Hunt… Peck… @#$#!!! – Are Your Typing Skills Slowing You Down?

Hunt… Peck… @#$#!!! – Are Your Typing Skills Slowing You Down?
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Many years ago, the practice I was managing decided to become digital. This was early in the days of Practice Management Systems and I remember going to an AAHA conference in Washington, DC tasked with choosing a software company. I chose AVS (the precursor to Cornerstone) and we prepared to get into the modern record keeping world. It was in the early 90’s. 

A few months later our hardware arrived. The monitors were huge but the screens were small and the only color displayed was grey or green. As we launched our first digital tool an unexpected glitch revealed itself.  My practice owner was a terrible typist. We discovered from his high school typing teacher, who was our client, that he had made an abysmal grade in her class and she considered him irredeemable. I myself, had maxed out my high school typing class at a blistering 27 words a minute so I didn’t have room to talk.

The software trainer arrived and patiently walked us through setting ourselves up as a client, adding our pets in the patient record and then we created a pretend invoice as practice. It was about this time that I heard a string of mild profanity and some huffs of frustration coming from my boss. I meandered over to check out the problem only to find he had somehow charged his account several million dollars in services and in doing so had launched rows upon rows of little PacMac looking symbols across the screen.  That was the last time he typed in the system. 

Today it seems implausible that we could have an employee who is not proficient in keyboard data entry but it is still possible that our older team members are not as fast or comfortable as others. It is a constant surprise to me as a consultant to go into a practice and frequently find them using paper medical charts.  One fear is the loss of data but the other is speed.  If you are not a fast typist, writing is more comfortable.  This is a problem simply solved with new technology such as talk to text.

The second challenge of the typist is entering medical chart notes and the time it takes doctors to make complete records. Sometimes this happens after each patient – which is certainly best for accuracy – but more often these charts “pile up” waiting until the end of the day to be recorded.  Now the medical team is charting from memory after seeing multiple patients all during the day and they are often staying late after work to get these charts done. Many practices have a protocol that says all charts have to be complete by the end of the day. I personally agree with this practice as keeping clean, current and accurate medical charts is the best safety net for a doctor’s license protection and best for the patient.  Still, staying after work for an hour or two diminishes the work/life balance we seek to promote for employees.  What if you could talk into a microphone and dictate all those charts at 200 words per minute?

The fastest verified typing speed in history appears to have been achieved by Stella Pajunas-Garnand, typed 216 words in one minute on an 1946 IMB electric typewriter. When you consider that professional typists are expected to manage around 80 words per minute on a computer keyboard, and the average person types at 40 words per minute this is quite amazing. So, unless you are Stella or some modern manifestation of her, talk to text is going to speed your charting up 5 times faster than normal.    What would you do with that extra time?

Diarrhea, Veterinarian, Gastroenteritis. As a manager I have seen my staff spell these words in a multitude of incorrect ways. It was so common that I actually typed the word DIARRHEA and pasted it on all the keyboards in my practice. And let us not even discuss the iterations of the word “Pus”. 😊 How nice would it be if all your charts were correctly spelled along with notes to specialists, or if you are an ER vet – those records going back to your referring doctors. Believe me, we have all had many a good laugh reading some record transfers from other practices. We can stop the madness.

A few months ago, I happened to see a Talkatoo demonstration. This talk to text tool has a huge medical vocabulary and even the ability to add your favorite terms to a vocabulary list.  It types at 200 words per minute and works just as if you were typing into a Word document. I did the demo and was impressed with how quickly it learned my “southern accent” and speech patterns. I saw so much potential time saving in practice with this app. Unlike other talk to text apps it requires no purchase, only a monthly user fee and you can stop it any time. I do suggest you invest in a good microphone to avoid having “woof, woof, meow” typed into your charts. In today’s busy practice environment, we all need to seek ways to improve efficiency, patient care and work life balance for our staff.  Knocking out those charts in record time is one way we can advance all three.

Book a demo to check it out for yourself.

As always, if you need help with team development or your veterinary business systems please reach out.

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