What Is Stopping You From Charting On Time?Nov 09, 2023
For a long time, I thought I was doing everything I could to be efficient, to finish my patient charts as fast as I could. The results did not reflect my effort though. I was leaving work at least 3 hours past my clinic hours and was still bringing work home.
What was the problem?
You could say that, as a physician, having to do patient documentation is the problem. It is true, if you do not have to write anything in the electronic medical records, you would likely safe a lot of time. At the same time, you would probably spend time in the future figuring out what you did and what you thought about the patients.
As patient documentation is not something to skip, let us work on how to be more efficient and complete the charting on time.
I did it and am still doing it.
You can do it too.
Before we talk about the “how”, let us explore the “why”. Why are you charting after hours?
For me, one of the biggest reasons was that I believed I had to keep the patients on schedule. I had to keep the patients to be as close to their appointment times as possible. In order to do that, I resolved to sacrificing my charting to do it last.
When I had that thought of keeping my patients on time, I believed that was the way. As I have always held punctuality as a virtue, I believed that keeping my patients on time was a sign of my respect for them. I believed good doctors should keep their patients as close to their scheduled times as possible. As I was focusing on my patients’ time, I felt pressured to keep up with the rigid schedule. The fifteen-minute time slots for established patients were often not adequate for cancer patients. I thought I was doing everything I could to be efficient, and having open charts at the end of my clinic day was an irreversible situation. I felt stuck and discouraged. While I was doing my best to keep my patients satisfied, I was sacrificing my time, my sanity and my life. I ended up not thinking about what other ways to improve my charting methods, as my focus was on the patients’ schedules.
My commitment to keeping the patients to be seen on time resulted in me not finishing my charts in a timely fashion. I created a life of barely living because I did not get to have much time outside of work. As much as I wanted to put my family first, I was clearly not doing it.
What is your belief that is holding you back from finishing your charts on time? There may be many reasons. For now, pick the most prominent belief. Examine it carefully and thoroughly. Is it true? Is it the absolute truth?
I invite you to keep an open mind. What if your belief is not true?
What would it be like if you no longer have that thought or belief? How would you feel? What would you do differently if you no longer have that thought?
Back to the example of my journey. I was challenged by my coach about my belief. What that belief was costing me was that I was sacrificing my time. I ended spending more time to finish each patient chart at the end of the day. I was getting tired, distracted, annoyed and frustrated. The thought of not being able to spend more time with my family further infuriated me.
Some of you probably have a similar experience.
I kept an open mind. I sought help. As I did not know where to go, what to do, I looked for guidance. My coach helped me. She pointed out what I was thinking before I realized that was what I was thinking. What if it was okay to let patients wait an extra few minutes, until I completed the previous patient’s chart? I tried that thought of possibility. It was not comfortable at first. As I was focusing on seeing a patient and doing that chart right away, I was giving myself the permission to let patients wait a little longer. What I did not realize was that I was spending less time to document, and I was able to concentrate on the patients better, one at a time.
Now I am consistently going home around 5 pm, seeing 20-27 patients a day.
What is stopping you from completing your charts and going home on time? Be curious and explore what your beliefs are and question them. If you feel stuck, do not hesitate to seek help. Some things are more obvious when others look at them from a different perspective.
Are you ready to stop feeling stressed and overwhelmed? Are you ready to have more time to do what you want?