it was device agnostic, and so I could access and take notes from my phone, laptop or any device, from any location.
What were some of the immediate benefits to your practice?
My practice is contracted to medical aids and we use a switch to submit claims. So, as many of us do, in the past at the end of every day, I would review my notes and put the ICD/claims codes through the switch to the medical aids.
But I soon discovered that on the Healthbridge system, I could go about making my notes and as I clicked on diagnosis, the system would automatically pull through the correct ICD-10 codes. I could close the consult without having to go back and re-enter information as a separate input. It was a seamless, time-saving process and this is what really compelled me to keep using the solution. This was the largest tangible gain for my practice. The admin burden was reduced for my staff and for myself. We didn’t have to do the billing separately because it was already done as a ‘by-product’ of note-taking. Since then, there have been numerous developments added, giving even more benefit to users.
Can you tell us a bit more about that?
The solution has continuously evolved to make it easier to manage chronic patients, track vitals, send SMS and email reminders to patients. It’s also simple and efficient to write motivation letters, referrals and sick notes. You’re able to do real-time benefit checks to see if the patients have funds available and there are a number of other features that doctors in private practice use daily.
I don’t have any commercial interest in Healthbridge, but I was one of a number of doctors who consulted its team about the functionality doctors need. To Healthbridge’s credit, their solution is a great example of clinician-led design. It wasn’t a case of people who aren’t clinical telling us what we needed. It was a collaborative approach to designing medical software that is genuinely clinically astute.
As you know, Healthbridge Clinical is the latest version of the solution that seamlessly integrates clinical and billing processes to create one robust end-to-end solution. Tell us about your experience.
Throughout all of the software development, one thing that Healthbridge has managed to preserve is the simplicity of the system. A doctor at any level of experience and proficiency with medical software can easily use the system and derive value from it. Practices that want to delve into reporting can do so, others that simply want to use the system to communicate with patients can do so. It is user friendly and easy-to-use.
You are one of the pioneer users of Healthbridge’s Telehealth functionality. Anything you want to share with us before closing?
As with the rest of the solution, the new Telehealth capabilities are absolutely easy-to-use and now especially relevant, given the current outbreak of COVID-19 and its social distancing implications. While I haven’t experienced all the software solutions available on the market, I have seen my fair share, and Healthbridge comes out on top because of its simplicity, mobility and user experience. It’s been an asset to my business, and I can safely say that I’d never consider going back to any paper-based practice.
To find out how you can successfully take your practice paperless, click here to request a call back from one of our skilled Business Consultants.