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Charting New Territory: Tips for Switching to Electronic Charts

By Alison Taylor

After working with practitioners in clinics for over 10 years, I know how hard it is to leave paper charting behind, even with all the logical reasons to switch: reduced supply costs, no storage or shredding, off-site access, improved legibility (although I never trust a practitioner if I can read their writing - ha!), and so on. I started one clinic with electronic charting right off the bat, but transitioned two others over after years and years of paper charting.

Despite all the upside, people still fear the unknown. Many therapists are deeply attached to the familiar, tried-and-true workflow of the pen and paper, and we get that. But in this interesting article, Jeremy McAllister BScPT, MHA warns of succumbing to these worries and, in doing so, remaining professionally paralyzed by paper. He is of the opinion, and I agree, that the switch to EMR is the new standard.

That’s why Jane works so hard to make the switch to electronic charting not just easy, but actually kind of exciting. Here are five things to keep in mind when making the move:

1. Start charting on whatever device you’re most comfortable with. Learning to chart online while also figuring out how to work a new computer or tablet can be tricky. My advice is to start charting on whatever tool you use already. If you’re starting fresh, or you’re looking for better mobility, we have many clinics using iPads with a bluetooth keyboard. That and Chromebooks is what we use at my clinics. Because Jane is web based practitioners can use almost any device with an internet connection. Make sure to use Chrome on any laptop, PC, or Android device and Safari on iPads and iPhones

2. Create a template to chart exactly the way you want. We’ve been asked for stock templates before - but have found that every practitioner treats so differently that a template built by us would serve almost no one. So you can create a customizable chart that fits your practice and your treatment style. Use building blocks like note fields, check boxes, drop downs, custom images and photo or video uploads. You should also keep in mind the device on which you’ll be charting. Templates for a touch screen device might be different than for a laptop. On an iPad you can take advantage of drawing on images, dictation and loading images directly into charts. On a computer you might prioritize typing or check boxes. And check out the template library to see how others are charting! The lovely Jane community are building templates and sharing them for others to use. How nice is that.

3. Get ready to chart in two minutes or less per patient. We know you’d rather be treating patients than doing endless admin. Our goal is that you would be able to chart in 3 minutes or less and that you’d maintain some of the things you love about paper, such as custom templates, text, images, and easy reference to past entries; while also gaining some new exciting electronic features like having searchable entries, the ability to duplicate past entries and automatically adhering to charting regulations.

4. Train and involve your staff. Sit down with your staff and figure out workflows. When charting electronically it works well to build a template that makes sense chronologically, so ask your practitioners about how they structure their patient interactions. Make sure they know the best way to chart (from the Day view - opting in to templates etc) and that templates can be changed to make them more useful.

5. Plan for paper. There are some forms that you just can’t avoid. Paper intake forms for those that aren’t comfortable with computers,or specific insurance or consent forms. In my clinics and many of others using Jane, people are laminating the form on hard card stock and then people fill them in using erasable markers. Then scan in the form and erase the form for the next use.

Remember, we’re always here to help. If you need to build a template or have questions about transitioning from paper feel free to drop us a line.

And check out this video on charting from the day view to see some of Jane’s charting features in action.