Using EHR Templates to Reduce Provider Burn-out

Using EHR Templates to Reduce Provider Burn-out  

A recent Time article linked EHRs to provider burn-out.

There is a better way.

Somewhere in your EHR transition you may have heard about templates.  Not templates that just give options, but templates that actually pre-select typical normal values and orders – and then let you make changes.

Perhaps you’ve seen the 6 page EHR produced note for a sore throat with a physical exam covering everything from the shape of the patient’s skull to the fact they have hair on their feet (you know I’m not kidding)!

Such notes have given way to logical fears those using templates that automatically check anything will get a provider “in trouble”.

However, if you think of the old pre-EHR days when you used exam forms (and checked a bunch of normals) or used “all other systems normal”, there is nothing wrong with taking a shortcut to documentation as long as you in fact performed the exam, took the information from the patient, etc.

Templates can greatly reduce repetitive documentation and actually free providers to concentrate on what is wrong with the patient.  For example:

  • Try using a template to indicate all your normal findings on Well visits – then uncheck and note any abnormal findings
  • Use age and gender based templates to note the typical orders on Well visits – such as immunizations and other normal orders.  You can remove and note any orders not required for a particular patient
  • Create order sets using templates for labs and other orders that are typically ordered together, including the billing codes

If you’re leery of using templates start small with some well visits and order sets and then gradually build templates for your most common sick visits.  Don’t include items in your templates that often vary from patient to patient and don’t include items you don’t perform for 90% of the applicable patients – you can always add items during the visit.

Also consider using templates as a guide for the staff – your EHR may have color coding or allow you to include the beginning elements of a template area as a guide to staff that you want them to collect than information for these types of patients.

The bottom line is that good templates can reduce a provider’s time, improve documentation and are perfectly acceptable when used correctly.