Are Your Doctors Counting Too Many Clicks?

Burnout in healthcare is on the rise.

Doctors, nurses and other professionals are leaving the profession not because they’ve lost their passion to help people. They haven’t given up learning and finding solutions to improve patient care. What’s changed over the past 20 years (since the requirement of electronic healthcare records across medical discipline) is the headaches, trials and frustrations associated with clicking through electronic health record systems.

In short, healthcare is burning out from too many clicks.

I’m sure you’ve already experienced some of this pain already. You get into work in the morning and log into your flavor of EHR, what do you spend most of your time doing?

Maybe you’re inputting records from patients you saw yesterday? Maybe you have to review the records of patients you have to see that morning?

What used to take you less than an hour when you could refer to a paper chart might take you triple the time simply to get a sense of how your patients are doing and what specifics you might need to focus on in your meeting.

I’m sure you have a computer in the examination room, or at least a COW (computer on wheels) to input essential notes from the visit. Instead of focusing on your patients, you probably are typing into that computer anything the patient is saying of importance or anything you notice while performing the examination.

What originally was meant to make healthcare more accessible and easier for you and your patients might not have worked out quite as planned. Digitization of medical records comes with a lot more responsibility when it comes to ensuring your records are complete and secure.

Here are a few tips to help you and your users manage their time on your EHR:

Document what’s important. The first step is to modify how you document an issue (in IT we have to do this all the time when issues pop up for our users). Document only what you need and nothing more, to ensure you have continuity of the record. Ensure that billers have sufficient information to bill and that you have enough documentation in the event of a malpractice suit.

A few things to consider when writing out your notes:

Does it have to be full sentences?

Do you have to have perfect punctuation?

Does every word have to be spelled correctly?

Do you ever need to use the semicolon key?

And by the way the answer to all those questions is no. So, document in minimal dataset. D not write the great American novel, right? Are you with me? Only put in there what you have to and no more. That’s number two.

Use the automation features in your EHR platform. While this might sound obvious, most users are resorting to manual input of information, which consumes an inordinate amount of time. In most cases, your EHR was meant to be automated. It’s meant for you to use templates and was in most cases designed to make your lives easier. Do you ever find yourself typing away and thinking “This is the 14th time I’ve input this data!”? If you ever feel like that, you’re likely not effectively using your EHR platform’s automation tools.

Let me give you a little homework over the next week. As you’re working in your EHR, write down a list of things that you are documenting over and over again (things that are taking up your time that you think shouldn’t be). Prioritize this list and find out ways to either make templates or find out about whether you are able to automate these parts of your workflow. Every few months, revisit this exercise to ensure you are effectively utilizing your time with your EHR platform.

Use your team. One of the things that you should remember when it comes burning out is if you are a super hero that is doing everything, you’re never going to get it all done. As time goes on, you and your colleagues will burn out with your EHR platform.

Get help from your team to help document and curating records. Start by asking your team and colleagues about issues you are having with your workflow. If you are having a particular issue, in all likelihood, someone else has had that issue, too. They even may have found a workable solution for it. Bottom line: use your team to trouble shoot problems and figure out solutions.

Clicks are a major headache in modern healthcare. My message to you is there are solutions out there. Whether you are having issues with IL7 (getting your records over to business associates or other colleagues in a format they can use), recording information into your platform, getting the proper reporting out of your EHR, or having to click too many times to prescribe some Tylenol, there are solutions to your issues. And healthcare information technology specialists are here to help get your and your team through these hurdles. 0

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