(WBIR) Six months later, private practices are still making changes to meet new standards under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
As of January, doctors who do not use electronic health records could face penalties.
According to the Obama administration, the new records will cut costs, reduce medical errors, and make it easier to share a patient's information between doctors.
Drs. Foster, Steele and Stone Family Optometry in Newport already use electronic filing but it is now switching to a more streamlined system. It will move from server-based to cloud-based software at the end of the month.
They expect to see more patients under the ACA.
"Hopefully, we'll be able to speed up our workflows and see a greater amount of patients in a shorter amount of time," said Kimberly Vick, chief operating officer for Foster, Steele and Stone.
The practice hired two new staff members, including Vick in December. It is her job to focus on the new regulations.
"They are troopers and it does require a certain amount of commitment," she said.
Dr. Robert Parker with Parker Family Eyecare in Kingston chose to close his practice in December. Parker still used paper records; the upgrade would have cost as much as $80,000, plus more staff.
"I miss using my skill, work experience, and education. I enjoy taking care of patients; I enjoy examining eyes and treating eyes, so I do miss that. Do I miss trying to run a private practice in the essence of this Affordable Care Act? Not at all," Parker said.
Foster, Steele and Stone still has more changes to go.
According to Vick, they may need to train their techs as scribes, that way doctors can focus on the patients and techs will focus on records.
With electronic records, Vick said they will probably see more walk-through audits.