EMR/EHRHealth ITInterviewAdvancing Family Medicine Through Technology: The Journey of Dr. Thomas J. Miller

In this insightful interview, Dr. Thomas J. Miller, a respected figure in family medicine with four decades of experience, shares his pioneering journey into the digital transformation of medical practice management. As the owner of a thriving Texas-based family medicine practice, Dr. Miller has been at the forefront of integrating Electronic Health Records (EHR) and practice management solutions. Starting as early as 1993 with basic medical office software, he has navigated the evolution of these technologies to significantly enhance operational efficiencies and patient care. Join us as Dr. Miller discusses the early adoption challenges, immediate workflow improvements, and the enduring benefits of these advanced medical tools in enhancing the quality of healthcare delivery.

Dr. Thomas J. Miller

When did you first implement an EHR solution as a private practice owner? 

I was an early adopter of medical office software to help manage my solo Family Medicine practice. In 1993 I started using practice management software to support billing processes, and then, in 2004, I started using EHR software. Prior to using the practice management software, we were completing HCFA 1500s manually on a typewriter and our billing procedures were always delayed because of how much we had to do manually.

Patient accounts were kept on paper cards in a rack with one or more cards for each patient.  New charges and payments were put in patient files by hand. Using software to help manage these tasks allowed us to expedite billing tasks and get paid much faster for services rendered.  Also, it was much quicker and easier to look up a patient’s account information.

Did you see immediate workflow improvements after implementing your EHR platform? 

Before starting to use the EHR software I was using paper charts and storing these charts took up a lot of space in my office. Each afternoon an employee would have to pull the charts for patients who had an appointment the next day. Often the charts would be difficult to find and then took even more time to refile.  After implementing an EHR solution, charts are instantly available and never were lost or misplaced. Just not having to pull and refile charts saved a great deal of staff time.

Electronic prescribing is another great benefit of using an EHR solution. It is quick, and includes safety checks against the patient’s allergies and other current medicines. The EHR that I currently use from AdvancedMD

is cloud-based so I can access my files from anywhere and from any device.  This is especially helpful when I need to access a patient’s information when I am not in the office.

What have been the key benefits of using an integrated EHR and practice management solution? 

AdvancedMD said that their EHR and practice management solutions would improve efficiency and lower my costs. The practice management software would automate my billing and allow me to be paid more quickly, while the EHR software would ensure patient data and charts were instantly available, legible, and could be automatically updated. I would save money by not having to invest so much of my office’s productivity in storing, filing, refiling, and updating paper charts, and there would be far fewer errors within the charts and other paperwork.

In my opinion, being able to manage daily operations via medical office software is vastly superior to relying on paper-based processes and systems. It is faster, accessible to all who need it when they need it, and there are no problems with legibility and data errors.

Who among your staff uses the AdvancedMD solutions? Overall, do they find the technology easy to use?  

I currently have a very small office with only myself and two employees. One employee works at the front desk, answering phone calls and taking appointments, and receiving patient payments. My other employee is an LVN who performs clinical work, such as doing patient intake exams and preparing patients for procedures or taking vital signs. Of course, all three of us use the software.

My front desk person uses the practice management solution to schedule appointments.  The software can quickly confirm the patient’s insurance eligibility and any copayment due at the time of the visit. If a patient calls with a question she will look up the patient’s chart and can enter a phone message note if needed.

My nurse uses the software to open a visit note and enter vital signs. If she has to handle a patient phone call she will look up the patient’s chart in the EHR. I use the software to enter patient notes and create charges. At the end of the day, all charges for that day are automatically transmitted to the insurance company via the software.

How has the AdvancedMD platform improved workflow processes for you and your team? 

Because I’m using combined PM/EHR software, I’m able to run my practice more efficiently. Instead of needing multiple admin staff, I’ve been able to hire a single clinical employee and an admin employee who are both trained on the software and able to complete daily charting responsibilities so that claims are submitted the same day as the patient’s visit and everything is finished before I leave the office.

Most importantly, operational costs decreased by approximately 17% after implementing the software.

I believe, in these times, every practice should be taking advantage of software that easily brings together both the practice management side of the medical office with its EHR needs. An effective PM/EHR solution allows healthcare providers and their support staff to automate tedious tasks that take up a lot of time and effort, increasing efficiencies across the practice and decreasing costs.

Thomas J. Miller, M.D. is a member of the Tarrant County Medical Society, Texas Medical Association, Texas Academy of Family Physicians, and American Academy of Family Physicians and owner of the Texas-based family medicine private practice which he first opened 40 years ago.

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