It’s been an interesting process of going through the first two years of my practice’s business development. On that note, several priorities have come to light as my practice manager and I begin to consider bringing on a new doctor to help with seeing additional patients.
In searching for the ideal candidate, my priorities seem to center around the next doctor’s ability to use an EMR successfully and at a highly processive rate. When charting on paper, slower doctors can let charts go piling up on their desks, uncompleted in some fashion and with additional work needed before they can be put back in the filing area. But this will be fairly impossible to abide by in my practice, where the doctor is expected to see about 20 patients daily and complete and sign their notes by the end of each visit. Or at least that will be the goal. If I can perform such a basic task (and I can, typically), then I will be looking for someone who can also. How they do it doesn’t matter much to me, but one thing is for certain: it must be done, or else risk a freeway pile-up of unfinished and unsigned charts that spirals out of control. Since my notes are faxed out to referring doctors the very next morning, there is little time to dilly dally in completing them.
Another skill that will be needed is the ability to move at a quick clip between various screens and applications in order to do other parts of the job. These parts include reviewing digital faxes on the computer screen (no paper printouts here unless absolutely necessary), using PDF editing software for filling out and signing such documents electronically, return faxing such documents, sending in numerous prescriptions and refills for medications electronically, and answering patient messages routed from staff to the electronic message in-box.
It’s fairly inherent that, regardless of whether they want to dictate a little here or there as needed — which I have done from time to time –, the next doctor will need to be a pretty fast typer. You just can’t get around electronically today without it, and sadly most people don’t have this skill. So my word to the wise: learn this skill no matter what your next job is. It’s invaluable.
Now, I’m not planning to have the next doc type in all their notes from scratch, which would even be pretty hard for me to do. That’s where the ability to learn new computer skills on the fly, such as learning how to build your own templates, will also be an essential time-saver that I will be looking for during my interviews.
In short, I will be looking to hire someone with excellent computer skills. Believe me, I’m sure it will be easier said than done. I bet my smart readers out there can already start to get some images in mind of what the next doctor in my practice will probably be like.
Dr. West is an endocrinologist in private practice in Washington, DC. He completed fellowship training in Endocrinology and Metabolism at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and opened The Washington Endocrine Clinic, PLLC, as a solo practice in 2009. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.