an insider's look at digitizing medical records for physicians

For The Love of Paper

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Do you love paper?

Are you struggling with paper dependency?

What is it about paper that makes doctors feel so comfortable?  Here are some of the most common things we here from doctors who tend to justify their attachment to paper…

  1.  “Paper copies aren’t more secure.  “

Yes, we can hold a paper document in our hands and file cabinets don’t freeze or crash.  But consider what happens to paper in a flood or fire… or the faded thermal fax!  Now consider the digital file located in a crashed computer system…saved by the backup held offsite.  And consider the searchable electronic record which allows you to find all the historical platelet counts at a glance or the exact details of a historical surgery in 3 seconds.  While no record keeping system is infallible, the move to digital is a step in the right direction and should be part of every practice that is concerned with sustainability.

  1.  “My office staff doesn’t understand the

Rome wasn’t built in a day.  It’s true that rolling out an electronic platform does indeed  require an investment of time and sometimes a rather steep learning curve for some.  But if you do convert your paper documents to electronic format, you’ll also have the benefit of re-examining your internal processes… and that’s a good thing, which almost always lends itself to improvement.  There is a tendancy to stick to the status quo for comfort reasons. Don’t be afraid to shake it up a bit. Almost every challenge presents new opportunities.

  1.  “We need a real signature”

There are several legislative bodies that can help clarify how and when digital signatures are appropriate to use.  Canadian law distinguishes between the generic “electronic signature” and the “secure electronic signature,” and this is covered by  PIPEDA .  Federal secure electronic signature regulations make it clear that a secure electronic signature is a digital signature created and verified in a specific manner.  Canada’s Evidence Act contains evidentiary presumptions about both the integrity and validity of electronic documents and of the authenticity of the secure electronic signatures themselves.  See also the Initiatives created by the Uniform Law Conference of Canada, which aims to modernize Canadian  civil and criminal law.

Bottom line is:  physicans will eventually have no choice but to be on an Electronic Medical Record (EMR) system.

  1. “We’ve always done it this way.”

How dare we question the wisdom of our predecessors!  It was good enough for them!  You’re not a team player!   We can only hope that you don’t subscribe to
any of the above logic.   Yes, change can be scary, but more and more often now, clinging to the status quo is simply not an option.  Bill Gates aptly proclaimed that “We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten. Don’t let yourself be lulled into inaction.”

  1.  “It’s expensive to build an electronic infrastructure”

Even though provincial programs are available for  EMR funding,  there are still expenses you’ll need to incur eventually.  However, the consequences of ignoring the trends in health care can be significant.  Consider the experience of music retailer HMV,  which struggles to remain relevant despite the loss of its core business – music – to online retailer iTunes.  Blockbuster also didn’t recognize that the future lay in downloading movies, and their bricks-and-mortar operation couldn’t adapt quickly.  We do see some of the same trends in healthcare.  The kindly sole practitioner who once made housecalls with his black doctor’s bag in tow, has already been replaced by larger health teams, walk-in clinics, and practitioners who use social media, mobile apps, and nurse practitioners.

Call us at 1-888-563-3732 to quote on your scanning project.  RSRS will work closely with you to understand your paperless goals, and make recommendations based on our  experience with clients in virtually every business and professional sector.

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