Ignoring Patient Supplements Because of the Hassle?

Technology now makes it easy to prescribe supplements for better patient care and to create a successful new revenue stream

:dropcap_open:M:dropcap_close:any DCs avoid offering nutritional supplements because it can seem like a time-consuming effort for little reward.
clipboard14But the fact is, prescribing nutritional supplements can provide major health benefits for your patients and your bottom line–and it doesn’t have to be a hassle. You just need to have the right technology in place to help.
Here are just a few of the concerns about prescribing supplements commonly cited by DCs, and how the right EHR/practice management software can effectively turn them into non-issues.
Educating patients on the supplements you prescribe
Creating custom educational handouts can seem like a daunting task, particularly because you want ALL the specifics—including dosage and frequency—for every supplement you carry to be double- and triple-checked.
Depending on which EHR/practice management software you choose, you may find that your program comes pre-loaded with patient education materials, including nutritional supplement handouts. This makes educating your patients as easy as printing out the correct handout for your patient, or pre-printing a stack for your most commonly used supplements.
You may also have the ability to create macros within the software detailing specific instructions and then distribute that information to your patients.
Documenting supplement prescriptions and consultation
With all of the documenting you already do, adding supplements to the mix may seem like it will add even more time to your process.
However, not documenting supplements is not even an option in terms of good risk management practices and state board rules on documentation standard of care. Should a liability issue arise, you will need that information at hand.
The good news is, documenting nutritional supplements doesn’t have to be difficult or time-consuming. The right software will make it easily accessible and will accommodate your workflow. Depending on the software you use, you can customize dozens of macros to allow for the simple point-and-click entry of your most common prescriptions and dosages.
:dropcap_open:That way, patients will have all of their prescriptions, dosage and frequency information available at the click of a mouse.:quoteleft_close:
With EHR/practice management software, when you document a supplement prescription, it becomes part of your patient’s record. You and your staff can easily access prescription history in a consolidated patient-specific supplement log or in the encounter-specific note.
What happens if a patient loses their information? Your staff can quickly find the instructions and either reprint or resend the information via an encrypted email,  effectively eliminating the need for patients to catch you between patients to ask.
But perhaps the best part is that you and your staff can now send the clinical care summary–including prescription details–with encrypted data to the patient’s Personal Health Record (for instance, Microsoft HealthVault).  That way, patients will have all of their prescriptions, dosage and frequency information available at the click of a mouse.
Side effects and other unintentional reactions
Your EHR software should include a component for checking drug/drug and drug/allergy interactions and automatically alerting you of potential conflicts. That way you can avoid potential side effects and other unintentional reactions before they even happen. 
Inventory management
EHR/practice management software can easily automate your supplement inventory, enabling you to set a threshold and receive a notification when it’s time to reorder.  This not only allows you to provide on-demand nutritional services, but it also helps you avoid excessive shipping charges from continually restocking or ordering one-offs.
There’s no operational reason that you shouldn’t offer nutritional supplements to your patients
Technology makes it easy for you to provide patient education, document your prescriptions, avoid unintentional reactions, and maintain inventory.
Your EHR will help you track all of a patient’s prescriptions, dosage, and frequency so all parties can recall what was prescribed. Again, you can print the information out and provide it to the patient and send the encrypted data right to your patient’s Personal Health Record.
Managed properly, nutritional supplements can help improve patient care in an efficient, risk management-friendly way–without adding a lot of time and effort.
Steven J. Kraus, DC, DIBCN, CCSP, FASA, FICC, is founder and CEO of Future Health, the industry leader in EHR/practice management software for Doctors of Chiropractic. He is a recognized expert in Health IT, including EHR (electronic health records) and the up-to-$44,000 ARRA incentive program to implement EHR. Under Dr. Kraus’ direction, hundreds of Future Health DCs qualified for the 2011 ARRA incentive. In fact, more DCs collected incentive money using Future Health than any other software. Dr. Kraus is also an expert on practice management, with more than 23 years of experience in his own practice. He has developed and sold 18 practices and has provided strategic consulting to more than 400 healthcare businesses nationwide. For more information and to sign up for a free software demo, visit www.FHeConnect.com/1074.

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