Some 700 users have taken advantage of a free Web-based computer program for medical residents since MedicaLogic Corp. made the program available in January. But some supervising physicians will not use the program until it permits access to the same charts under different passwords.
MedicaLogic, a Hillsboro, Ore.-based developer of electronic medical records software, launched an Internet version last year that pulled out certain documentation features from its comprehensive EMR, called Logician, and made them available to individual physicians (Feb. 7, p. 54).
Four months ago, MedicaLogic decided to provide that Internet program to 3,775 residency training programs, representing nearly 100,000 new physicians.
Not having entrenched themselves in a pen-and-paper environment, many of today's "tech-savvy" residents are more open to using electronic medical records to perform such tasks as documenting patient encounters and producing reports on patient populations, says Jody Pettit, M.D., who heads up MedicaLogic's residents program.
"Hopefully (residents) will be comfortable with our program and want to use it when they graduate," Pettit says.
But two of the physicians gearing up to equip their residents with the program will wait until it offers chart sharing, which MedicaLogic says will be available by the end of July.
Without it, residents have to document patient encounters under another physician's user name and password. That forces supervising physicians to share access privileges without sharing accountability, which they are unlikely to do in an environment that places a premium on thorough documentation.
"(Logician) really won't be ideal for us until we have multi-user access," says Sean Gaskie, M.D., a physician in the family practice residency program of Sutter Medical Center in Santa Rosa, Calif., which is part of Sacramento-based Sutter Health.
Among the strengths of Logician Internet is its ability to help physicians in training learn how to accurately document patient encounters, says Kenneth Elek, M.D., a residency clinic director at the E. Blair Warner Family Practice Center in South Bend, Ind., part of South Bend-based Memorial Health System.
Once they have documented a patient encounter, residents can ask Logician to display the level of billable service justified by their documentation. If residents feel they have provided a higher level of service than Logician does, the EMR application will tell them what additional information is needed to meet criteria for the higher level.
But Elek will wait until July to roll Logician out to most of his 27 or so residents, mostly because he is concerned about the inability to share charts without handing out his personal password.
Most of the residents taking advantage of MedicaLogic's free offer are using Logician in the outpatient family practice clinics where they spend a portion of their residency, Pettit says.
MedicaLogic plans to offer Logician free to medical residents indefinitely, Pettit says, with the goal of encouraging physicians in training to use electronic record systems in their postgraduate practices.