Readers of a certain age may remember the WABACK machine. It was the fictional time travel machine featured in the cartoon “Peabody’s Improbable History,” which was a segment from the “The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show.” In every episode, Mr. Peabody, an intellectual, bespectacled dog and his “pet boy,” Sherman, used the WABACK (pronounced “wayback”) to go back in time. They would usually encounter problems that threatened to change the course of history. They would then solve the problems before returning safely to the present. The duo’s misadventures never failed to entertain.

On a recent visit to my dermatologist, I thought I had actually stepped into the WABACK machine. As I entered the waiting room, the receptionist handed me a clipboard full of medical forms. The forms had been photocopied so many times over the years that the words were blurry.

I sat on a couch in the corner and filled out the forms, scribbling in my date of birth, address, employer’s name and address, insurance ID number, group number, medical history and other details. It was a laborious process that hadn’t changed since the 20th century. This was time travel alright, but I wasn’t amused.

When I handed the clipboard back to the receptionist, she rifled through the papers and said, “You forgot to fill out the HIPAA form.” Instantly, I was back in 2013.

Do your patients feel like they’re stepping back into the past when they visit your office? If so, toss out your clipboards and replace them with tablet computers. Start using Electronic Medical Records to keep track of your patients’ medical history, insurance data and other vital information, and move all that data to the cloud. Capture their testimonials on video and post them to your website. Install software that lets patients make appointments online.

The past can be a fun place to visit, but make sure your practice isn’t stuck there.

Andrew Karp
Group Editor, Lenses and Technology