Dr. Woodruff Discusses Selecting an EHR System
Dr. Mark Woodruff is a family doctor at Southwest Family Physicians , a two-physician practice in Omaha, Nebraska. Southwest Family Physicians has been serving the Omaha area since 1959, and in 2009 Dr. Woodruff and his partner Dr. William Weeks decided to implement an electronic health record (EHR).
Selecting an EHR System That Is Right for the Practice
For Southwest Family Physicians, the first step was selecting an EHR system. With so many options available, Dr. Woodruff acknowledges he was at a loss, totally unsure which EHR to select. To help his practice narrow the choices and identify the right EHR system for the practice, Dr. Woodruff started with three simple questions:
- What do we need?
- How much can we spend?
- What kind of support can we expect from EHR vendors?
To help answer these questions, Dr. Woodruff sought out help. He collaborated with Wide River Technology Extension Center , the local Regional Extension Center in Nebraska. He also began attending seminars and reading booklets offered by the Nebraska Hospital Association about how to be smart while selecting an EHR system. After Dr. Woodruff and his practice identified an EHR system they wanted to evaluate further, the EHR vendor referred their team to a practice in Lincoln, Nebraska that was already using the system. “If a company can’t give you a referral to view their product in action, you should probably think twice about their system,” says Dr. Woodruff. During the site visit, the team was able to see the EHR fully implemented and get input from providers actively using the system.
Through this detailed and pragmatic approach to selecting an EHR system, Dr. Woodruff and Southwest Family Physicians selected the right EHR for their practice and are “very happy” with their decision.
Improved Work-Life Balance and Health Care Quality
For Dr. Woodruff, the biggest benefit of EHRs is the instant and reliable access to patient information. “It may seem like a small thing, but never losing a chart, never looking for a chart, never having to wait for a chart, never fighting over a chart, and therefore always having immediate access to any and all patient information is a tremendous time saver and stress reliever,” notes Dr. Woodruff. With more and easier access to patient information, Dr. Woodruff is able to leave the office and make it to family activities on time. “Our system is accessible remotely, so I can finish my last few charts at home after dinner or a soccer game,” adds Dr. Woodruff. Using an EHR has also improved the quality of care delivered in his practice. With remote access, Dr. Woodruff can handle on-call admissions and other issues more efficiently and effectively. Dr. Woodruff explains, “Our EHR makes me more confident that important information about my patients is not slipping through the cracks.”
Drs. Woodruff and Weeks were among the first providers in Nebraska to attest to meaningful use. On July 15, 2011, Dr. Woodruff and his partner received their first EHR incentive payments; they received their second payments in March 2013.
Southwest Family Physicians plans to continue to leverage health IT to improve health care quality. Dr. Woodruff and Southwest Family Physicians are preparing for meaningful use Stage 2 and are excited to begin using their EHR for quality improvement and clinical research. “We continue to learn new ways to maximize our use of our EHR,” adds Dr. Woodruff.