With many doctors experiencing burnout in their practices, some perceive EHR as yet another stressor facing chiropractors.
While additional work created by regulatory changes and administrative tasks can certainly create stress and increase burnout, you can actually use EHR strategically to become more efficient and shorten your work day.
Your workflow and EHR
According to one article in Family Medicine, practices that promote a joyful physician experience offer plenty of opportunities for doctors to focus on their work and minimize unrelated tasks by using technology and administrative support. Practices use workflow planning to uncover communication problems, administrative needs, and hidden inefficiencies.¹
By figuring out what causes frustration in your office, you can identify practical ways to bring more joy into your work. EHR can be your ally. Instead of growing your workload, the right EHR can actually make your job easier. If you already use EHR but it frustrates you, you may need to troubleshoot your use of the software and look for places where your workflow needs improvement.
Begin mapping your workflow by looking for repetitive processes, redundant filing and charting, or for situations you encounter during your workday that lack a defined process. Consider the work your staff members do and look for these same challenges. There may be communication problems, confusion about work processes or even a need for additional training because these are likely your problem areas. EHR can help with many different types of productivity and process issues with enough time spent on continuous improvement to root out potential problems.
If your workflow mapping efforts reveal any weak areas in your practice, you may need a new process, policy or strategy for whenever these challenges resurface. If staff members are involved in the troubleshooting, you may arrive at reasonable solutions faster, so remember to include the entire team in the process.
EHR to the rescue
For many doctors, these sources of frustration and burnout also consume too much of the workday. Wherever possible, you should cut redundancy out of your workday and automate tasks that are not directly related to patient care. EHR can make this possible if you have the right software, adequate training to use it well, and the right workflow.¹
If any of these areas are lacking, then you may struggle to optimize EHR use in your office. EHR helps whenever it increases efficiency. If using software is actually slowing you down, then you may need to reevaluate how you are using it. Some strategies to improve your EHR use include:¹
- Delegating your inbox: If there are messages and alerts that do not require your expertise, you may delegate them to your CA or office assistant and have a plan in place for which messages are delivered to you.
- Pre-planning meetings: Before the day (or appointment) begins, see what can be delegated or addressed before your patients arrive. These meetings are also a great way to improve your communication with the team and solve problems as they occur. There may also be health tests that your team can perform instead of you, saving valuable time.
- Delegating documentation: Some documentation and filing can and should be performed by an assistant, including some EHR use.
The federal government’s Health IT website, www.healthit.gov, offers a guide to navigating the use of EHRs while also minimizing negative outcomes of using the software. This guide recommends observing the use of EHR in your office to discover ways to improve your work processes and solving the root causes of EHR challenges directly instead of allowing symptoms to derail your work.
Become an EHR “power user”
With some time investment, you may become best friends with your EHR. This requires conscious effort to investigate software use problems and a willingness to consider multiple possible solutions with your team. Keep improving and you may reduce your burnout levels.
¹Sinsky CA, Willard-Grace R, Schutzbank AM, et al. “In Search of Joy in Practice: A Report of 23 High-Functioning Primary Care Practices.” Annals of Family Medicine. http://www.annfammed.org/content/11/3/272.full.pdf. Published: May/June 2013. Accessed: June 2016.