Mack Eye Center needed to upgrade its practice management software to become a paperless clinic; however, its IT infrastructure did not support the electronic medical records software it had chosen. The clinic solved the problem by deploying Windows® Small Business Server 2008 Premium. Today, staff members enjoy streamlined workflows and remote access to digital data so that they can provide more efficient, personal patient care.
Dr. Mack is a board-certified ophthalmologist and LASIK surgeon, as well as the founder of Mack Eye Center near Chicago, Illinois. “We are a high-paced clinic, serving 15,000 patients,” says Lana Conley, Practice Manager at Mack Eye Center. “In the 12 years since our founding, we have built our reputation on exceptional personal care delivered in comfortable surroundings.”
The clinic’s IT infrastructure, however, had not kept pace with an increase in business. The clinic relied on Medisoft Ophthalmology practice management software running on 11 personal computers in a peer-to-peer network. This IT configuration made it difficult for employees to share files, calendars, appointment schedules, and patient information.
Then, in 2005, Dr. Mack met Peter Perry, Owner of Soaring Eagle Computer Services, a Microsoft® Small Business Specialist based in Chicago. Perry suggested deploying a server-based network running Windows® Small Business Server 2003 R2. Everyone began to work more efficiently after the clinic deployed this solution, which includes the Windows Server® 2003 operating system and Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 e-mail messaging and collaboration software for calendaring, remote access, shared document repositories, and data backup capabilities.
But Dr. Mack wanted to boost productivity even more by transitioning to a paperless office. “Employees wasted time updating charts, faxing billing sheets, and writing phone messages and prescriptions,” says Conley. “Only one person could look at a patient’s chart at a time. Paper charts pose a privacy risk because they might be seen by the wrong person, such as a cleaner or a pharmaceutical sales representative. This made it difficult to comply with HIPAA [Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996].”
To go paperless, the clinic needed to deploy the latest version of its Medisoft software, which offers an electronic medical records (EMR) module. However, this version requires a second physical server for its database software. “Recently, the increase in patient data entered into the system had reduced performance,” says Conley. “And with only one physical server, our system didn’t have the processing power to support the Medisoft EMR capabilities.”
Mack Eye Center returned to Soaring Eagle Computer Services for help. Perry recommended that the clinic upgrade to Windows Small Business Server 2008 Premium. Like its predecessor, this comprehensive server solution contains all the technologies that Mack Eye Center employees need to run the clinic, but it is based on the Windows Server 2008 Standard operating system. The Premium edition includes a second copy of Windows Server 2008 Standard along with Microsoft SQL Server® 2008 Standard data management software to run on an additional physical server.
||Going paperless is the most significant step we can take to boost clinic efficiency, improve patient care, and cut costs. We couldn’t have done it without Windows Small Business Server 2008.
Practice Manager, Mack Eye Center
“The additional server software would enable the clinic to deploy the latest version of Medisoft with its EMR capabilities,” says Perry. “As a 64-bit operating system, the solution would operate much more efficiently.”
Continues Conley, “When Pete told us about the new antispyware features of Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 that comes with the new version, the simplified setup, and streamlined remote access capabilities using the Remote Web Workplace feature, we were even more excited.”
In January 2009, Perry installed a new Hewlett-Packard ProLiant ML 310 computer running Windows Small Business Server 2008 Premium. He repurposed the old server to run SQL Server 2008 Standard, the EMR software, and the clinic’s optical shop software. The clinic added a Tablet PC for Dr. Mack to write referral letters and access patient records while in the examining room, and it deployed four more personal computers for staff members to use in exam rooms. All personal computers run Microsoft Office Small Business 2007.
“We expect to be totally paperless by 2010,” says Conley.
It took no time for Mack Eye Center employees to acclimate to Windows Small Business Server 2008, and the clinic quickly realized significant benefits. Since deploying the upgrade and new EMR software that supports a paperless office, Mack Eye Center employees are working much more productively. Staff members can also enjoy streamlined remote access into the network, better protection from spam, and improved system performance.
Dr. Mack uses the Remote Web Workplace feature in Windows Small Business Server to securely access Medisoft from home or the hospital, so now he can make decisions about patient care immediately, instead of having to call the office and wait while someone reads him the information. And because Windows Small Business Server enforces user authentication and strong password policies, this remote access capability is fully compliant with HIPAA.
“With simultaneous access to patient data, we can all reallocate the time we spent shuffling paper charts among staff members to friendly, efficient service,” says Conley. “Receptionists are saving two days a week in preparing patient charts.
“I’m at least 15 percent more productive using the streamlined remote access capabilities to access the system from home,” Conley continues. “I can reschedule patients’ appointments or staff schedules. Unsolicited e-mail messages are down from 50 to 100 a day to one or two, and the system is running about 25 percent faster.”
Transitioning to a paperless clinic means that Mack Eye Center can save money on Medisoft deployment costs through government incentives, such as the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH) provisions of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). And because the EMR capabilities include e prescriptions, Mack Eye Center can claim back 2 percent of Medicare reimbursements.
The clinic is seeing direct cost benefits, as well. “We have saved 50 square feet of floor space, so we don’t have to pay for extra room to house our paper medical records,” says Conley. “Going paperless is the most significant step we can take to boost clinic efficiency, improve patient care, and cut costs. We couldn’t have done it without Windows Small Business Server 2008.”