Physician Practice

Save time by letting patients set pre-visit agenda through EHR, patient portals

Physician Practice Insider, May 2, 2017

Give your patients the opportunity to set an agenda ahead of their office visits and you may witness improved patient engagement and clinical outcomes — while also saving yourself a significant amount of administrative time.

A new study appearing in the Annals of Family Medicine found that “collaborative agenda-setting” — or allowing patients to add to the visit note and pinpoint the issues or problems they would like to cover before an office visit — improved communication, helped prioritize the visit, and gave providers greater understanding of the patient’s concerns.

“Our study shows that overwhelmingly patients like it,” reports lead author McHale Anderson with the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle. The approach — based on the Open Notes initiative that seeks to expand patients’ access to their medical records — can help reduce redundancy by limiting the number of times a patient has to repeat the reason for her visit.

Think about what happens when a patient makes an appointment, it’s excess repetition, says Anderson. “You tell the receptionist, you tell the receptionist again and then you tell the medical assistant,” he sighs. Opening up an agenda “puts everyone in the clinic on the same page when the patient walks in the door,” he adds.

Getting a pre-planned agenda also can rev up the efficiency of your practice by saving your providers substantial documentation time, notes Joann Elmore, M.D., a practicing internist at the Adult Medicine Clinical at Harborview and professor of medicine at the University of Washington, Seattle.

As co-author of the study, Elmore sought a fresh way to improve the clinical experience at her office. “I was hoping to actively engage the patient but also save time, to be perfectly honest,” she says. By having the patient submit the subjective portion of the required documentation for the chart, “that would save me time as a provider,” says Elmore, who adds that she was often finishing documentation in the evenings and weekends.

“The patient’s contribution to the medical record is an untapped universe,” says Dan Mingle, president of practice consultancy Mingle Analytics in South Paris, Maine. “To whatever extent the patients can contribute to record-keeping, that can take the burden off [physicians’] shoulders.”

This article originally appeared on Part B News. Log in to read the full, detailed article here.

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