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PT and the City

New Software

Published September 15, 2011 5:34 PM by Lisa West

Yesterday I spent the entire day at a training session for a new software system. Starting in November, we will transition to software that allows better documentation for both outpatient and inpatient and is used widely across many hospitals in Wisconsin. There are many similarities between the current system we use and the new one - in application, layout and ease of use, but until the new system is completely running, it's hard to say too much about it.

It was interesting for me - we spent seven hours in the classroom practicing different tasks and I still don't feel extremely comfortable. There are a lot of places where information is better organized, and the flow seems a little more natural than the system we currently use. Using our current system is almost second nature; I can click on things or add details to a note without even thinking. But, now everything requires attention. I'm lucky, too, because computer training is relatively easy for me. I know there are a lot of people who struggle with using a computer. I'm hoping once I learn the software well enough, I'll be able to help my coworkers if they need it.

I remember practicing SOAP notes when I was in school, and my classmates and I would wonder if any clinic really still used paper documenting. We were of the generation of cell phones, Facebook, instant messaging... and imagining a company that didn't keep up with technological advances was a foreign concept to us. But as an employee now, I can see why it's easier to keep what works. If it ain't broke, don't fix it, right? It takes a lot of resources to overhaul an entire documentation system, and there are situations where a simpler system is easier. Sometimes it's hard to document within the template of the software system, like when I need more space to describe a patient's function but I've hit the maximum amount of "characters."

Going through the training process reminds me of how important it is to make good decisions about all the things that make a PT facility run smoothly, whether the clinic is part of a bigger health care system or not. Budgeting for software, computer systems and billing can be very expensive and needs to result in more efficient work to be worth the investment of time and money.

Have you ever made the decision to change part of your software system, or any part of IT for your clinic? What are the advantages and disadvantages of upgrading to a new provider? Do you prefer paper documentation over a computer-based system?

4 comments

My company recently switched to a computer documentation system.  I always wanted to use a computer based system because I thought it would be quicker and neater and easier to use once you were familiar with it.  Well, I was wrong.  The system or internet was down frequently and we were told we would have to document on our own time.  The company purchased mini laptops causing poor posture and aches/pains for the PTs.  The IT department we needed to call was inefficient.  The program was poorly designed and not easy to move from one place to the next.  Thousands of clicks...leading to wrist soreness and fatigue.  A lot of repetitive information.  The program did not make documents clear and concise.  I thought with practice I would be able to decrease the personal time I spent doing documentation, but I was still working almost 10 hours extra a week because of the program.

Pat October 4, 2011 11:27 PM

I trained clinicians in a "home grown" system at my last job in NY. It took most people 3 months to feel comfortable with it, some much longer, but it reduced documentation errors immensely!

Imagine then when I came to the UK and returned to paper notes! Writing out longhand everything that used to be a click or check box. We're supposed to be going electronic "soon". I will probably be retired by then. I really wish I could go back to electronic records!

Dean Metz September 17, 2011 2:28 PM

I'm sure you will be a much utilized resource as your colleagues transition to the new system.  

My husband's company recently changed to the ipad for all presentations the sales force makes.  The day after their "training" he spoke to two younger colleagues who complained about not being able to get any work done, because their phones were ringing off the hook from older associates seeking help from their presumed technosavvy young colleagues!  

What's funny is one of them couldn't even provide help - he actually ended up calling my husband because he knew we had two teenagers in our home.  Too bad for him we were in the car - alone!

The masses just assumed youth was the go to for advice on the technology change.  Get ready to offer your wisdom!

Janey Goude September 16, 2011 3:26 AM

With a limited number of computers at a work site someone has to sit and wait for one.  That is when the paper documentation comes in handy.  After being trained on 3 documentation systems I can see the benefits such as acess to data on the patient, ease of reading and limiting denials by including everything about the patient.  I doubt if the SOAP format will ever go by the wayside because all it takes is a power failure and the computers are useless.

Jason September 15, 2011 11:05 PM

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