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Carrying Forward Efficiencies Learned During the Pandemic

Mobile tools and streamlined documentation help physicians at Northwestern Medicine work efficiently during the pandemic

Northwestern Medicine in Chicago has a strong focus on clinician well-being. When they began responding to the coronavirus pandemic, they knew they needed to go even further to help staff adapt to the changing work environment.

Northwestern expanded their use of Epic’s Haiku and Canto apps for phones and tablets so physicians could document more efficiently. They also slimmed down documentation requirements and created simplified note templates so physicians could automatically pull in the most important information for patient care. Additionally, Northwestern streamlined clinical workflows across disciplines to help with increased patient loads.

The initiative was successful, so Northwestern plans to evaluate which changes to keep after the pandemic response winds down.

“We gave physicians more time to focus on the needs of their patients without creating new work for other staff or a backlog of work to address later,” said Dr. Thomas Moran, Northwestern’s VP and CMIE.  “Our next step is to go back to the way we were documenting before the pandemic and ask: What is really needed for patient care and compliance, and what can be trimmed out?”

Northwestern Medicine was one of many Epic community members to provide efficiency tools to nurses and other clinicians in response to the pandemic.

“We’ve been able to take ideas from other organizations and apply them here,” said Lea Ann Arnold, DNP, RN, Director of Nursing Informatics NMHC at Northwestern. “We didn’t have to start from scratch, and that meant we could make changes quickly to help clinicians adapt to the new work they’re doing.”

For more information on clinician efficiency during the pandemic, Epic community members can refer to the Managing Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) With Epic white paper, which is updated regularly with new guidance.