Richard’s View: Record Management Systems

Since our new website went live in March we have been taking an increasing number of bookings on line. It’s surprisingly easy to do, although the first time you log on to our site you do have to register which adds a few seconds to the process. Once you’re logged in you can see what appointments are available and with whom, and then choose when you want to come. We’ll be in touch to confirm the appointment and again, if you make an appointment more than a few days ahead, to remind you the day before you come to see us. You can even do it on your phone when we’re closed.

It’s all able to work because of the way our computerised management system links clinical and financial records with our diary and is constantly kept up to date. It’s a far cry from the paper diary my first ever employer used when I was a student doing holiday work in a small practice in Skipton. Harry – as everyone knew him – was a lovely old man ( everyone over thirty was old to me in those days) with a terrible smoking habit and accompanying cough as well as a bulbous nose which made one wonder how much he imbibed out of working hours. After each patient he would wheeze his way upstairs from his consulting room into his office for a restorative cup of tea and yet another cigarette. There he would regale me and his receptionist with stories and observations about the people he clearly valued immensely despite being able to see the funny side of their characters.

“Just watch across there” he said to me one day, pointing out of the window to where four elderly Yorkshire matrons were standing gossiping outside the Electricity Board showrooms. “It’s nearly half past twelve and on the dot of half past the showrooms shut for their half day. Those four will still be talking and as soon as the door is locked they’ll go and rattle it and complain that they can’t pay their bills” Sure enough, half past came, the door was locked and within seconds they were rattling away at the door. “Happens every month” he said, chuckling.

His record system, though, was a delight to behold. Every patient had an index card filed alphabetically with the dates of their completed appointments on and there was a separate card index where the completed clinical records were filed by date so when it was time to send for more patients you simply took a few days’ worth of record cards from the bottom of the pile and sent reminders to those addresses. Not that dissimilar from the system our current computer uses to select our reminders today.

Keep on bringing in your old spectacles for VAO – there’s nearly another box full ready to go.

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