18 Jan Which path do you choose? Paper vs. electronic records
I used to have a filing cabinet full of students’ records. I had to move it with me as I transitioned from one studio space to another over time. I had to unlock and relock it every time I used it to protect students’ privacy. I had to rescue the files when we had a water leak. All these things were somewhat inconvenient but manageable. The most inconvenient factor was having to rewrite the notes and sequences after every session, even if I made only minor changes. I still had to give the student an updated version of the home practice and keep a copy for myself, so I had to redraw it for them, take a picture, print it out, and put it in their file. I also had to print out the documents they sent me and keep track of my own notes. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but it adds up quickly when you see 4-5 students a day. Inevitably, you drop the ball somewhere and end up with random unfiled pictures and documents that pile up. That makes it hard to find what you need when you need it.
Then I switched to keeping simple Word documents for students’ records and using Sequence Wiz sequence builder for my sequences. That eliminated the paper clutter and made it much easier to make quick changes to practice sequences and send them to students right away. Then student folders on my computer began to grow and, once again, it was hard to keep them in order and locate the files I needed. Then someone broke into our yoga studio and stole a laptop of one of the practitioners with all her records, which freaked me out. I stopped taking my work laptop on trips in fear that it might get stolen. I had to make copies of all my files regularly, store them in a secure place, and update them all the time. Inevitably, I ended up with multiple copies of the same things. If I went traveling for any significant amount of time and planned to see clients online while I was away, I had to bring some of their records with me; once again, it was becoming way too complicated.
For all those reasons (and many others), we developed a Student Management System for yoga teachers and yoga therapists on Sequence Wiz. Within the system, you have templates for everything you need and specific places to put all your important information; the records are easy to modify, organize and search; they are encrypted and accessible from wherever you are. The system makes it easier to exchange information with clients, especially now, when a lot of yoga teaching is conducted virtually. The majority of the healthcare field is moving toward electronic health records (EHRs) because they help standardize, streamline, and organize information, improving efficiency and decreasing the need for storage space. EHRs have the following advantages over paper records:
Localization. It’s easier to keep all your EHRs in one location. Paper records are misplaced or lost more easily.
Organization. EHRs are more legible and easier to organize and search. You can locate the necessary information within your EHRs by using a search function or sorting by keywords.
Redundancy minimization. With EHRs, there is no need to copy the same information by hand into different forms or documents, and you can make changes to your records more easily.
Portability. EMRs are at your fingertips wherever you have your electronic device and an Internet connection. They don’t take up any additional space, and you easily can carry them wherever you go.
Ease of third-party sharing. Computerized documentation grants practitioners from different disciplines access to clients’ information to ensure care continuity. EHRs will also be necessary for potential insurance reimbursement in the future.
Security. A locked filing cabinet provides less security than a properly encrypted and secured Internet server.
Protection from a natural disaster or criminal sabotage. Paper records are vulnerable in the event of a tornado, hurricane, fire, or flood. They are also at risk if there is a break-in. EHRs allow you to maintain continuity of business following a natural disaster or criminal activity. If you store your records with a specialized recordkeeping service, your EHRs will be safe even if your computer is damaged or stolen.
When you are training yoga teachers and yoga therapists, keeping electronic records becomes even more important. When you give someone a template to fill out, the assignment is much more clear and everybody knows what is expected of them. Typing one’s notes rather than writing them makes them much easier to read and understand. It is much easier to exchange assignments in electronic form than in written form. And, of course, yoga teachers-in-training are establishing patterns that will become life-long habits during their training, so it makes sense to help them form good habits of efficient and regular recordkeeping.
With that said, every practitioner decides for themselves whether they prefer to keep paper or electronic records. Some of us prefer pen and paper simply because we already spend so much time on our screens. If you prefer to keep your notes in paper form, try the Yoga Student Profile Workbook that helps you organize your records. The workbook contains a blank template that you can fill out with information about your student. Each workbook gives you all the forms and templates you need to create a complete student profile and record the contents of 12 yoga sessions.
If you choose to keep electronic records, you can use the Sequence Wiz electronic health records system for yoga teachers and yoga therapists, which enables you to modify your forms, duplicate your notes, make quick changes to your sequences, and more easily exchange information with your students. Our system is HIPAA compliant, and we are happy to help you every step of the way as you transition to our system.