Philosophically, the move to electronic health records (EHR) was an easy one for Payson Physical Therapy owner Scott Nossek, PT. He and 2 other therapists provide sports training, performance enhancement, and physical therapy services in Payson, Ariz. “We were all comfortable with computers and we knew EHR was the wave of the future,” Nossek says. “The fact that we could eliminate transcription made the cost of EHR a wash for us.” However, the first “system” he implemented wasn’t a system at all. “Basically we had 2 separate software programs — one for billing and another for documentation — that communicated with each other via importing and exporting. Trying to get these programs to work together was cumbersome and the vendor wasn’t very responsive when we had problems,” he says. Files would get corrupted during the import/export process, resulting in data loss and frequent down time. Frustrated by lack of access to his records, Nossek started looking for new software.
The Solution: Improve Reliability with an Integrated, Customizable EHR System
We chose Compulink’s Physical Therapy AdvantageTM because all the features we wanted were tightly integrated into a single system that didn’t crash or corrupt our files,” says Nossek. “When you start keeping all of your patient documentation electronically, that becomes pretty critical.”
In addition to basic stability, Nossek says, “The best thing about Compulink is our ability to customize it and really make it ours. Like any PT clinic, we have our own areas of specialization and preferences for how we want to document our services. Compulink lets us be as creative and individual as we want.”
Fellow therapist and IT expert Jared Tenney, PT, has done most of the customization, personalizing each therapist’s fields and drop-down lists and even creating custom exercise flow sheets. But where they most appreciate the system’s flexibility is in customizing letters to referral sources. “There is tremendous variety in what we want to convey and what information local doctors want to receive from us. We are keenly aware of this, so the ability to tailor evaluation notes to specific referral sources has been great,” Nossek says.
The Result: More Comprehensive Notes, More Time with Patients
As a result of that customizability, Payson Physical Therapy’s EHR screens are designed for efficiency. “I spend about the same amount of time on documentation as I did a few years ago, but the difference is that my electronic SOAP notes are far more detailed and comprehensive,” says Nossek. “With paper charts, I tended to write quick, cryptic notes that were not in any way reflective of what I was doing in the clinic.” And he’s convinced that would have had to change, given the current health care environment. “I would have been forced to dedicate more time to note-taking, and that would have meant time away from what I really enjoy — working with patients.” Nossek says switching to E-claims and electronic remittances through Compulink has had major benefits for the office, too. “We get reimbursed much faster with less administrative effort on our part,” he says.
Pearls for Success
Nossek advises other physical therapists in the market for new EHR and practice management software to consider stability — of both the vendor and the software. “I think it’s important to consider how long the company has been in business and how financially stable they are before you commit to what is essentially a partnership with them,” he says. He also recommends getting a solid grasp on the company’s post-implementation policies. “You need to know whether and how you’ll be charged for upgrades and technical support. Get names of current customers and call them to ask about downtime and support response time,” he advises.