Disclaimer: The following is a composite and fictional experience based on feedback from numerous sources.
I began my new relationship with a doctor in traditional fashion, a phone call placed to schedule an appointment, which seems pretty standard. Then, surprisingly, things changed and I was impressed.
As a healthy person, I must admit that my medical check-ups are few and far between. In other words, I have not been to a doctor’s office in years. I was excited to learn my new doctor’s office was using an Electronic Health Record program for my chart. This gave me comfort just knowing that my doctor uses the latest cutting edge technology to assist with my healthcare. I looked forward to my appointment as I had lots of questions; there have been so many technology changes in the doctor’s office operation.
My experience started during the call with the medical receptionist, who gave me instructions to visit the medical practice’s Patient Portal on their clinic web site. There, I could register my personal and insurance information without having to fill out all that darn paperwork I was expecting. While in the patient portal, I could complete all of my “paperwork”, now in an electronic health format on my time, literally point and click my way through the questionnaire. The receptionist told me the patient portal gave me the benefit of completing the information when it was convenient for me and that I would not be required to come to the clinic 30 minutes in advance a fill out a bunch of forms, while I sit in the lobby watching other people get called in for their appointments (ahead of me). The doctors website had a variety of questions regarding my entire health history and that of my family members directly online. I was told that once I submitted this information, the doctor would review my answers with me during my visit and go over my health. With a single click, she could import the information right into my new chart via the electronic health record. Once that is done, she could quickly retrieve my record and even instantaneously graph my information for comparison and share her findings with me. Knowing this, I felt like a team member in my own health going forward, instead of being just the patient with a chart.
As my appointment date neared, I was happily surprised to receive a text message right to my phone from the doctor’s office. This message was well received because I had forgotten the date and time. I only remembered my appointment was quickly approaching the calendar date. The benefit to me was my appointment confirmation instead of me missing the appointment and needing to request another on a later date and time. The doctor’s office is smart to text reminders to patients like me. I want to make my appointment, but often forget. I confirmed and said “thank you” doc.
On the appointment day, I walked into the lobby expecting to see a bunch of people sitting around looking and acting annoyed, as they would be waiting for their appointment also. However, my experience with this new doctor seemed to be growing more pleasant. The office was clean, without many patients waiting in the lobby and smiles on the faces of the receptionists sitting in the front office. I approached the front desk, looked around, and noticed something strange about this office. I did not see shelves of colored tabs teasing out from thousands of medical record charts, as was the norm in my past visits. I handed the receptionist my identification and she smiled, checked me in, collected my copayment, and asked if I would like a printed copy of my receipt or I could receive the receipt directly to my inbox within my email. I chose the email option, as I didn’t want to keep track of the paper receipt (who does?). The receptionist ensured the doctor was aware of my arrival, and told me the doctor would be with me shortly. Shortly? I wondered what her definition of shortly meant: 15, 30 minutes or more?
I took a seat and prepared myself to get comfortable and wait. Less than five minutes into my wait, I heard my name called from the nurse at the patient’s only door on the other side of the reception desk. I was greeted, again, by a smile and welcome. The nurse asked that I follow her to the patient exam room only after a brief stop at the midpoint to have my height, weight, temperature and blood pressure monitored. I noticed that she was using a handheld device to capture my vital signs. I asked her when she stopped using paper charts and began to use computers, she told me about the transition and the efficiencies gained by the entire team after making the switch about three months ago at the clinic. This is called an EHR, which stands for Electronic Health Record. My experience of the new process was going very well. I was then led down the hallway and brought into the exam room. Within the exam room, the nurse asked me about my reason for visit today, as a confirmation for my being there. I was asked if there was anything else that I might want to discuss with the doctor. She confirmed my current medications and daily intake. “All set,” she said. As she reached for the exam room door handle, she turned back with a smile and said, “The doctor will be right in.”
The doctor gave a quick double knock at the door and entered. She had a very pleasant look and smile, she asked me how my day was going and remarked about my vital signs that were previously taken by the nurse. My doctor seemed very tech savvy and touched a screen or two on her iPad, and instantly had my “chart” in her hands. I asked her what system she was using, as I could see the screen and it caught my attention. She looked and smiled again, saying very prominently PrognoCIS EHR was the EHR Software the practice selected. We chit chatted a few more minutes and she described the process of selection of in her words “so many” to choose from. The workflow of PrognoCIS was the best fit for their clinic because, after looking at quite a few software packages, PrognoCIS had the best user interface. The team could easily pick up a device and begin charting after just a few sessions with the training and implementation team. The doctor told me how the day-to-day operations of the clinic had improved, and she was able to go home at a reasonable hour for the first time ever. I told her that I was interested in developing a better and deeper understanding of EHR, and she agreed to point out some particularly cool features built into PrognoCIS.
Dr. Deshpande looked at my chart and noticed my usage of the clinic’s patient portal, also a part of PrognoCIS, but quickly looked me in the eye and smiled, laughed and called me out about my answers to the portal questions in Spanish. She proclaimed ‘no problem” because one quick touch of the PrognoCIS application, and the Spanish was easily translated into English and populated within my record. Wow, was I impressed by this advance in medical software.
My medical visit encounter continued with a quick review of my medical history, further discussion about my family’s medical history, questions about smoking, diabetes, heart problems, etc. – the standard questions I was expecting. She showed me the dashboard, where a one-click link took her into my various answered questions. We talked about my need for a refill on my prescription. The eRx screen popped up instantaneously and showed me my medication, the different strengths, and dosage amounts. “Watch this,” she said, my medicine was compared to other drug medications and a screen appeared identifying alerts, such as drug-to-drug conflicts, drug-to-allergy and drug-to-disease, which was cool. She told me the alerts are there for my safety and her expertise. I asked about the word expertise she used, she told me that the doctor is ultimately in charge and can override the alert if she wanted to because she knew more than the computer in my case. The part I really liked was when she wrote a prescription refill for me, and asked what pharmacy I would like to use to pick up my prescription. I asked why does this matter? I thought I would just take the prescription and get it filled at the local pharmacy by my house. She again asked the pharmacy name and address. I didn’t know the actual address, but I knew the store well enough to know it was the only one of its kind on my street. To impress me once again, she touched the screen and voila! My prescription was already sent and the pharmacist was notified to begin filling the medication ordered. What, no piece of paper to hold onto and possibly misplace again? Not this time, as my prescription would be ready by the time I got to the pharmacy.
Before the visit was complete, she reassured me that there were many additional features in PrognoCIS that did not apply to me for this initial visit. She said that the next time she would show me some of the exceptional EHR features available. She said things like charting, graphing and comparison of health alerts about my future visits. She also mentioned that one of the benefits of selecting PrognoCIS was the workflow, and that not all screens needed to be touched on every visit, giving her the power to document in her fashion with a customized flow. Some of the other programs seemed to be designed to force the clinic into the EHR vendor’s idea of a patient encounter. No thank you to that. PrognoCIS is the best EHR for a practice in need of smooth, customized templates to maximize the patient visit.
One last request made to me by Dr. Deshpande was some blood work to help establish a baseline and rule out common ailments for a person of my gender and age. I thought that was a good idea, as my health matters to my family and me. She again touched the screen and placed a predetermined laboratory order request with specific tests to be run. I asked her how long until I could call and find out about the lab results. She again looked at me with her warm smile and referred me back to her clinic web site and the PrognoCIS Patient Portal where I could log back in and see my results in a secure environment and the privacy of my home. She also told me that I would find a complete summary of my visit and health educational documents for me to read. The medical education she showed me had health-related history, diagrams, and physical anatomy. I was impressed by the medical clinic and personalization they demonstrated.
I must admit my visit to the doctor’s office was an experience to remember, and it was excellent because of the doctor’s bedside manner and willingness to discuss my health person-to-person. I remember the “old days” of a doctor’s office visit, with paper charts scattered all over the office. The clinic staff looked tired and drained of energy due to always being in search of a patient’s record. The phone was always ringing during my check-in, and, the receptionists were constantly interrupted by pharmacies, other doctors’ offices, and patients in need of appointments and lab results. This new style of medical office using an EHR is nice and convenient.
I researched EHR when I returned home and looked up PrognoCIS. I learned that PrognoCIS is a highly rated and certified EHR program. The company is based in San Jose, CA, which I know as the Silicon Valley. This is impressive to me and I am glad that my doctor chose PrognoCIS. There are so many choices for EHRs on the Internet, and I think, based on my experience, my doctor was wise to choose PrognoCIS.
Author: Chris Ferguson