Flip No. 40

Find new efficiencies by tracking annoyances

How a “Spare me!” button for physicians could lead to better clinic visits

By Flip the Clinic

Developed at Flip the Clinic Lab: Phoenix

Every day, clinicians face a bottleneck. The amount of time allotted for patient appointments just isn’t enough to meet the patient’s needs. What’s worse is that the patient-clinician interaction is riddled with redundancies and inefficiencies—delivering the same message every appointment, pausing to update the electronic medical record, as well as a host of other small things that aren’t the best use of the clinician’s time. We even have documented cases of pop-up fatigue causing EHR users to blur through something like a critical alert, confusing it with that of a standard medication interaction alert.

Wouldn’t it be great if each clinician was given a “Spare me!” button inside the electronic health record, that would allow them to log these inefficiencies in real time? With extended use, collecting data on these clicks could reveal powerful patterns on a clinic-by-clinic basis about what tasks might be better reallocated to another member of the health team or to an available technology. Making one tweak to the clinician-patient encounter is a small step in the right direction, but by making several, clinics can increase employee satisfaction by redesigning the visit so that everyone is operating at the top of their abilities. With happier clinicians and appointments fine tuned for effectiveness, the Spare Me! button could positively influence the patient-clinician encounter.

Because the programming to make this possible has yet to be designed, a light-weight pilot version could be built with sticky notes — if physicians carried around a stack, they could jot down tasks that they’d like to be spared from. Tallying those responses over time would also allow clinics to identify what tasks could be delegated. If the system is successful, developing a technology-enabled “Spare Me!” button might find wider support.