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?