Small Staff, Big Results

Post by Barbara Tergis, Hastings-on-Hudson, NY

The small family practice in Hastings-on-Hudson, NY has been around for 28 years. It consists of Dr. Dorian Tergis, two medical tech assistants, and Barbara Tergis, who functions as administrator, biller, office manager, and nurse. Decades of patient records reside there. When they closed their office for one day in late July to go live with a new EHR system, Barbara was extremely anxious.

“At first you get scared,” she said. “We don’t have a lot of staffing, and the greatest challenge is properly inputting the information.” They closed for a full day of training, and the practice opened up to patients the next day, booking at 50% capacity for a month and a half. For a full week, Dr. Tergis’ practice received on-site training, with an implementation manager in the office every day.

“Our trainer was phenomenal,” said Barbara. “The patients really understood—and staff-wise, our staff picked up all the new processes quickly.”

They continued to receive training for several months to get accustomed to, among other things, a new system of billing. It was not easy, but Barbara had heard it often took around six months to get things settled. “Our system is Aprima,” she said. “It’s template-free. And we’re happy we did that. For us it’s a good system—because, as a family practice, you see every diagnosis under the sun.”

Around seven months later, on February 1st, after many a late night in the office inputting data from patient records, the practice attested to Meaningful Use. Barbara could not be happier with the professionalism and quality of the support. Some of the results, in terms of patient care, have been surprising, too.

“Right now it’s the smoking cessation,” she said, “because so many people still smoke. When you see patients for so many years, you can overlook it more easily. But with the new system it’s there—it really highlights that. It’s a pervasive health problem. Now we have the smokers listed, things aren’t buried. It’s front and center; they’re no longer denying history. It’s there: you’re a smoker.”

The same, she has found, with diabetes: “You’re a diabetic, let’s work on nutrition—it’s really allowed us to get them to take stock.” Barbara also found the e-prescribing function to be helpful. “The refilling of meds is wonderful with e-prescribing, from a nursing perspective,” she said. “Drug interactions pop up, warning boxes pop up.”

Now, with the office running efficiently, she is working on a new patient portal. Things are working, she says, “And we ran a tight ship before.”