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Reavis Eubanks, MD, defies the odds when it comes to giving up his paper charts and adopting an electronic medical record system. First, solo doctors, by many accounts, have a tough time making the transition; there’s no IT personnel on staff to guide them and to troubleshoot, and then there’s the issue of cost.
On top of that, Eubanks is 66 – lumped among the physicians often portrayed as headstrong, set in their ways, impervious to change.
[See also: Three solo doctors offer tips on meaningful use.]
Any concerns about Stage 2?
“No,” he said. “It looks to me like things a good physician should be doing anyway.”
Eubanks started his practice in Asheville, N.C. as a general surgeon. In 2010 he stopped doing surgery. Today, he runs a general practice, assists with surgeries and teaches residents in an OB/GYN program.
Here are five reasons Eubanks says he’s pleased with his switch to digital records:
- The EMR is something new. “I didn’t worry about the challenge of computers. As surgeons, you know, we like to take up new things. It was lots of fun in the late ’80s when we had laparoscopy come out. It was a new thing that we could learn to do, so I kind of viewed electronic medical records in a similar fashion – a new challenge, something new to do. That was a great deal of looking forward to it.
- Better communication. “I must confess, I really did not know how much better [things would be] with communication and all that kind of stuff. I didn't envision that electronic records would be as beneficial to me as they have been. For my patients I can get information to somebody I’m referring them to very quickly.
- Submitting claims. “Having had 30 years of frustration with insurances, the fact that (the EMR) had a rules engine that would help you from the very outset be sure that your claim was a clean as possible going in was another tremendous factor for me.”
- Documentation. “Basically, most of the things I was being asked to do for meaningful use I had always done. It was just a question of having a nice way to document that and then present it back to the appropriate people that you’ve met those criteria.”
- Patient engagement. “They very much appreciated getting a patient encounter summary, which I never realized patients would like that. To get something that summarizes what you did and what the game plan is in writing was very nice. And the other thing for meaningful use is to communicate lab results. Now many times I would call the patient with lab results, but again to have a system that all you have to do is click on a little button that says “print out a normal lab letter” and they get a letter that comes out or email, whichever they choose, that includes not only the lab results, but also an explanation, that’s also made a difference to them.