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Fam Pract Manag. 2023;30(5):39


If you're transitioning to a new electronic health record (EHR), or still struggling to use one you've had for years, maximize your training opportunities and learn to personalize your settings. This will cost you additional time up front but save you hundreds of hours in the future. The better you understand your EHR's functionalities, the more efficiently you can navigate it during patient encounters.

For starters, attend all in-person training sessions your employer or EHR vendor offers, and ask your vendor about ongoing training for more advanced tips and tricks. One of the best ways to get additional training is to volunteer to become an EHR “superuser” (for example, I'm an Epic physician champion). At our organization, we lobbied to have additional admin time (paid time not seeing patients) for superuser physicians each week of our EHR implementation.

If you have templates or order panels you'd like to replicate in a new EHR, seek assistance from the EHR trainers or in-house IT support. Take advantage of customization options within your new system as well. You can tailor the layout, note templates, and ordering preferences to match your specific workflow and documentation needs. To limit redundant manual entries, prioritize creating smart phrases, note templates, order panels, and automated in-basket quick text. (See the FPM blog post “A starter list of EHR macros to save time on documentation.")

Learning a new EHR can be challenging, but by investing some time up front, you can develop an efficient approach that allows you to focus on your patients during visits.


As a published author, I've long enjoyed creative writing, but during the COVID-19 pandemic I discovered it also helped me cope with the stresses of professional life as a doctor.


To share this gift, I started a writing group this year for physicians and others that we call “Words for Wellness.” Our group emphasizes the art and craft of writing — not the basics of grammar, but more advanced skills such as word usage and how to structure a story. Our mission is to learn, share, and grow through writing.

Our monthly meetings begin with a review of our progress, a brief skills training session, and then an exercise in spontaneous writing in response to a prompt, the results of which we share in a supportive fashion. Our small group has grown from seven to 20, some of whom participate remotely. We hope others can benefit from writing as we have.


An exploratory study published online by JAMA Internal Medicine showed that artificial intelligence (AI) chatbots such as ChatGPT or Google BARD could generate potentially useful and empathetic responses to patient inquiries.1 My personal experience has yielded similar results.

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Practice Pearls presents readers' advice on practice operations and patient care, along with tips drawn from the literature. Submit a pearl (250 words or less) to FPM at

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