Carnegie Hill Pediatrics is a 5 pediatrician group on the east-side of Manhattan. The practice was first established in 1988 and has been growing ever since. Staff consists of five medical assistants (one is assigned to the lab), 4 receptionists, an assistant Office Manager and an Office Manager, and a part-time employee who is responsible for scanning labs, consult letters, and old charts into the computer system. Carnegie Hill Pediatrics has been using Office Practicum since 2003.
“Initially we had a computer program (Physicians Office Manager) just for billing/accounts receivable and demographic information. We started looking at new computer systems [and] once we began thinking about a new system, I became interested in EHR. It seemed the way of the future and offered many advantages.
“We had a budget of about $80,000 for hardware and software and automatically cut any vendor who was over $100,000. When we got down to the few finalists (we saw these programs more than once, checked out references, etc.), we tried to compare apples to apples. Of course, this was very difficult, since some of the companies don’t break down all the expenses. We considered not only cost of the software, but also cost and amount of training. Would they support our hardware? How much were hardware and software fees? If there were problems, who would be coming to fix them and where would they be coming from? How many pediatricians were using the program? Was the program pediatric-friendly? How was the billing program? How were telephone messages handled? We rejected one program because it didn’t have a way of tracking the vaccines given. We were about to sign another vendor when we asked and discovered that the program couldn’t generate a camp form, even though they originally claimed that it could.”
Adapting to Office Practicum:
“It is a year since we installed Office Practicum. The switchover has been a lot of work. The biggest tasks for me were reviewing the templates and phrase construction areas and customizing them just right for me, but it is pretty easy to learn how to do this. Entering the important data on each patient (major illnesses, allergies, checking that the vaccines are entered correctly) took a few minutes for an infant and up to 10-15 minutes for a teenager who has had many problems. Now, just about every one of my patients is in the system and it has made life very easy.
“The training from the staff of Office Practicum was excellent. I did much of my training over the Internet. This made it possible for me to take an hour of training at home, or on the weekends. The trainers know the program very well and can come up with creative ways to get the program to do something you need that may not have been done before. I didn’t take all my training in the beginning. I continued to take an hour periodically as I started using more and more of the features of the program. The more I use the program the more I like it and the more I think, ‘Boy, they thought of everything when they wrote Office Practicum.'”
Using Office Practicum:
“We use just about every aspect of the program. Office Practicum is a pediatric program and everything was set up for pediatricians (not internists and surgeons) already. The vaccines were not only lined-up in the proper spaces for easy viewing, but the program tells you what vaccines are due. The templates for many conditions were already created. The local school forms were already scanned in and stored in the program and when you print one, the data (patient name, birth date, vaccines, Hct, Lead, Urine-analysis, etc.) print exactly in the right place on the generated form. Growth charts are incorporated into the program and you can automatically place a patient’s measurements onto one of them. Office Practicum has a telephone messaging system and instant messaging between staff. All the CPT and ICD9 codes are already loaded into the program. All the codes for pediatric-specific diagnoses, vaccines, etc. were there. So much of what would have had to be designed from scratch in other systems was already there in Office Practicum.
“I use a tablet PC and we have a wireless network. I chose the tablet because I didn’t want to have my back turned to a counter-mounted computer or have the screen of a laptop as a ‘barrier’ between me and the parent and child. About 90% of my note writing can easily be done by pointing/clicking with the pen and using the pre-set templates. We haven’t had any major problems. On the two occasions the system went down we got immediate responses from the staff at Connexin Software and we were back up and running within a couple of hours. We had some difficulty getting our wireless network to work well or to get our tape backup to work perfectly, but these problems were solved by a good IT person. (Note: Dr. Raucher’s practice is located in the basement of a building, which created wireless Internet difficulties and wiring problems unrelated to Office Practicum.)
Benefits & Favorite Features:
“We had some reservations about Office Practicum. Compared to others, theirs was a small company. How stable would they be? How good would support be? The answer is: you have nothing to be concerned about here. Many of our colleagues are looking at Office Practicum and we keep hearing of new clients. I am very impressed with the help we get on a daily basis. The program is continually being improved. Some of my own ideas have been listened to and incorporated into the program, too.
“I like the fact that while I’m in the exam room or in my office, any data I enter are available to the front desk immediately. The prescription-writing section, once individualized, is very helpful too. I think Office Practicum is a great system. It does 99% of what I’d like to see in an EHR system and it does it very well. It’s set up with the pediatrician in mind, making it easy to churn out school and camp forms. The teaching was and continues to be very good. The same is true of support and help.
“There are lots of EHR programs out there, but I doubt you’ll find many as good and as comprehensive, or as useful to you (if you are a pediatrician) as Office Practicum. If that isn’t enough to convince you that this is a wonderful program, look at the price — in comparison, it’s a bargain!”