As an acupuncturist, the SOAP notes you take are essential to providing the highest level of personalized care for your clients. It is important that you are able to access the information quickly and in a format that is easy to understand and navigate, particularly if you have an extensive client list. This is possible when you transition from paper appointment notes to digital notes using AcuCharting on your iPad. AcuCharting is a great way to eliminate the inefficiencies that come with creating and maintaining notes by paper.
In order to enjoy the benefits of digital SOAP notes, you must first make the switch. This is accomplished by going through a process that allows you to become accustomed to managing your digital appointments.
1. Plan a Pilot Program
Before completely immersing yourself in digital appointments, you should select a certain number of clients for a pilot to begin your transition. Select from among the clients you see on a regular basis, who have various backgrounds and receive different acupuncture treatments. This diverse group of clients will get you familiar with managing your appointments digitally across a wide range of cases.
2. Preparations for the First Day of the Pilot
Before meeting with your first client, consider the following: Ensure that you are able to operate the iPad without any complications. Your iPad should be charged and placed in its dock. It is important to have the device docked not only for accessibility, but to be a reminder of where the device should remain when you are not using it during a consultation with your client. Make sure that you can unlock your iPad and log on to AcuCharting without any complications. This is the time to ensure that there will be no delays or obstacles that you have to address while you are with your client. You want to avoid having to waste time by trying to get the device and the app to work for the first time during an appointment.
3. Start Taking SOAP notes
When your client arrives, remove the iPad from its dock and begin to take SOAP notes. You should start off with the features that are easiest for you to use which communicate the most information. Familiarize yourself with the multiple formats; photo, audio, typed, and handwritten.
4. Review the Results of the First Test Case
After your client has left, take a look at the notes you took and determine if there is any information that you failed to include. Make notes and go back to revise as needed. The goal is to make sure you can easily comprehend your notes in this new format.
5. Continue Using AcuCharting
Continue to use AcuCharting for a few weeks. Ensire each client you selected to use as a test case has multiple appointments so that you become accustomed to digitally navigating your appointments. After each appointment, set aside some time for a thorough review of the notes you took. Did you provide enough details about the appointment? If you or another practitioner has to view the records in the future would there be any doubts about what took place? Are you able to recognize any important trends as you navigate quickly between records? Also, try using as many of the features of the app as you can, as long as it is applicable to your client’s appointment. This may include:
- Taking various types of SOAP notes; photos, audio clips, typed or handwritten
- Exporting to a PDF and printing an appointment list for the day, week or month
6. Conduct an Overall Evaluation of the Pilot
As the testing period begins to wind down, evaluate your overall experience with the app and the process. Here are some important questions you should ask yourself:
- Was using the program quicker than making notes by paper or on a computer?
- Are the AcuCharting notes more informative?
- Are you able to easily navigate your appointments?
- Has the delivery of the acupuncture services you provide to clients improved as a result of using AcuCharting?
7. Begin to Transition More Clients
Now that you have a handle on creating, amending and navigating through your appointments, it is time to start transitioning more of your clients’ records to the platform. An efficient way to accomplish this is to set aside time on the evenings before your next work week, or on the night before your next day of appointments, if you have many clients, and create a new digital client record for every client that you will be meeting with at least once. You want to begin transposing the paper records that were taken during the most recent appointment in order to easily access the most current client information. After you have added the most recent appointments for all your clients, you can go back later and digitize the records for earlier appointments. With this method, you will have your clients’ complete records at your disposal. Once you have transitioned the records of all your active clients, you can transfer the paper records to archival storage and free up space at your practice to enhance your services.
Transitioning from paper to digital appointment notes is a process that can take several weeks to complete, depending on the size of your client roster. Keep in mind that the objective of the process is for you to become accustomed to creating and accessing your digital notes to become a more efficient acupuncturist.