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Is cut and paste in EHR software really such a bad thing?

Posted on November 22, 2010 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 13 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

The following is a guest blog post by Dr. Michael West. I recently met Dr. West and was really impressed with his approach to EHR. After reading a few of his comments on the site, I asked if he was interested in doing some guest blog posts. This is the first of what I hope will be many more blog posts by Dr. West.

Dr. West is an endocrinologist in private practice in Washington, DC. He completed fellowship training in Endocrinology and Metabolism at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Dr. West opened The Washington Endocrine Clinic, PLLC, as a solo practice in 2009.

When, I was in residency at a large health system in Pennsylvania, several of the residents and interns got into the habit of templating hospital notes on their home computers the night before they would go in to see patients who were chronic players with multiple medical problems who would often stay for long times in the hospital. I’ll openly admit that I was one of the many who bought into the perceived need to make things more efficient in order to get out of the hospital sooner and have a better home life. The concept was simple: design a pre-templated note for each chronic patient, detailing the plans (which would rarely, if ever, change), and then save it and mass produce at will. Of course, this did not go over well with our purist administration who were in charge of ensuring the highest quality, authentic notes for each patient on each day. In their correctness, they noted that sometimes these notes would be put into patient charts without those small changes that would, in fact, take place from day to day, thus resulting in erroneous documentation.

Now, years later, in the world of EHRs, there seems to be a push-back against the “cut and paste” concept. I know this is out there for two reasons: one, because I have read a blog or two citing it, and two, because I have enjoyed doing it myself. In the cut-and-paste world of computerized documentation, it’s addictively efficient. Gutenberg, the inventor of the printing press which allowed mass production of books and changed the world, would be proud. The responsibility for using such powerful efficiency does fall to the individual health provider to carefully review, edit, add and subtract documentation to ensure current accuracy. However, if done correctly, it allows careful preservation of a summary of what came before.

For this, I have some personal recommendations. First, actually DO the editing, don’t just cut, paste, and sign. Second, go back and refine the previous note for word choice and economy. Otherwise, you will create endless run-on documentation that is unprofessional in appearance and a burden for your colleagues to wade through later. From a billing perspective, it facilitates and supports that you have actually reviewed the patient’s previous history rather than just asking them what’s going on today. I find that cutting and pasting the old plan prompts me to consider everything I was trying to accomplish after the last visit and promotes holding the patient accountable for getting all of their previous orders accomplished. If something was not followed up on by the patient despite my recommendation, then this definitely gets documented in the current note. And then, of course, I ask them to “try, try again.”

I find nothing inherently wrong in this process and my patients get the benefits of an accurate portrayal and review of their conditions with appropriate follow up evaluation and managent. So cut, paste, edit, and save your evenings for yourself, rather than dictating entirely new notes that regurgitate the same old information. Work smart, while still working hard.

A Few EMR and Healthcare IT Blog Recommendations

Posted on I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 13 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

As you know on the weekend, I try to do my simple posts since most of you are enjoying the weekend like you should.

Today I thought it might be interesting to point to a few different EMR and healthcare IT blog recommendations. This is far from an inclusive list. In fact, I could probably do this every weekend and not repeat the same blog recommendations. Maybe I will! Especially since then as I read various other blogs I can remember to make note of it. So, for this post I’ll start with some popular ones that many people know about.

Fierce EMR – I really like the work that Neil Versel does and Fierce is lucky to have him working on their EMR content.

HIStalk – This is often a bit too hospital focused for my tastes. They do have HIStalk Practice which is more ambulatory focused and has gotten better as Inga’s focused on it more.

Chilmark Research – I really enjoy John’s blog. He does a good job analyzing HIE, EHR and mobile healthcare. The only complaint is that he doesn’t publish enough, but that’s ok. When he does publish it’s almost always an interesting read.

The Health Care Blog – My only complaint about The Health Care blog is that often times it has a lot of posts that aren’t related to health care IT. Although, it does have a strong group of health care IT bloggers that do some great IT and EMR related posts.

Like I said, there are dozens and dozens of other ones. These are a few of the ones that have been around for quite a while doing their thing. I’ll cover some more of the other blogs I enjoy next time. Or you could just keep reading this site and my other blogs (EMR and EHR & The Wired EMR Practice) where I try to write about a lot of the major happenings in the EMR and healthcare IT world.