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Thinking Outside the EHR Box

Electronic Health Records (EHRs) will undoubtedly improve care once we navigate the long and winding road of how to implement them. One way to make the journey easier is to realize that there will be workflows at medical practices, hospitals and labs that simply will not fit into stringent EHR systems.

Don Fluckinger, a writer at, does a great job at pointing this out in an article (Moving paper EHR processes to electronic medical forms) where he cites a PerfectForms customer, the State of Oregon’s Office of Long Term Care Ombudsman, as an example.

Fluckinger writes: “Every office workflow has its quirks (read: nonstandard processes). These include intake; discharge; billing information handoff; personal health record, or PHR, request; reporting; specialist patient referral — or some other real-world information-routing scenario a vendor cannot anticipate when it programs an EHR system. To solve those quirks, electronic medical forms can provide on-ramps for EHR processes into the EHR system for data presently typed or transcribed in.”

Oregon’s Long Term Care office is doing exactly that. Bill Bard, a Certified Ombudsman who volunteers to advocate on behalf of the state’s elderly, used PerfectForms to completely revamp how the agency collects and reports data. He transformed a paper-based process – where forms would be completed by hand, passed to office staff, and manually keyed into a database – into a streamlined, automated process. If one man volunteering his time can have such a positive impact on an organization, possibilities abound for other healthcare organizations as they realize the power of easy-to-use online forms.

(For more information about Bill Bard and Oregon’s Office of Long Term Care, check out this press release issued on May 6, 2010.)

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