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6 Life Hacks for Doctors

Posted by Hattie Hayes, Mar 25, 2016

Life as a physician is hectic, to say the very least. When you aren't busy trying to run an efficient practice and provide as much quality care as possible for your patients, you're spending time with your family and enjoying hobbies of your own. Keeping it all organized is tough!

We've compiled some little ideas that can make your day-to-day simpler, more efficient, and more fulfilling. And in the long run, these small strategies build up to a better life, week by week and month by month. These are our favorite life hacks for physicians.

  1. Use "If This, Then That" Systems.

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    There are a couple different ways to use this idea in your practice. For starters, create some "If/Then" standing orders. These are instructions for nurses, office staff and even patients to follow in specific situations. Give a little thought to potential next steps for every task your team completes, and you'll spend less time on back-and-forth communication. Rose Raymond gives a great example on TheDO.org blog: If you've asked your nurse or office staff to call a patient with lab results, then have your staff schedule a follow-up appointment immediately if the patient has questions. If you're looking for another way to use this productivity strategy--well, there's an app for that. If This, Then That automates certain actions between your smartphone and tablet apps to increase efficiency and help manage your life. Using the "recipes" in IFTTT, you can automatically message your spouse every time you leave work, or add all new contacts to a Google spreadsheet. Spend less time on reminders and to-do lists and automate the little things.
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  2. Don't Sacrifice Patient Flow for Documentation.

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    It's tempting to document your interactions with a patient totally in real-time. Technology makes this seem doable, t00--filling the fields of your EHR while evaluating a patient? No problem! Consider, however, how it can impact your patient flow. You need to work smarter, not harder. Don't worry about filling in every single field in your EHR if it isn't relevant, and don't sacrifice time with patients to record complex data in your health record. Make a few notes, and go back to that documentation later. Your patients will thank you--you'll be more present during the visit, and you'll be able to see more patients per day by shortening the length of each appointment.
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  3. Try Keyboard Macros.

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    Speaking of EHR and EMR: do your fingers get exhausted from relentlessly filling out forms, paperwork and documentation on your computer? Try adding some keyboard shortcuts to your life. These macros are combinations of keys that automatically generate text or perform an action. If you use boilerplate text in your emails, for example, save thirty seconds in every message by using a macro. You can use this strategy with your EHR, too, for common notes and descriptions that would otherwise take a few seconds to type in. It's a great strategy to avoid errors as well--as long as the auto-generated text has no errors and you use the macro correctly, you'll get a perfect, typo-free block of text every time. Make sure you follow these guidelines to use this documentation strategy appropriately, and reduce your risk of mistakes.
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  4. Embrace Systems and Routine.
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    This one seems simple enough. As a physician, you likely already have a routine that stays the same every day. But when we say "embrace routine," we really mean it! Create a system and stick to it, no questions asked. Block out specific time each day for tasks, and don't perform those tasks at any other time throughout the day. Thirty minutes at the beginning and end of day for emails? More than enough time. An hour after all appointments to double-check and complete documentation? Perfect. Do work when it needs to be done. Trying to be proactive is wonderful when it works, but too often getting some work done "early" is just a way of procrastinating other tasks. Have your office staff build habits this way too, so when you walk out the door at the end of every day, you know exactly what's been completed and what should be first in your inbox tomorrow.
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  5. Use Downtime for Education.
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    Meet your long-term goals and get more out of your downtime by dedicating it to self-improvement. Do you have a long commute? Listen to audio seminars or podcasts en route to work and get your mind ready for the day. You can even earn some continuing medical education credits while you're at it! Desperate to catch up on your reading? Download an app that lets you browse medical journals or read relevant health news on your lunch hour. Once you have a workflow system down pat, you can use your free time for things you want to do, not playing catch-up on miscellaneous tasks.
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  6. Have An "Off" Switch.
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    We really, really mean this: leave work at the door. The purpose of all these efficiency tricks is to make your home life even better, but you do need to be mindful of your work-life balance in order to improve it! Don't let physician burnout become an aspect of your life. Turn off notifications for your work email, don't bring paperwork home, and make family plans over the weekend. You'll appreciate your off time even more when you really are on a break.
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We'd love to hear your physician lifehacks.

Leave us your strategies in the comments!

Topics: eVisit Blog Posts, burnout, doctors, life hacks, nurses, physician burnout, physicians, Practice Management, work life balance, workflow

Hattie Hayes

About Hattie Hayes

Hattie Hayes is the Content Marketing Intern at eVisit. A journalism student at Arizona State University, Hattie has reported on a wide range of topics in business, media, and government.

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