There is no question that technology is now a permanent part of healthcare. Over the course of my five years of residency I have seen my workplace routine become increasingly entangled with new software. Although some are resistant to these changes, I think technology can improve resident quality of life.
This is how:
Streamline your workflow using templates and order sets. Invest early and update routinely.
Both of the EHR platforms that I work with (EPIC and CPRS) allow physicians to create templates and/or customize order sets. Creating original templates and customizing order sets early in residency can pay dividends in time in your later postgraduate years.
Templates and customized order sets can also be utilized as built-in clinical reminders to trainees. For example, as a second year resident, I made a template for ureteral stones in which I listed the relative indications for emergent ureteral stent placement. This served as an internal reminder and also helped me commit these to memory. Customized order sets can also help ensure patients receive the appropriate discharge instructions based on their condition. As graduation nears, the templates and order sets I have created can be printed as notes.
One extremely important caveat is to take the time to update templates to ensure accuracy whenever needed.
Apps are friends, not foes.
Mobile apps that are approved for clinical use by your hospital can be extremely helpful. I use the Haiku App to find patients in the hospital, look up lab results, even check the OR status board — all helpful information while I am on the go in the hospital. Beyond accessing information, the “media” function can augment the patient chart by allowing users to directly and securely upload images into Epic.
In an age when dictation has taken a back seat to templates and typing, Nuance’s PowerMic, which syncs to Dragon, is making dictating convenient enough to use again. This app turns your phone into an accurate voice recognition microphone, which can be used within any window of the Epic EHR.
Finally, I cannot stress how helpful the Dialer feature is in the Doximity app. If you aren’t using it, take a few minutes to set it up and try it. It allows physicians to make calls to patients using their cell phone without divulging their personal phone number. Physicians can program the number they would like the patient to see on their screen. If you’re a resident that takes patient phone calls at home, you can list a triage line when returning calls from patients.
This is better than blocking your number for three reasons:
Your time is precious, and software can keep you from squandering it!
It’s 7 p.m. You just got home and have to prepare for journal club. But, you also want to scroll through your social media. Before you know it, an hour has gone by. We have all fallen into this trap. Luckily, widgets for your browser and apps for your phone exist to keep you focused. I use stayfocusd.com. It times me out of websites after an allotted time of surfing. Although somewhat frustrating, it does save me a lot of time. You can customize it based on your needs. They also have a mobile version, which I have yet to try.
Imagine the same journal club scenario, but this time you’ve forgotten your login and password to access those articles. Fifteen minutes later after resetting your password, you finally start reading those articles. Save yourself the time; invest in a password management system. After spending a few days researching the options, LastPass worked best for my needs. There are several options out there.
We are all probably guilty of having a book or two lying around our place waiting to be read. I’ve used the time I spend commuting to the hospital listening to audiobooks. I listen to about 1–2 books a month on my 30-minute commute. While subscription services like Audible are well known, I’ve really loved using the free OverDrive app through my public library.
I’m always interested in trying out new software. What apps are on your home screen? How do they help you?
Giulia Ippolito Lane graduated from Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine (’13) and is a current urology resident at the University of Minnesota (‘18). She is matriculating into a Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery fellowship in July 2018. She is also a 2018 Doximity Scholar. Follow her on twitter @GiuliaILane.