Novel Note Templates to Enhance Signal and Reduce Noise in Medical Documentation: a Prospective Improvement Study

Link to article at PubMed

JMIR Form Res. 2023 Feb 15. doi: 10.2196/41223. Online ahead of print.


BACKGROUND: The introduction of electronic workflows has allowed for the flow of raw un-contextualized clinical data into medical documentation. As a result, many electronic notes have become replete of "noise" and deplete of clinically significant "signals". There is an urgent need to develop and implement innovative approaches in electronic clinical documentation that improve note quality and reduce unnecessary bloating.

OBJECTIVE: To describe the development and impact of a novel set of templates designed to change the flow of information in medical documentation.

METHODS: This is a multi-hospital nonrandomized prospective improvement study conducted on the Inpatient General Internal Medicine Service across three hospital campuses at the New York University (NYU) Langone Health System. A group of physician leaders representing each campus met biweekly for six months. The output of these meetings included 1) a conceptualization of the note bloat problem as a dysfunction in information flow 2) a set of guiding principles for organizational documentation improvement 3) the design and build of novel electronic templates that reduced the flow of extraneous information into provider notes by providing link outs to best practice data visualizations and 4) a documentation improvement curriculum for inpatient medicine providers. Prior to go-live, pragmatic usability testing was performed with the new progress note template, and the overall user experience measured using the System Usability Scale (SUS). Primary outcomes measures after go-live include template utilization rate and note length in characters.

RESULTS: In usability testing amongst 22 medicine providers, the new progress note template averaged a usability score of 90.6/100 on the System Usability Scale. 77% of providers strongly agreed that the new template was easy to use. 68% strongly agreed that they would like to use the template frequently. In the three months after template implementation, General Internal Medicine providers wrote 65% of all inpatient notes with the new templates. During this period of time the organization saw a 46%, 47%, and 32% reduction in note length for general medicine progress notes, consults, and H&Ps, respectively, when compared to a baseline measurement period prior to interventions.

CONCLUSIONS: A bundled intervention that included deployment of novel templates for inpatient general medicine providers significantly reduced average note length on the clinical service. Templates designed to reduce the flow of extraneous information into provider notes performed well during usability testing, and these templates were rapidly adopted across all hospital campuses. Further research is needed to assess the impact of novel templates on note quality, provider efficiency and patient outcomes.

PMID:36821760 | DOI:10.2196/41223

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