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More Doctors' Offices Going High Tech

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RALEIGH, N.C. — In most offices, everything is computerized and has been for a long time. Now, more medical offices are designed to get rid of paper clutter and put computers to greater use.

One of the reasons Scotty Carpenter chose Dr. Patricia Smith as his ophthalmologist is her office.

"It's very high tech. What they have here is state-of-the-art," he said.

Carpenter is not just talking about the new LASIK surgery equipment that gave him 20/15 vision. The entire office environment is designed to put patients at ease.

"Most people don't want to be in a medical environment, you know. You don't want to be at your doctor's office," said Terry Espy, medical office designer.

When Espy designs medical offices, her first target is clutter. Smith no longer relies on paper, but an electronic file.

Most physicians use computers for billing and insurance records, but Smith said they are reluctant to use them for patients' medical records. She has found her new system is more reliable and accurate, especially with prescriptions.

"I can click that and add it to the fax, you fax directly off this screen," she demonstrated.

"We have the technology today, we need to use that technology," Garner pharmacist Tom Jones said.

Jones has a knack for making out what some hand-written prescriptions mean, but he admits, it is too risky to leave to chance.

"The risk is giving the wrong drug, or the wrong strength. We've got to be perfect in our health care delivery," Jones said.

Smith is not ready to get rid of all of her paper files yet, but with office space costs being what they are, most physicians could use the extra space.

A growing number of hospitals are also adding new computer systems for medical records. They enter medical information and prescriptions on a computer right at the patient's bedside.


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