Michael S. Morelli, MD, is Vice President of Indianapolis Gastroenterology and Hepatology and Chairman of the group's information technology and marketing committee. He is board certified in Gastroenterology and specializes in clostridium difficile, pancreatic and biliary disease and colorectal cancer. He also has expertise in performing endoscopic ultrasound and ERCP. Dr. Morelli graduated from the University of Notre Dame and earned his Medical Degree from Ohio State University. He completed his internship, residency and chief residency at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina and completed his Gastroenterology Fellowship at the University of Cincinnati.
Dr. Morelli is currently active in the Indianapolis Gastroenterology Research Foundation and has published several publications in his areas of interest including a book chapter on pancreatitis. Dr. Morelli also currently writes article reviews for the journal, Evidence Based Gastroenterology. He is the Medical Director of the St. Francis Hospital Colorectal Cancer Center and past Chairman of Internal Medicine at St. Francis Hospital and Health Centers.
The Indianapolis Gastroenterology & Hepatology office is a single specialty practice serving patients in the Indianapolis, Indiana community for the past 34 years. The practice staff includes 14 doctors and 2 nurse practitioners. Full time office locations are in Shelbyville and Morrisville. In addition, physicians see patients and perform surgeries at several area hospitals.
We implemented WebChart back in March 2006 before electronic health records were even talked about! We knew medicine was going this way and we wanted to be at the cutting edge of this trend while also maximizing efficiencies for our office.
Q: What “symptoms” was your practice experiencing prior to adopting an EHR? How did these symptoms lead your practice to explore the adoption of an EHR?
Since we implemented WebChart in 2006, there were no specific symptoms at this time, but we knew this was the way medicine was going and we wanted to be on the cutting edge of this trend. Plus, we knew this would improve efficiencies for us in the office such as being able to treat patients from any location (the office, home, hospital, etc.) and help us organize client files in a more organized fashion, saving us time and money. We thought if we started early, we could take our time in finding the right vendor, learning the technology and implementing it at our own pace.
Q: What were some of the challenges your practice faced in deciding to adopt an EHR?
Our physicians on staff vary in age and we all have different comfort levels with technology. Our biggest challenge was getting each physician behind the technology and this new way of practicing medicine. Many of the physicians were worried that the use of this technology would hinder the patient relationship because we would have our backs to the patient, typing on a computer. It was also a challenge to train each of our physicians on how to use the technology. To this day, some physicians in our practice still do not use the system’s full functionality to the best of its ability.
Q: How did you overcome those challenges?
We organized an EHR/IT committee within our practice to get the technology up and running. This group reviewed and sampled the technology first, addressed problem areas and provided feedback to MIE. Then we introduced the system to the full practice. From there, we appointed several “physician champions” who would arrange tutorial sessions with troubled physicians over lunch. Together, they would go through the system with specific patient examples. We also brought in representatives from MIE for additional training sessions. Eventually, this led to complete adoption of the technology among all of our physicians. Time worked in our favor here because we were able to adopt the technology at our own comfort level.
Q: Why did you select MIE over other potential suppliers?
We looked at various vendors and narrowed it down to the top three options. We ultimately chose MIE because of its flexibility. The system integrated easily with existing practice workflow and other systems and also allowed us to customize the product to our liking. WebChart is also much more user friendly than any other system we saw and the company has the best scanning software on the market. This allowed for a smooth transition to electronic charts for our large, paper-based group.
Q: What specific cost benefits are you seeing as a result of implementing WebChart from MIE?
We have not calculated specific cost breakdowns, but I can tell you that we reduced our dictation costs by 50 percent which basically pays our annual fees for WebChart. The improved office efficiencies and patient communication, as well as savings on printed materials, also provides significant cost savings. We are also well positioned to qualify for the upcoming incentive payments which will give us more money to put back into our practice.
Q: Did the implementation match your expectations? What surprised you?
We were actually surprised at how smoothly the implementation process went. There were very few bumps in the road and MIE took all of our feedback into account when creating WebChart specifically for our practice.
Q: What is your advice for smaller practices who are looking to implement and HER in their practice?
My biggest piece of advice is to take your time in the up-front research of vendors. Be very thorough. Make sure you find a vendor and a product that will match your practice needs and be able to accommodate your specialty. The vendor should also be flexible enough to make changes during the implementation process as you need them. Ask them for specific examples of this. This is a huge benefit in working with MIE. Also think about your training process in the beginning and think through a plan on how you will get your practice up and running and comfortable using the EHR.
And finally, always look for ways to improve. Even though we’ve been actively using an EHR since 2006, we are currently working with MIE to implement a patient portal from NoMoreClipboard.com which will be fully integrated with our WebChart EHR system enabling two-way electronic data exchange between our practice and our patients. There are always ways to improve what you’re doing and you don’t want to be left behind.