Uses Of Computer For Medical Assistants

When computerizing a medical office, it is important to know what to expect, to understand the uses and limits of computers, and to organize the transition thoroughly, with proper attention to these details:    
1. Know what the office needs in a computer system. To be useful, a computer system must serve the needs of the facility. Make a list of why you want the computer: it might include word processing, insurance claim filing, and managing a database. You also might want on-line and E-mail capabilities.    
2. Network by talking to other people in the medical industry. It is advisable to ask questions of other ambulatory care centers that have been through the manual-to-computerization process. Ask them what computer hardware they prefer, what software applications they advise for different functions, and what problems they encountered during their transition.    
3. Work with a trusted, knowledgeable vendor. It is important to establish a relationship with a computer vendor who understands not only computers but the needs of a medical office. Reliable vendors should be able to advise you of the best system and software and help you anticipate and allow for future needs as the medical practice grows.    
4. Involve all staff members. If staff members are not familiar with the use of computers, they may feel threatened and, initially, think that using a computer is more time-consuming than doing a task manually. The transition takes time and training. Organize staff training sessions, either on- or offsite, so that all employees are familiar with the basics of computer operation.    
5. Install the operation during a down period. The installation of a computer network can be very disruptive to patients and the office environment. If possible, schedule the installation during a down period, such as over a long holiday when the office is closed, or at least after office hours.    
6. Allow adequate time for start-up. Initially, much data from existing records will have to be entered. This is an onerous and time-consuming task, but one that must be done with great accuracy. Do not expect the computer system to be 100 percent operational immediately. Allow time for medical records and other data to be entered and for staff to build confidence in their computer skills.