Why Electronic Documentation Can be Such a Pain

By Juanita Benedict, DPT, CEAS II

I get it. I understand why electronic medical records are necessary. Documenting in this format is supposed to decrease medical errors and improve coordination of health care. I even prefer electronic documentation in most circumstances. Honestly, who wants to sit and hand write 30 detailed notes at the end of the day? It’s a great concept, except … don’t we already spend too much time in front of a screen? Even before the implementation of the electronic record requirements, a study from the Council for Research Excellence in 2009 reported in the New York Times claimed that the average American spends more than eight hours per day in front of a screen! With more of our personal and business interactions being performed in front of the computer or mobile device, how much has that time increased almost seven years later?

Despite the benefits of electronic documenting for overall improved coordination of health and documentation compliance, the fact is that extended screen time is simply not healthy. Here are three reasons why:

1. More prolonged sitting. After sitting all or most of the day, the last thing your body needs is more sitting. However, it is unlikely that you have equipped your office with one of those cool treadmill desks. Sedentary activities promote cardiovascular disease, increase the risk of obesity and consequential health problems associated with it, decrease aerobic capacity and much more. Of course, there is a higher incidence of musculoskeletal pain in those who are more sedentary because the body is simply getting weaker.

2. More poor posturing. Proper posturing is just as important while using a computer as it is when working on patients to decrease risk of developing musculoskeletal dysfunction. Just as proper sitting postures often are lacking when delivering dental care, computer operating postures often leave much to be desired. If you are already experiencing neck/shoulder/back/wrist pain, your computer positioning may be a contributing factor that you have not considered. This is another area where those pesky muscle imbalances wreak havoc.

3. More visual stress. Eye strain is a problem for dental professionals. According to the American Optometric Association, extended time on computers can lead to a collection of symptoms that has been named “computer vision syndrome.” Symptoms include headaches, blurred vision, and even neck and shoulder pain. Since eye strain is already common in dentistry due to the demands of accommodation and such, adding more activities that promote poor eye health is not ideal.

As it becomes more necessary to increase your screen time at work, it becomes even more necessary to change your lifestyle habits. Here are just a few tips on how to counteract some of the consequences of extended computer use:

Unplug: Spend time away from computers, phones, tablets and TV screens! You may be amazed at how difficult this may be at first. However, after a while, this will seem like a refreshing oasis of time. Reconnect with those things you once loved.

Move: Any way you want. Dance. Walk. Swim. Bike. Go to the gym. Play with your kids. Help a neighbor move. Clean the house! It doesn’t matter what you do — just get going. This act alone has tremendous emotional and physical health benefits.

Eat well: With an increase of sedentary activities, there is a decrease in calories burned and increase in fat deposited throughout the body. If you are not training to run a marathon, make sure you are not eating as though you are. Stick to a healthy diet with a lot of fiber and water. Peristalsis tends to slow as we become more sedentary as well, which can lead to bloating and other very uncomfortable things!

Educate yourself: Knowing your risk factors for developing pain and compromising your health is necessary so that you can learn how to overcome them. Use quality and reputable resources to make changes in your daily practice. OSHA has provided a free guide to setting up a proper workstation environment to improve posturing. Other resources provide information on how to assess your computer stations and help you to configure a station that makes long hours of documentation, business transactions, emailing, and even reading blogs more comfortable and safe for you.

It appears electronic documentation is here to stay. So, it is of utmost importance that you learn how to protect your health from the devastating consequences that will result from hours of screen time.

As always: Be healthy and practice safely!


Juanita Benedict is a physical therapist in Florida who works specifically with dental professionals to reduce their pain while practicing as well as extend their careers. For more information, go to www.healthydentistrysolutions.com or contact her at 407.801.3324.

 

Scary Good Web Design Tips from Officite

By Kevin Rach

Beware, dear reader, and steel your nerves before continuing further in this article. The stories contained herein are the unfortunate tales of dentists and patients attempting to connect with each other through mismanaged and long-neglected practice websites. Let this be a cautionary tale, and take heed, lest a similar gruesome fate befall your own practice …

“It Came From 2005!”
It took almost half a minute, but when the dentist’s website finally shambled out from the darkness of the loading screen, the patient gasped. It was … hideous.

The unsightly configuration of mismatched and outdated design elements shuffled forward on two poorly constructed footers like an HTML Frankenstein’s monster. “Welcome to my website,” it croaked, its cobwebbed mouth opened wide, revealing teeth in much need of a good dentist.

The patient nearly gagged as the unresponsive mass lurched forward, oversized images dragging behind its lopsided gait. It was almost enough to make her pity the aberration, but there was no time. She had to escape, to find a dentist with a modern Web presence. After all, if this is what the website looked like, there was no telling what outdated horrors lay within the practice itself.

“In Cyberspace, No One Can Hear You Tweet.”
Dr. Igor had nothing but good intentions when he set out on his new experiment. The goal? Using social media to promote his practice and start generating referrals. He set up a Facebook page and a Twitter handle, and started regularly posting. All might have gone well had he not made two crucial mistakes — failing to integrate social media buttons on the main website, and never encouraging a patient to “like” his practice in person.

Dr. Igor has not been seen by a patient online since 2011.

Legend has it that on some clear nights, if you turn up your speakers and listen very hard, you can just barely hear the whimper of his social media posts mumbling about the importance of semiannual exams.

There is still time, dear reader. The horrors described here need never haunt your own practice. With the help of a company like the FDA’s official Web presence provider, Officite, your practice will be safe and sound with cutting-edge responsive mobile design, integrated social media and search engine optimization — the tools your practice needs to survive.

Visit www.officite.com/dental, or call 855.208.9124.

 

My Email Has Been Hacked … Now What Do I Do?

By Larry Darnell, FDA Director of Information Systems

First, do not freak out — email hacks are quite common. Determine if it is just your email that has been hacked and not your computer. If the computer you work on the most is not showing any signs of trouble (pop-ups, browser redirects, etc.), then it is likely that only your email account has been hacked.

Log in to your email and change your password immediately and try to update to a two-step (or two-factor) authentication password method. This will keep individuals from seizing your account so easily in the future. I also would recommend that you change any other passwords that are based on your email password. Most people use a variation of one password for life; thus, the name life password. After you have done that, email, text or call your contacts and let them know your email has been hacked and not to open anything from you.

 

My Computer Has a Pop-up That Says it Has a Virus … What Do I Do Now?

By Larry Darnell, FDA Director of Information Systems

Every once in a while, you may get a pop-up on your screen claiming your computer has a virus and to remove it, you must call the number shown immediately. I have come across a number of people who will look at a pop-up like this on their computer and do one of two things:

  1. Ignore it.
  2. Do exactly as it says.

I am mystified that some may do as the pop-up says, but we have been conditioned to this type of behavior. The criminal element realizes that, so they craft malware. Malware, although technically not a virus, is software that pretends to be useful, but is in fact malicious — thus, the name. Most anti-virus programs are built to stop the bad viruses … not so much the malware.

Malware most often is installed  because we choose to do it. It may come in the form of an extra toolbar on our browser, a coupon program or some other seemingly helpful software. We open the door and let it in, and then it takes over. I have known people to blindly call someone and give them access to their computer remotely and even their credit card information based on malware (or, as we call it “scareware” or “ransomware”)! I recommend you take the computer to a professional and get their opinion. If you opt to try and fix it yourself, a couple of programs that are helpful are Malwarebytes and HitmanPro; both can help eliminate your problem.

Please do not choose to ignore it. That will only make it worse, that much I can promise you.