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Four Reasons PTs Should Ditch the Pen & Paper And Get an EMRToday’s blog post comes from WebPT copywriters Charlotte Bohnett and Erica Cohen.

Paper shredding, filing, shuffling, stacking. Basically, there’s nothing appealing about paper documentation, especially if it’s a quagmire of quarrelsome patient charts—handwritten, faded, and sharp as all get out—just waiting to wreak havoc on your soft, supple paper-cut-fearing fingers.

And don’t even get us started on ink stains. Of course, there are reasons beyond paper cuts and ruined shirts to ditch the pen and paper, and go digital with Electronic Medical Records (EMR). Here are four of ‘em.

1.) Service

This one is two-fold. Digital documentation not only empowers you to provide far superior service to your patients, but EMR systems give you much better customer service than stacks of paper, illegible handwriting, and wonky Word templates. 

Let’s start with your service. Because EMRs, specifically cloud-based ones, allow you to document anywhere, anytime from any mobile-enabled device, you can chart more efficiently, allowing you more free time to devote to your patients. Plus, with an EMR, there is no misplacing of charts or brow furrowing over illegible marks. You can easily access and review data, so you devote more time to treatment rather than mind-refreshing questions.

As for customer service on the EMR company’s end, you have an entire team of tech wizards who got your back. You’re not relying solely on your own paperwork. EMRs have alerts and measures in place to help you document defensibly, and the crème de la crème of EMRs (*cough* WebPT) offer customization options, so you can tailor your documentation to your clinic’s needs. Oh, and their support team is always at the ready to help you learn or relearn anything technological. Your piles o’ paper can’t do that.

2.) Organization

You may remember the towering stacks of paper we described in our introduction. If your inbox is overflowing, your desk is a mess, and your filing cabinets feel like they’re multiplying, it’s probably beginning to impact your productivity (and your sanity). Kill the clutter and get your space—and your life!—back.

By transitioning all your documentation into a digital system, you can feng shui the heck out of your newly open office. Plus, you’ll be able to find all the information you could ever need—about your clinic, your staff, your patients, your plans of care, your productivity—anytime, anywhere with the touch of a button (and no risk of paper cut).

3.) Accountability

As mentioned above, most EMRs have a handful of alerts in place to make sure you document defensibly. Can paper do that? We didn’t think so. In a perfect world, we wouldn’t need alerts; we wouldn’t need reminders; and we certainly wouldn’t need sleep. But we’re human. And last time we checked, therapists’ caseloads weren’t getting any smaller. So, we make mistakes; we forget things; and we get overwhelmed. With digital documentation, everything is there that you need to cover documentation-wise, replete with alerts and rubrics—not to dictate your documentation, but to help you stay compliant.

EMRs also increase accountability because they don’t allow for the deletion of notes. That’s a big no-no in the realm of documentation, and if you’re ever audited, you’ll be thankful your EMR empowered you to create an addendum, rather than crumple up the paper and pitch it.

4.) Professionalism

Rehab therapy is a competitive profession; we know, which is all the more reason why first impressions matter. This goes for your website, your business cards, your office, and your documentation. What image do you project when you’re flipping through crumpled, barely legible patient charts (in front of a patient) to refresh yourself on last session’s goal? Or when you spend ten minutes hunting around your front desk to locate a new pen because yours ran out of ink? Not only will an EMR allow you to enter, track, and find all your documentation in an incredibly organized and professional manner, you can access it on any device—and we hear patients just love seeing their practitioner work off an iPad.

And, if most of your business is generated through physician referrals, then make every interaction count. EMRs not only allow you to electronically (and speedily!) interact with physicians (who are all mandated to use EMRs by 2014), but also enable you to brand your notes with your clinic logo, so not only will they appear neat, clean, and legible, but they’ll also proudly display your brand for the world to see—a great way to stay top of mind.

Did you catch our clever (super subtle) acronym above? Service, Organization, Accountability, and Professionalism spell SOAP—as in SOAP notes, the backbone of your documentation and the main reason why you should ditch the pen and paper and go digital with EMR. Because SOAP notes can and should be simpler, faster, cleaner, more legible, and overall, better. Isn’t it time you upped your clinic’s game?

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