Wouldn’t it be great if you could type faster? Or if your computer knew what you were thinking and just put those words to the screen? Well, we’re not living in a Star Trek world yet, but there are some tools out there to get close.
Text Expanders are small software programs that let you connect a short keyboard stroke into longer, more useful text. So for example, you could set up a short cut to replace “rx” with “treatment”. Now whenever you type “rx” in your email or treatment note (or anywhere, really) it will be changed to “treatment”. You can expand multiple words as well. So we could set “^co” to change to “Patient complained of…” and suddenly you’ve saved yourself 3 words. Or if you want to get more crazy, “Rec-chest3/4” can turn into “Have recommended patient focus on chest stretches 3 times a week for 4 weeks”.
The key to successful shortcuts is that they need to be short and succinct enough that you can easily remember them but long enough that they’re actually useful. Changing “ppwlslp” to “Patient presents with left sided lumbar pain” probably isn’t going to be the most useful shortcut, since no one will ever remember it. You also want to be careful not to include abbreviations that could be typed in normal words. If we set “apt” to “appointment”, then suddenly “adapted” would become “adappointmented”, which doesn’t save anyone any time. You can get around that by either choosing keystrokes that are unique, such as zx, or by including symbols in front (like my ^co example above).
I personally have been using one called TypeIt4Me (http://www.ettoresoftware.com/products/typeit4me/), which has been great if you’re a Mac user. For Windows, PhraseExpress comes recommended http://www.phraseexpress.com
Check them out to help speed up writing your treatment notes!
_Update: _I’ve since switched to TextExpander and absolutely love it.