Since most EHRs are astronomically priced, getting the most from your system is imperative. Tip #1 – the most important aspect of using an EHR in your practice is to get in the habit of documenting as much as you can while in the exam room with your patient. Subjective and objective data should easily flow into the EHR, and completing as much of your assessment and plan during the encounter translates directly into whether you’ll be home in time for dinner.
This may seem obvious, but you’d be amazed how many physicians spend hour after hour at the end of the day trying to recall the visit and stumble through multiple menus and windows trying to get the data into their EHR. If you find that documenting with your EHR takes as long as the patient visit, you’ve experienced first-hand why the concept of EHR usability is now becoming a critical issue, and why some unhappy physicians are calling for EHR Lemon Laws.
This leads to Tip #2: codify only the data that needs to be codified. Though many EHRs, designed by programmers and database administrators, have decided that every bit of data deserves its own database field, this is not feasible given the volume of information generated during a visit. While medications, allergies, blood pressure, and other data needs its own place, being forced to check box after box to record “three days of dry cough,” makes little sense and ensures you’ll be spending more time doing your notes than you did when using paper charts.
Finally, Tip #3 is to be sure to harness the power of your staff when using your EHR. Having staff enter demographics, document as much of the chief complaint and HPI as possible, and doing other tasks within the EHR can save you valuable time. Most EHRs have an integrated intra-office messaging function that can really boost office productivity, and encouraging your staff to use it for everything – including refill requests and confirming your lunch order – should be a priority.
Any tips you’d like to share with readers?