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Good-bye paper charts

Jan 26, 20043 mins
MicrosoftSmall and Medium BusinessVoIP

Microsoft small business tools help medical practice increase efficiency

Last year tech vendors began wooing small businesses, and Microsoft was no exception. One small business owner who took advantage of all the attention was Dr. Arthur Lavin, who began using Microsoft Office Small Business Edition 2003 and Small Business Server 2003 – along with third-party electronic records management applications – to create a new paperless medical practice.

Lavin has long believed the paper chart was a dinosaur. “Every time a piece of data comes in or out, or any time there’s a transaction, somebody has to pull the patient’s chart, [add] new information and refile the chart. That’s an awkward way to run a database,” Lavin says.

Teaming up with Dr. Mary Stacia Dearmin, in 2002, the Beachwood, Ohio, pediatrician launched Advanced Pediatrics. In the office, there are no chart racks; all records are maintained electronically. Staffers use Compaq TC1000 Tablet PCs and a notebook PC equipped with wireless network cards to share data, as well as a Compaq desktop equipped with Office Small Business Edition 2003 connected to a network running Small Business Server 2003. Advanced Pediatrics relies on two electronic medical records packages to maintain patient records and track billing and scheduling. A local IT consultant helped Lavin and Dearmin design the network he now manages.

In May 2002, Advanced Pediatrics participated in the Office Small Business Edition 2003 beta tests, and also took part in the small business solutions program set up by Microsoft and its technology partners. Microsoft helped the new practice develop a corporate identity using Microsoft Publish, which obviated the need to hire an expensive public relations firm. After some initial guidance from a graphic artist, Lavin developed a company logo, business card and newsletter. “Publisher tools provide us with an enterprise level look and feel, yet we are only seven people,” he says.

Lavin was also satisfied with Microsoft Small Business Server 2003. “It takes a good IT person 15 minutes to install and establish a pretty sophisticated office computer network with home access and features that used to be only available to an enterprise user,” he says. The Web Access feature lets Lavin access Office programs from home via the Internet, so he can leave the office at 5:30.

“With Remote Web Workplace, I have my office computer, as I left it, on my home computer screen,” he says. “Rather than finish up chart notes or complete business work after seeing patients in the office, I go home and finish the day’s work when it doesn’t interfere with family or social time.”

Microsoft Small Business Server Standard Edition costs $600 (for five user licenses). Microsoft Office Small Business Edition 2003 costs $500 new, $279 with an upgrade from Office 97 or higher.

“It’s pretty cheap for what you get. You’re going to get that money back in a jiffy, I think,” Lavin says.