ATLANTA, GA – In a development that may have implementations for charting and medical documentation and all the health care professionals lucky enough to do it, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has estimated that pictures are now worth 2300 words, up from the usual thousand, thanks in part to a surging economy and strong U.S. dollar.
“It’s about time,” explained Acting Director for the CDC Dr. Anne Schuchat. “For the longest time, pictures have been worth a thousand words. With the increased value of pictures, you have to wonder if orthopods were onto something, using emojis in progress notes. Perhaps they are smarter than we think. Perhaps they predicted the higher communicative value of pictures over words.”
Alongside the opioid epidemic affecting patients, there has been a parallel epidemic among health care professionals: burnout. Leading experts on burnout think that the cumbersome and neverending documentation process is certainly contributing to the escalating levels of burnout seen across all subspecialties over the past decade. A shift from charting with words to charting with pictures is the logical remedy.
“Have you even seen an infectious diseases consult note? There’s like 4,000 words in there,” burnout specialist and KevinMD author Dr. Kevin Pho told Gomerblog. “If pictures are worth 2300 words now, imagine if that same infectious diseases consultant conveyed the same critical information in only two pictures, perhaps even a smiley face? This could be charting’s holy grail.”
To be clear, charting’s holy grail is eliminating charting altogether. As this is unlikely in the near future, using pictures instead might be the solution. The stronger value of the picture against the word may help foster a shift from copy & paste to draw & paint, and health care professionals wouldn’t mind that one bit.
Hospitalist Janine Burrows is not wasting any time making the transition. “Sitting in front of a computer screen for hours on end is so bad for you. It’s bad for the eyes, bad for the back, bad for the psyche,” she confessed. She kicks over her computer and whips out a canvas and easel with a whole spectrum of colors with which to point. “Screw a discharge summary, I’m doing a discharge painting! Way less words, way more fun!”