I Have A Dream... Practice Management Without Fuss

By Craig Saunders, 29 November 2011

Every business dreams of a paperless office right? Where administration takes a back seat to customer care and excellence in your field. Dr Alex Buller and his team at Eye Surgeons Hawkes Bay (ESHB) have put the blinkers on, buckled their seat belts and embraced this challenge with absolute determination.


This Practice Management solution needed to be able to email, print, scan in documents, track and monitor patients, calendar appointments, set reminders, and invoice all pretty standard stuff. They also needed the ability to receipt payments against multiple bank accounts and operate smoothly across Macs and PC's” this is a bit more complicated, but still not too unusual.

So why not look for an 'off-the-shelf' solution?

Alex wanted control! From the outset he knew they wanted a custom solution which isn't for everyone, at times it can be more stressful than a houseful of pre-schoolers. But they were committed and didn't want to be constrained or confused by features that were designed to suit the masses. Ongoing improvements, additions and modifications needed to be driven by them and reflect the changing needs of their practice.

Dr. Alex Buller

Talking to Alex there were some other twists to the requirements:

"Clinical notes include examination drawings and diagrams, and the variations to these are multiple. A system including freehand sketches was a must, so we wanted a system that could receive them from a tablet allowing us to draw right onto the computer screen. It's true that a picture can say a thousand words."

They came to Digital Fusion for some expert assistance with their partially developed FileMaker system, fondly named 'Orbit'. They'd built it themselves and the objective was to create a unique solution tailored to their specific workflow. We understood a couple of the key outcomes were to reduce the physical storage requirements and increase visibility of patient information in real time.

But there was more...

"Ophthalmology uses some specific information: although we're doctors we are usually more interested in how well a person can read the vision chart than their latest blood pressure reading. Working on our own system means we can have the specialised information we want, right where we want it. Most doctor-oriented software won't allow us to do that."

Each patient is moved through the various stages of a consultation: appointment scheduling, nurse assessment, completion of tests then consultation with a specialist, all of which is viewable by any of the practice staff ensuring continuity of care for the patient. By the time the patient reaches the reception desk to leave, all the information necessary for writing a clinical letter, billing, and recalling the patient at a later date is at the fingertips of Rosemary and Gwen who run the office.

So how has their life changed- has it all been worth it?

Alex's business partner Dr John Beaumont summed up their feelings on Orbit so far:


Alex was new to FileMaker and had no computer training, but was able to follow the tutorials easily.

"I know what the practice wants, and how FileMaker works, so can interpret between the 2 professions quite confidently communication with Digital Fusion became very straightforward."

ESHB are the masters of their own destiny, they wanted to do things a bit differently so took a risk. And now they're reaping the rewards.

"With Alex as both project leader and on site support to myself and our team of two nurses and three admin staff, we have been able to make major changes rapidly. Sure, there have been some stresses and also still developments ahead. Having a system built to our needs and under our future direction can only be good. Dr John Beaumont


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