EMR systems can be useful because they retain a lot of vital information. But the entry of that information has become increasingly labor intensive. A 2016 study unsurprisingly found that physicians who were dissatisfied with the amount of time spent on administrative tasks like EMR faced a higher likelihood of burning out.
Can you imagine a way to decrease the time and clicks it takes to do some of this work?
Can you imagine completing the documentation for an inpatient consultation in less than 5 minutes and still hitting all of the points that are important to you and satisfying billing requirements?!
In this article I am going to highlight two simple tricks for increasing EMR practice efficiency that will decrease administration burden and bring us greater return on our time.
EMR Practice Efficiency Tips
It can be daunting to try to build from scratch the various types of notes and phrases that allow efficient documenting of routine patient encounters and procedures. This often leads many energetic surgeons and physicians to give up and lose valuable time. This can result in either increased time typing or dictating to input the data.
It can be intimidating to start to build your own templates. Remember that these do not need to be perfect. If you have phrases or notes you can write or dictate without thinking, then you probably have a template and you just need to write it down.
Here are two simple tips to limit the time you spend documenting routine patient encounters:
- Types of Notes – To start, pick a common note that you use frequently, like a rounding progress note or common operative note.
- Types of Phrases – Think about phrases you type commonly whose repetition results in annoyance or typing errors. Find alternate smartphrases to replace these. For example, as an orthopaedic surgeon I converted “displaced intraarticular distal tibia fracture” with a smartphrase of .PILON.
Well-Being and EMR Efficiency
Some studies show that physicians will spend twice as much time with the EMR system compared to time spent in direct patient care. I don’t know any physicians that entered medicine because they love data entry. While EMR can be helpful, it can also be detrimental to our well-being if we don’t have ways to limit its impact. Templating with best practices for notes and phrases has helped my practice, and it can help yours too.
Need help implementing next steps to improve EMR efficiency? Structured coaching has been extremely helpful to me personally, and I believe that it can be helpful to many others as we seek greater satisfaction from the practice of medicine.
About the Author – Ryan Will, MD
Dr. Ryan Will is a board-certified and fellowship-trained orthopaedic surgeon specializing in trauma care. After finishing his orthopaedic residency at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Hamot in Erie, Pennsylvania, he completed an orthopaedic trauma fellowship at Regions Hospital in St. Paul, Minnesota. Currently, Dr Will works in a private practice in Olympia, WA.
Ryan has been involved in physician peer coaching for 5 years and completed 20 hours of physician coach training. His specialty is in improving practice efficiency through EMR templating and process improvement.
When he is not seeing patients or coaching, Dr. Will enjoys hiking, mountain climbing, cooking, and spending time with his family.
Relationship Between Clerical Burden and Characteristics of the Electronic Environment With Physician Burnout and Professional Satisfaction. Shanafelt TD1, Dyrbye LN2, Sinsky C3, Hasan O3, Satele D4, Sloan J4, West CP5. Mayo Clin Proc. 2016 Jul;91(7):836-48. doi: 10.1016/j.mayocp.2016.05.007. Epub 2016 Jun 27.
A Time-Motion Study of Primary Care Physicians’ Work in the Electronic Health Record Era. Richard A. Young, MD | Sandra K. Burge, PhD | Kaparaboyna A. Kumar, MD | Jocelyn M. Wilson, MD, MPH | Daniela F. Orti Fam Med. 2018;50(2):91-99.