5 strategies to spend less time on charting lactation visits

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Staying up too late to chart your visits is a problem that so many lactation consultants (and other healthcare providers) struggle with. I’ve got some ideas that may help you reduce the amount of time you’re spending on charting without sacrificing quality or client care.

Schedule an admin block

Carve out regular time to catch up on administrative work. Instead of trying to do a little bit every day, take one client slot every other week and do it all at once. Close Facebook, turn off your notifications, and just plow through. Trust me, everything can wait and you’ll be way more efficient if you’re using dedicated time rather than tacking it on to the end of the day.

If you’re really feeling behind, I don’t recommend trying to solve that by taking an entire day off to catch up on absolutely everything. The promise of a whole day might encourage some procrastination, and before you know it it’s lunch time and you’ve only accomplished a small fraction of what you’d hoped. You might need to do weekly admin blocks in the short term, to get your systems organized, then drop down to biweekly.

Create paste-able protocols

Harness the power of copy and paste by writing up your protocols once and for all. You don’t need to be rewriting your triple feeding plan from scratch every single time. Write it up like you’re writing it to a client, only remove any names or identifiers, and then put it into storage so you can access it quickly.

You could keep them all in Notes or Google Keep, or as documents in Google Drive or Dropbox or iCloud. Because these are standard templates without any client-specific information, you don’t need to worry about employing privacy protections.

Those of you who want to take it to the next level can use apps and solutions like PhraseExpress or keyboard shortcuts or text shortcuts on your computer, phone, or tablet.

Use your voice, not your fingers

Consider using voice memos to chart parts of your visit that involve a lot of narrative. Google Keep, a G-Suite service, allows you to record voice memos in the form of notes. It’s covered under G-Suite’s Business Associates Agreement, meaning it can be used in a HIPAA-compliant way. You can make a note with the client’s name or record number, and record narrative there. In the chart, you’d just add “see file in Keep for narrative.”

You can also look into transcription services designed for medical practices. They’ll be cost-prohibitive for many IBCLC private practices but if you have heavy client volume you may decide it’s a necessary expense.

Chart less when you can

While some elements of our charts need to be detailed because they’ll be shared with our clients, others can be less detailed. Think of it like a movie set—the front that you see on camera is so detailed and realistic, but behind that facade it’s messy. The only parts that have to look good are the parts that someone else will see. The part only you’ll see? Shorthand, shortcuts, abbreviation, messy, no formatting—think of creating triggers that make sense to you and that could be deciphered in the event that your chart is audited by the insurance company.

Create a resource page on your website

You’ll want to handpick some links for your clients, but think about putting your go-to links on your website so that you can send your clients there for general information like “resources for returning to work” or “information on tongue tie.” Not only will this save you some time charting, but it’ll help boost your SEO.

Conclusions

Charting is a necessary part of our IBCLC workflow, but finding ways to be more efficient and save time can prevent burnout. It’s all about developing sustainable practices and saying YES to yourself.

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About the Author

Annie Frisbie, MA, IBCLC is the creator of the IBCLC Private Practice Essential Toolkit, a collection of books, resources, legal forms, training manuals, and workbooks aimed at helping private practice lactation consultants build a private practice that’s ethical, profitable, sustainable, and enjoyable.