Tech Made Easy?

May 1, 2005

Can you direct me to an algorithm that will walk me through the IT maze? Our cardiology practice is looking at document management systems instead of a full EMR, but how do I pick the right technology?

Question: Can you direct me to an algorithm that will walk me through the IT maze? Our cardiology practice is looking at document management systems instead of a full EMR, but how do I pick the right technology?

Answer: Ah, if only an easy "algorithm" existed. Alas, no such luck. However, Physicians Practice has launched a monthly e-mail newsletter, The Tech Doctor, to help practices like yours sort through the IT maze. Sign up for it - as well as other free e-mail newsletters - by clicking on the Weekly Newsletters box.

Now, as to your specific question - I'm afraid there is no alternative but to do a total operational analysis of your practice and decide for yourself what your needs are, then hunt for products that can meet those needs.

You need to define your needs based on your particulars.

In cardiology, do you need to track labs better? How will you do so with the document management system?

Why do you want less paper? Paper itself is not the problem. The problem is that you can't find what you want when you need it. What do you want to be able to find? Charts? EOBs? HIPAA and registration info? All of the above and more?

How would you ideally enter information into the document management system? Who will scan it, and how fast does the system have to work?

How serious do the version control and rules need to be? If you have a lot of people storing stuff, you'll need hard rules built into the system to make sure items are stored where they need to be. But perhaps in your situation, you can be a little more relaxed.

In short, look at IT as any other business decision.