A Very Special Note

As technical people, we sometimes forget the human aspect of the work we do. Having inherited the responsibility of supporting our Note Form Reporting solution, I spend a good amount of time sifting through note data for client reports and integrations on the back end. While I know that a clinical note contains information that may be vital to a patient’s condition, it still looks like a blob of text when I pull it from the EHR. When I talk to our Note specialists on the services team like Litisha, Christy, and Noah, I begin to get a sense of how notes are being used by providers. A well-crafted note allows a physician to fully document an encounter, see questions that ensure certain assessments are performed, easily work through questionnaires with patients, and to review it later in a standard format. I can then extract the note to a normalized database with Note Form Reporting and create quality reports and automate charges, but I still only see the data.

There are some things even the most well-formed note and custom report cannot capture about an encounter. I happened upon a note from an ER doctor that many of you may have seen go viral earlier this month. The ER doctor stated that this was the first note she had handwritten to a patient in over 20 years. Even if I tried, I would not be able to translate the significance of this note into an easy to use data structure.


The interaction between the doctor and the patient combined with the love that held the patient’s family together was so powerful that the ER doc went out of her way to make a personal connection with a patient’s family days later. This is something that is not documented in a digital note. Sometimes a good old fashioned, handwritten note can convey a message that a digital note never could. When we go the extra mile for patients and clients it may go undocumented, but it never goes unnoticed.

As one commenter posted: “Most physicians I’ve encountered seem jaded that far into their careers.” While this comment may be true to some extent, this doctor breaks the mold. As technical folks, I ask you to follow in this ER doctor’s footsteps and remember that the everyday work we do touches patients and providers alike in ways that we may not see right away.



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