Templating notes improved my healthcare delivery: an anecdote

Recently, I sat down with my trusty practice manager Ken and we went through our monthly profit and loss — P&L — statement, as we do every month about this time.  Excellent business person that he is, Ken noticed an interesting trend.  Lately, my Pneumovax vaccines have been flying off the shelves since I moved to templating my notes on a full-time basis back around April.

Nowadays, all of my new diabetes patients are asked, with nearly 100% precision, when is the last time they had a Pneumococcal vaccine (Pneumovax 23, made by Merck) to prevent bad outcomes in case of pneumonia.  If they cannot recall or find out from a previous doctor, then they are a candidate for this vaccine.  If their sugar patterns are under reasonable control to render the vaccine effective, then I offer to give it to them on the spot.  If not, then I write it into my plans for future visits to rediscuss this when they do reach a reasonable level of control.  I used to give out maybe around 5-6 vaccine doses each month, but for the last three months, the count is up to about 13-15 doses monthly.  Since diabetes patients are pretty much the only people I give this vaccine to, I have to conclude that healthcare delivery is improved for my diabetic population.  Interesting, no?

Dr. West is an endocrinologist in private practice in Washington, DC.  He completed fellowship training in Endocrinology and Metabolism at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Dr. West opened The Washington Endocrine Clinic, PLLC, as a solo practice in 2009.  He can be reached at doctorwestindc@gmail.com.