No end in sight from documentation fatigue
The bustling Friendship Hospital for Animals in Washington DC sees approximately 95,000 patients a year. When the COVID pandemic hit back in 2020, patient load grew by nearly 30,000 with many of those patients requiring emergency treatment.
Days at the hospital can get over-the-top busy for staff veterinarian Dr. Klippen, who typically works with other doctors like criticalists, staff doctors, interns, and newly graduated veterinarians. Over the course of a 24 hour period, the team can see anywhere between 30 to 50 cases. Plus, there are commonly between 20 to 25 hospitalized patients to care for.
More and more, Dr. Klippen said she noticed doctors were staying several hours after their shifts ended to finish up documentation and paperwork. Dr. Klippen herself was faced with two to three hours worth of typing out notes when she arrived home after a long shift. With a growing caseload, there seemed to be no end in sight for these overtime hours.
“The amount of extra time we were spending on paperwork was significant and it was starting to bleed into our days off. I’m a single parent, and so that time is very precious to me. [My son] didn’t understand why mommy needs to sit at the computer when she’s not [at the hospital] working. During COVID, my son started kindergarten, so I was having to referee virtual kindergarten while doing my own work from home, and that was a nightmare.”
The stress from long, emotion-packed days was compounded by the extensive overtime hours spent on documentation. It was taking a toll on the mental health of hospital staff and Dr. Klippen was worried it was all becoming too much for her and her team. “I just remember thinking, ‘Oh, my God, I am legitimately sitting in front of a computer every day and I just didn’t want to do it anymore.’ I love emergency medicine. This is the only type of medicine that I would actually practice and I don’t want something as silly as paperwork to make me want to do something different. Because I’m good at my job. I’m good at being an emergency doctor. And I just said, ‘enough is enough’.”
Meet Dr. Christine Klippen
Dr. Klippen has worked as a veterinarian for 13 years at various specialty hospitals around the country. She landed in the emergency and critical care unit at the busy Friendship Hospital for Animals in Washington, DC in 2015, where she now works.
Growing up in Northern Virginia, Dr. Klippen’s love of medicine bloomed early on. Before becoming a vet, she followed in her mother’s footsteps and worked as a registered nurse after securing a Bachelor’s in Nursing sciences from George Mason University.
After deciding veterinary medicine was her true passion, Dr. Klippen moved away to Colorado where she received her undergraduate degree in Animal Sciences as well as her DVM from Colorado State (2009). She joined Friendship Hospital for Animals in 2015. Thriving in high-pressure situations is her superpower and she admits the fast-pace, variety of cases, and challenge of solving complex cases is what keeps her looking forward to her work each and every day.
“I just remember thinking, ‘Oh, my God, I am legitimately sitting in front of a computer every day and I just didn’t want to do it anymore.’ I love emergency medicine. This is the only type of medicine that I would actually practice and I don’t want something as silly as paperwork to make me want to do something different.”Dr. Christine Klippen, Staff Veterinarian
A little help during ramp-up went a long way
Dr. Klippen calls documentation and typing “the bane of [her] existence,” and so finding an alternative for herself and her team became a top priority. She decided to give Talkatoo a try to see if it would help take some of the pressure off. When she started out, she found Talkatoo took a bit of getting used to.
“There’s definitely a learning curve and I’m not computer savvy. I can do certain things, but [when you have to start adjusting] settings, I just don’t have a lot of patience for [that].” Dr. Klippen said ramp-up time was hurried along with help from the customer success team who walked her through simple settings changes that she says made all the difference. “These little itty bitty things can make or break your experience [with the software]. When [your team] showed us these simple fixes I was like, ‘Oh wow this makes it better.”
Dr. Klippen also took some time to sort out all the different ways Talkatoo could be used in her day-to-day practice life. Once she mapped it out, it was easy for her to fully lean in. Now Dr. Klippen says she uses it for client communications, emails, documenting history during phone calls, for discharge instructions, and more.
Putting a stop to endless extra hours spent on paperwork
At the end of the day, Dr. Klippen notes her big win with Talkatoo is that she’s able to finish her records before her shift ends. “There’s still going to be those days where I end up having to do my records at the end of the shift or after – like if I have a really sick patient and need to be present in those moments – but for simple, straightforward things, I can very easily document and get my stuff done right away.
Dr. Klippen has found a number of ways to use Talkatoo that have not only helped to cut her documentation time, but also ensure notes are detailed and accurate for legal, proper home care, and other reasons. “If I’m not typing my history while talking to someone on the phone, it’s definitely something I’m transcribing right after the fact. I deal with very sick patients and so prognosis, treatment plans and costs are important to discuss and give accurately. I’m using Talkatoo to document my client communications and discussions with the pet owners faster. And that’s what’s really helped with expediting the process of getting my records done before the end of my shift.”
To help facilitate patients with speedy recovery, Dr. Klippen has created her own templates to fill in for discharge and home care instructions. “I can talk all I want, but with emotions heightened most people don’t retain half of the information I give and so those take home instructions are also [vital]. I use templates I’ve created and then just fill it in with dictated notes – [Talkatoo makes it] fast and accurate.”
“I’m using Talkatoo to document my client communications and discussions with the pet owners faster. And that’s what’s really helped with expediting the process of getting my records done before the end of my shift.”Dr. Christine Klippen, Staff Veterinarian
Better days ahead for staff who get out of the hospital faster
Talkatoo also has been beneficial for some of the less experienced doctors at the hospital who are still discovering all the ins and outs of proper documentation. “I was taught to appropriately document in [nursing] school––they don’t teach new graduate veterinarians or newly minted specialists how to appropriately document––I know that [documentation] is still a challenge and a learning process for new graduate veterinarians and so utilizing some dictation can help with maintaining the accuracy and hopefully improve the quality of the records. It can help them appropriately document to get all the important things in so they’re not spending two to three hours at the end of their shift [completing their notes].”
Others in the hospital are finding their own ways to implement Talkatoo into their workflow. “Some of my colleagues use Talkatoo a little differently, they actually have the dictation software on in the background as they’re speaking to clients so they’re killing two birds with one stone (doing the exam and note-taking at the same time!).”
Never tried dictation? Dr. Klippen has this advice…
“Give it a fair shake. To expect any dictation software to be 100% accurate the first time is just not reasonable – all of us talk-to-text using our cell phones, and everyone laughs at the autocorrecting that occurs and that’s how people need to approach dictation software. You can’t ride a two wheeled bike right off the bat, you fall down, but you [eventually] figure it out. It just takes practice and I think dictation software takes practice like that.”