Stop The Madness: Four Ways To Reduce Frequent Phone Calls…

...so you can focus on the important tasks again.

Mobile phones for doctors have changed the clinical routine tremendously. The pager is gone and everybody can be reached whenever he is at work. Is this a progress? I am not sure.

Turns out that the threshold to contact doctors in semi-important issues is close to an all-time-low while the number of calls and hence interruptions is close to a peak.  

Organize Your Workflow On The Ward With This Strategy And Get Things Done!

Basically, there are two strategies of spending your day on the ward:

Courtesy of IStockphoto.com
  1. Go with the flow and look what’s coming up.
  2. I have a well-structured plan. When unexpected things come up, I modify my plan.

I am a big fan of strategy number 2. Over the years I have learned that structuring your day gives enormous value to the patient, the nurses and myself. With the right plan, you can get more things done and don’t have to put out fires all day long. Here is my plan:

 

In this post I would like to share with you how you can plan your day proactively and an ideal schedule of your own.  I have created an excel template, that you can download for free here.

Click Here For Your Template.

So here is how to create a schedule for yourself and the day on the ward.

How To Be Your Patient’s Hero: Listen.

I don’t know about you, but I have a big problem listening to patients. I mean real listening.

Our daily workload increases all the time, our days become more and more procedure- and action-focused.

Over the years I’ve gotten more and more effective in getting things done. I am totally focused on my stuffed to-do-list and listening closely to a patient rarely is on it.

Rarely do I ask an open-ended question and just wait for the patient to talk for a little while. Usually I just ask for complaints, 1-2 minutes of closed-ended questions and I am off to the next task.

Do Doctors Need The Apple Watch? No, but…

If you’re hoping this blogpost ends with the resume that doctors absolutely must have the apple watch or they can’t fulfill their obligations: I have to disappoint you.

I didn’t purchase the apple watch, my wife gave it to me as a gift when I finished my residency training. I was really thrilled even though I didn’t have clear expectations regarding the service this gadget would provide for me during the day-to-day work…

But there are a couple of features that are quite nice: 

4 Principles For A Focused Handover.

Since lack of time is a major concern in every hospital, I’m quite amazed how time is wasted during handovers. Anecdotes and stories not only distract us from the important facts but cause major delays.

I am not against a joke or story from time to time, I like a friendly atmosphere at work. But I prefer a focused, concentrated handover and a little bit of smalltalk afterwards, if time allows it.

Over the years I have come to learn that there are 4 main principles for a focused handover. Here they are:

Why You Should Leave Your Ward For A  Break

Or: How To Make Sure You Don’t Start Smoking, Once You Work In  A Hospital

On any ward I have worked there are constant interruptions by colleagues, students, nurses, relatives and patients.  Almost all of their inquiries are legitimate and necessary but the sum of them will drive you crazy!

No moment during which your brain can rest. There is no chance to finish a thought. Not only introverts (like me) are worn down by this chronic noise and try to escape.

Why you need a “stop-doing-list”! And 5 things to write on it.

Whenever I want to improve the quality of my work, my first urge is doing more:

  • Read more journals!
  • Attend more conference!
  • Write more case reports!
But rarely does this lead to improvement of my work, because as it turns out:  Time is limited. The day only lasts 24 hours. and cramming too much in these 24 hours only leads t overwhelm.

If you really want to improve in your field, you have to the opposite. Doing less is often more. So stop doing the wrong things, so you can focus on the important tasks.

You need a stop-doing-list: So what should be on it?

1. Stop regurgitating information.

Sometimes I have the feeling we are talking 80% of the time about what we are planning to do and why, instead of just doing it.

Does it really make sense to discuss a patient with the colleague from the previous shift, with your boss, another consulting doctor and the radiologist? Remember, nothing gets done by talking.

2. Stop talking:

Easy on the smalltalk: I know, I know, keep the atmosphere nice, having a chat with the patients and the nurses is important. But I only use it as a time-filler, when I have to spend time with the patient.  (during procedures etc). But besides that, I focus on the job.

3. Stop over-documenting:

Document only relevant things. The little amount of time left over after talking about our patients and what we are going to do with them is easily consumed by our legal obligation to document.

This was well meant, but as Tucholsky said: well meant is the opposite of well-done. So keep it focused, short and simple.

4. Stop letting others interrupt you:

Easier said than done. Of course you have to answer the phone. But many times I’ll ask: „What’s up, this an emergency? I’m in the middle of something”

At least the caller gets to the point right away. Many times they don’t call me again. Also, keep your door closed. Leaving your door open is like begging to be interrupted.

5. Stop confusing „chaos” with pseudo-emergencies (which will again cause interruptions):

When I started my career,  urgent matters constantly kept coming up, most of them caused by my lack of organization. All of these things were urgent and showed up as emergencies.

Better organization, preparation and pro-active thinking would have prevented most of them:

  • Patient goes to angiogram and has no IV-Line.
  • Patient about to get a pacemaker but written informed consent is missing.

By the way, I’m not opposed to working hard and much. We just have to spend our time with things that are useful and avoid ineffective working habits.

Question: What habit goes on your Stop-Doing-List? Leave a comment below!