When I was originally hired as a "file clerk," they hired me because they were at least two months behind on their charts. Referring physicians were not receiving their OV notes until at least a month after the appointment. This was in early 2005. That summer, they moved to another building with "more" space for their records (as well as to accommodate their growing practice). This included shelving on tracks that would allow a more space-efficient filing system. Before we moved charts to the new building, our office manager had us to do a estimated count of charts. From the years 2002-2005, more charts were counted than space was available in the new building's space-efficient filing system. This was before we'd even moved in! Within months, we had the 2002 charts boxed up and moved to the basement.
As a file clerk, I would spend many of my Saturdays and after-hours faxing office notes and binding them into the charts. We were seldom ever caught up on paperwork. After all the charts were bound and ready to be filed, it would take an entire day to file them into our new shelving unit.
In January 2007, we began the transition to EMR: preparing our computer system, speaking with representatives, implementing software and training. Six months later, we "went live." What a fiasco.
In the end, it took about 6-9 months to iron out the wrinkles. Three months later, I was laid off from my job as "file clerk" due to lack of work. There were no charts to bind, office notes were faxed via the computer in about 20 minutes, and no charts to file in the ridiculous space-efficient shelving system.
Despite the fact that I lost my job, I cannot tell you just how much EMR helped my former employers' practice. From a receptionist point of view, it makes phone calls, refills, questions, and records requests so much more efficient. From a clinical point of view, it's a lot easier to mark check boxes, type abbreviations and review patient history with the touch of a button.
As a student of the class of 2013, it is my hope that by the time I am ready to practice (~2017) that EMR will be a permanent, essential component to medical practices across the country.