Templates are supported by most EMRs and for many providers they are a vital feature of their medical practice. If you don’t already use customized templates for patient documentation, here are five reasons they might improve your workflow.
1. Efficient documentation
Many providers find themselves typing large pieces of text that reoccur based on common visit types. Templates can streamline documentation by allowing providers to only key in the specific data elements needed to capture what’s unique about each patient visit.
2. Better patient care
In addition to creating efficiencies, templates have the added advantage of reminding providers to ask patients specific questions. As EMRs get smarter, vendors are extending this functionality by incorporating clinical decision support tools that provide alerts and reminders to clinicians during patient care.
3. Standardized data
Structured, discrete and coded data is the key to effective healthcare analytics and population health management. Standardized data also supports accurate coding and reporting, which are more important than ever with the move toward value-based reimbursement models based on measurable outcomes. Templates can help support the capture of clinical consent in a standardized and structured manner.
4. Fewer under-billed appointments
Templates can act as a checklist to ensure more complete data fields across the EMR. Many practices find that by incorporating and optimizing templates they see fewer under-billed appointments.
Of course, it’s worth emphasizing that templates don’t make sense in all contexts and that pre-built templates can only go so far. To make the most of the EMR, customize templates to match your unique workflow.
While customization requires some upfront effort, the initial investment is small compared to the long-term benefits. Most vendors will instruct clients in template design and EMRs usually include options to customize templates on the go by saving modifications created during one encounter.
See this best practices brief from AHIMA for general considerations to ensure clinical documentation remains accurate when implementing templates.