I recently came across an article published by Becker's Hospital Review entitled, "Physicians were burnt out long before EHRs, according to this 2002 report." While it's true practitioners have been frustrated about managing administrative tasks and paperwork/EHR work for 15 or more years, it doesn't have to be this way! My best advice: spend just an hour each month learning the ins, outs, and yes, SHORTCUTS, of your EHR. Instead of fighting with the system – become an EHR "Super User"! Read on for my top three tips…
When I visit clinics to help them optimize EHR use, there is a clear difference between the super users and other users. While the super users may still have complaints about the system, they are nowhere near as frustrated as the other users. This is because they have invested the time in understanding how to leverage the EHR to significantly speed up their everyday workflow.
Most EHRs have built-in "accelerators," tools and shortcuts similar to what you find in Microsoft Word or Excel, for greater efficiency. The problem is most physicians don't bother to learn them because they've either exhausted many systems in their career or there is not ample time in the day to do anything other than "survive" in the clinic. But taking the time to learn to use something you use for hours a day every day pays off, and investing as little as an hour each week learning to better use your EHR has been shown to increase physician satisfaction.
Here are my top three tips to get you started
- Make sure you understand and spend some time loading your system's "macros." You want to make checking off boxes or typing a rare, unique action, not a routine one. One rule of thinking is that if you are doing the same thing the third time, you should spend a moment to save it, memorize it, macro it or whatever your system calls it.
- Get a good tool for finding diagnosis codes. I recommend Problem IT Plus. Try it and you'll thank me if you are doing this now without it.
- Make sure you understand how your system enables team-based care. Allowing everyone to practice at the top of their license and contribute to the delivery of care is crucial. Empower the care team to create notes and use automated tasking and messaging within the EHR whenever possible.
It is an exciting time for healthcare IT: leverage tools such as the EHR and allow them to help you refocus on the business of medicine instead of the business of administration. It takes an extra hour or so a month, but allows you to focus on the three things that matter most: your patients, your practice, and yourself.