An initiative launched health system-wide this February, known as the Physician Efficiency Program (PEP), is helping UC Davis physicians to better manage their work in the electronic health record, increasing job satisfaction and giving physicians more time to focus on what they do best – care for patients – while also caring for themselves.
The program’s initial results were so strong, the group received an invitation from EPIC to present at the national Epic User’s Group Meeting in Verona, Wisconsin, this week. The results showed a 12-percent increase in physician satisfaction, 24-percent increase in physician efficiency, and an average reduction of 25 hours less per month in time spent working after hours per physician trained.
Modeled after a successful project piloted in four UC Davis Health clinics last year and expanded with the full support of health system leaders this year, PEP is led by Scott MacDonald, the health system’s EHR medical director, and program manager Melissa Jost, who oversees six analysts. Teams of three are deployed to clinics to train and build features within the Epic platform.
Each team spends up to six weeks in a clinic monitoring workflows, reviewing EHR-use metrics and working one-on-one with each physician to personalize and optimize their use of EHR tools. The goal is to engage all primary and specialty care ambulatory physicians by 2020.
“While working in the EHR will never be as easy as using a smart phone, given the complexity of healthcare, the goal is to eliminate cumbersome steps that have minimal clinical value and waste the physician’s precious time,” MacDonald said.
The PEP team conducts weekly “PEP Talks” in the clinics where they are working, to discuss common areas where the clinic as a whole is struggling, such as ordering medications, labs and procedures in a timely manner. They also work with physicians to build shortcuts and clinic-specific templates. These range from chief complaint speed buttons and snapshot reports, to macros that facilitate documenting common reasons patients see physicians, such as well-child visits or addressing flu symptoms.
Jost said that a lot of planning goes into each clinic session. About 12 weeks before a visit, the PEP team starts compiling EHR-use statistics for the clinic as a group and for each physician. Clinics also reduce each physician’s patient schedule by 50 percent to allow time for the training sessions right in the clinic during normal clinic hours, with team members also available for follow-up questions or sessions on site.
“In the end, it’s an approach that is better for physicians, patients and health care institutions combined,” she said.