Charting is considered a “necessary evil” by many physicians, because it pulls providers from patients and often results in a lengthy, tedious process.
According to a Health Affairs study, doctors spend just as much time working behind the desk as they do seeing patients. This includes performing charting tasks. However, there are tactics you can employ to speed up the process and chart efficiently. Here are five ways to improve your electronic health record (EHR) charting:
1. Make EHR Charting a Team Project
If you're still charting on your own, it's going to take you longer to get the job done. Instead, make it a team effort by getting your staff involved. For instance, you can easily have your nurse or medical assistant document your patients' medical history and chief complaints. They can also reconcile the allergies or medications of your patients.
2. Study Your EHR Like You’re Studying Your Specialty
You spent countless hours studying to become an expert in your chosen specialty. This intensive training served as the basis for your success as a resident and now a practicing physician. Likewise, investing time to learn your EHR will help you better unlock the full functionality of your system, thereby saving you time and simplifying your charting tasks. Take the time to get to know your system and discuss ongoing training with your vendor.
3. Automate the Charting Process
Make automation a routine part of your charting process. Customizing templates allows physicians to chart with a few clicks of their mouse. This allows you to focus on your patients instead of your screen. Also, templates do not negate the fact that charting is still a personal process. Ensure that you follow up with your patients' charts and personalize them to fit the needs of each visit.
4. Document Only What You Need
Since every detail doesn't require documenting, it doesn't make sense to chart information that doesn't pertain to the visit. Instead, limit documentation to the information you need. Also, don't hesitate to share your notes with your patients—sometimes they can uncover mistakes or unnecessary content that may slow your charting time.
5. Get the Patient Involved
Ideally, patients should update their own information. Patient portals allow them to do just this, offering them the functionality to review their health history and key demographics, such as age, race, and ethnicity. Inform your patients about the portal during check and in emails. Also, be prepared to give basic instructions on how to use it.