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The cosmetic practice is going paperless

Article-The cosmetic practice is going paperless

Key iconKey Points

  • As the power of computers and software continue to push the boundaries of efficiency and communication in our personal lives a new generation of electronic medical records (EMR) systems is evolving to meet the challenges of cosmetic and dermatology practices, enhancing productivity, patient safety, and the quality of patient care

Editor's note

CST's 2008 Technology Issue presents emerging research, products and tech culture developments worth watching for their potential impact on the aesthetic discipline

Mr. Fortune
Just as technology redefines aspects of our personal lives, the next generation of electronic medical record (EMR) tools is evolving to meet the challenges of cosmetic and dermatology practices, enhancing productivity, the quality of care — even patient safety. At first blush, an EMR system — pathway to the so-called "paperless office" — may appear to be an attractive choice based solely on the significant savings that can be realized in both paper costs and the expense of storing bulky traditional records. But their advantages may go well beyond these savings.

"Having total access is, perhaps, the biggest advantage," says Garett Fortune, vice president of sales and marketing for, a Cleveland-based developer of an integrated system of electronic medical records and practice management software packages of the same name. "[I ask physicians] have you ever been in your office and someone is looking for a chart, and it's not around? You took it to the surgery center, or you're at one office and you need the information on the patient at another office. How would it be if you could pull that information up from wherever you are?"

Dr. Lichten
"Just having access to my records 24/7 — no matter where I am — is a lifesaver," concurs Jason Lichten, M.D., director of Central Ohio Plastic Surgery, Inc. in Lancaster and Groveport, Ohio. Dr. Lichten took the paperless plunge from the outset of his practice's founding in 2005 by installing a complete EMR and practice management system.

"There are definite advantages in accessibility and ease of use," Dr. Lichten says. "I have no regrets."

MAKING THE MOVE Eliot Mostow, M.D., M.P.H., professor of internal medicine and chair of the dermatology section at Northeastern Ohio University's Colleges of Medicine and Pharmacy in Rootstown, Ohio, decided that the time was right to go paperless last February, when he opened a second office with new associate James Libecco, M.D., who had previously participated in the transition to EMR at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation.

"When you walk into my office as a patient, I don't want to be typing on a keyboard," says Dr. Mostow. "In the skin care world, whether plastic surgery or dermatology, there are a lot of things you need to mark down and measure as you're doing an exam, and I wanted the patient interaction to be the same or better than if I had a paper chart. Using tablets and an electronic pen, we're really not doing anything different."

Steven Goldman, M.D., director and owner of the Beachwood Plastic Surgery and Medical Spa in Beachwood, Ohio, instituted an EMR system when he moved from a university setting into his own practice in 2006.

Dr. Mostow
"When I went from the hospital setting into private practice, we scanned the records of the active patients so the hospital could keep its charts and I could keep copies of my medical records," Dr. Goldman tells Cosmetic Surgery Times. "The exact forms you used with a regular paper system can be created electronically. With a tablet PC, you can write on these forms electronically, much like using a paper chart. If you want to organize the chart in the same way, with tabs and subfolders, you can."

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