Using SmartDraw, Consultant Helps Doctors Visualize their Perfect Electronic Medical Records System

Using SmartDraw, Consultant Helps Doctors Visualize their Perfect Electronic Medical Records System
Figure 1. This is a sample of how a new patient portal can save a
physician practice thousands of hours of time by completing
forms securely online and updating both the patient and the referring
physician automatically. RSES' EMR portal implementation process
cuts process time from 4 hours to 15 minutes.

RSES Consulting helps small to mid-sized medical practices get the most value from the newest technology by analyzing their needs, testing electronic medical records (EMR) solutions, and then recommending the best EMR system for them. Using SmartDraw to visually map out the workflow of a practice, RSES not only finds the right system for them as it maps their practice patterns, but it often discovers ways in which the practice can achieve additional efficiencies, increase revenue, maximize time management and improve the overall quality of care they provide.

In 2009, the US Government began urging the medical community to adopt EMRs in earnest. Although stimulus money incentives were provided for hospitals and health systems to do so, medical practices, for the most part, had to choose to make this significant investment on their own. Today, buying the right EMR system remains a major monetary investment as well as a daunting task for overstretched medical practice staff and physicians.

According to Ron Spiegel, owner of consulting firm RSES, "small to mid-sized medical practices need to find the right technology to mesh with their processes, and they also need the right people to analyze the need, the current technological status of the practice, the changes an EMR solution will bring and teach them how to use it all."

Ron estimates that less than 10 percent of doctors in medical practices purchase EMR systems currently; many aren't using EMR systems at all because the complexity of doing so can be daunting. Ron's firm steps in to simplify the process from start to finish and guide those doctors to the path of least resistance as well as to the highest and fastest return on their investment.

And that, says Ron, is no small task.

"Moving a doctor's style of working away from paper to EMR is one of the toughest challenges doctors may face in their career," says Ron.

However, it is one that has made his firm's services very popular among physician groups.

A Critical 3-Day Examination Yields an $89,000 Gain

RSES begins the process by analyzing the workflow of the practice.

"I usually work at the practice for three days to see exactly how they work. I'm one of the staff, I move the papers, I make copies. I want to see how much burden people in the practice put on their own work processes that can be eliminated. So far, it's 60-80 percent," notes Ron. "I usually find that if you let 50 percent of the staff go, practices will maintain the same level of service. Obviously, this points to inefficiencies in their processes."

Ron then simplifies the practice's processes for them.

"Using SmartDraw, I start with a mind map and then create a chart of the current situation. This allows everyone to 'see' where the bottlenecks are, where there are redundancies and how, by using practical solutions, to eliminate wasted effort."

At a recent physician practice, Ron's group was able to track how many pieces of paper were used for superfluous photocopying per year.

"I was able to show them ways in which their processes were needlessly costing them money and suggested they save paper, toner, and electricity by doing certain jobs online. Using SmartDraw, I created a flow chart for them that showed how the elimination of certain tasks would save $89,000 just on paper. That was very striking for them."

SmartDraw Brings EMR to Life

After the practice understands their processes (and after they often change their workflow processes for the better), Ron's group is ready to recommend an EMR package to help the practice maintain regulatory compliance, save money, and save time.

"I create an EMR manual for them showing the improved new processes that I recommend," notes Ron. "I tell them how to use the system, what it will take to convert current patient records, how the billing system should integrate. All of these instructions are created using SmartDraw."

According to Ron, the process from analysis to system integration is a long one, taking from eight months to several years.

"Having their processes displayed before them in SmartDraw charts really helps, though. The eye catches images more than text. The physicians and their staff remember more from the charts. They can always go back to page 4, for example, and look at the chart to see where they are in a process and I believe adopt the new system sooner."

Ron jokes that he refers to his SmartDraw software as his 'geek set of tools.'

"SmartDraw is the emergency set of tools that I carry with me all the time. Whenever I'm with a client, instead of making everything overly technical, I can make it easy for them to understand."