One Physician's Experience with an MC

While demonstrating my new EMR to my transcriptionist in 1994, her first question was as to whether or not she was going to lose her job.

She had a better vision of the future than I did and that is exactly what happened in a matter of months. With the use of templates, I no longer needed a transcriptionist.

About 2 years ago, Dr. Oates began telling me about Dr. Kendrick’s use of a live remote scribe and how he felt that that would revolutionize documentation in the EMR. While I hated all of the extra work involved in being a data entry clerk, I was extremely skeptical and did not feel that it was an affordable option. Of all of the excellent advice Dr. Oates had given me over the years, I felt that this time he was wrong. That was a major mistake.

I rehired my previous transcriptionist in November, 2009 and now have had just over one year experience using a medical coordinator.

I can tell you that I would never go back to the old way of documentation. Prior to using a medical coordinator, I was spending 1-3 hours every night finishing up charts. My wife would always ask when I came home, “how much work do you have to do tonight”. She has quit asking that question as my evenings are free. Documentation is done before leaving the office. All of my morning patients are done by noon

The practice of medicine, which I have always loved, is enjoyable again. I have a lot of Medicare patients and they are coded as red in our scheduler. I used to dread looking at the schedule and seeing what I called a “sea of red” with one multiple Medicare patient after another, most with numerous, complex problems. Accurately documenting the encounters, especially using Smartext, was a real challenge and very time consuming but not anymore.

In addition, I now have time to talk to and chat with my patients. So, instead of frantically typing away, I can easily get needed information to Leslie as I take the history and do the exam. In addition, she does all of the order entry for lab work, x-ray, consultations etc. She has become so knowledgeable that she will often remind me of needed health maintenance issues, other medical issues that need follow-up that the patient did not bring up when talking to the nurse such as, for example, follow-up in impaired fasting glucose or follow-up on issues that should be addressed from previous visits. She greatly contributes to the good medical care of the patient.

This past October, about one year into my medical coordinator experience, one of my two mid-level providers left for another job opportunity nearer her home. Had I not had Leslie working for me, I would have been frantically trying to replace her. However, due to my ability to see more patients easily and comfortably, I have decided to hold off on hiring a replacement and after four months, we are doing just fine. The MC is not only affordable but clearly enables me to see more patients. While I am seeing more, the work seems less.

Terry L. Turke, M.D., Turke Family Medicine, S.C., Watertown, WI