An innovative program aimed at helping UC Davis Health physicians better manage their work in the electronic health record (EHR), avoid burnout and improve patient care is expanding. The program will now engage physicians at ambulatory care units in partnership with the Office of Continuing Medical Education.


The Physician Efficiency Program (PEP) has helped more than 500 UC Davis Health faculty physicians and residents in 50 specialties since it began in February 2018. It has also received national attention from Epic – the corporation behind the EHR software. Now PEP is seeking to engage all primary and specialty care ambulatory physicians, as well as expand to inpatient care units in 2020.

“We’ve trained for years to use our stethoscopes, endoscopes and laparoscopes, but we also need to maintain and improve our skills with the EHR,” said Scott MacDonald, M.D., the health system’s EHR medical director and PEP leader. “It’s a valuable tool that shapes so much of our practice, and a little training helps reduce physician stress and increase job satisfaction.”

As part of its transformation, PEP partnered with the UC Davis Health Office of Continuing Medical Education to develop a continuing medical education offering that is certified for credit.

“This was a wonderful opportunity for our office to support an innovative program focused on the use of health data for care improvement,” said Sandhya Venugopal, M.D., associate dean of continuing medical education. “The PEP team helps physicians to navigate electronic health records, increases physician and patient satisfaction and reduces the extra-hours that physicians put into the EHR. These are important goals in today’s health care environment.”

How Does PEP Work?

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About 12 weeks before a visit to a clinic, the PEP team starts compiling data from the EHR about how each physician and the clinic as a whole utilize the EHR system. A pre-visit survey is sent to all physicians and then the PEP team arrives to conduct a half-day shadowing session to better understand the clinic’s workflow.

Each physician then receives up to four hours of individualized, one-on-one training. This training is held during clinic time at a 50 percent reduced schedule to allow for practice charting. Each physician leaves this training with an individualized efficiency plan.

Additional weekly one-hour group discussions are held to address each clinic’s unique struggles. Each onsite PEP engagement typically lasts three to six weeks. During this time the PEP team works to optimize the EHR platform for each clinic, building new digital tools as needed.

Next Steps for PEP

In order to engage more physicians, the PEP team is doubling in size and adding more trainers. Melissa Jost, manager of the Physician Efficiency Program, said the ultimate goal is to make sure every physician associated with UC Davis Health has the opportunity to receive ongoing specialized electronic health record training – especially since the initial reaction to the program has been so positive.

“The most frequent feedback we receive after working with a clinic is: ‘When are you coming back?’ To address this question and to better accommodate the need for continued education, we are expanding the team to provide for quarterly rounding within clinics,” said Jost. “Additionally, we are developing Epic’s first-ever inpatient optimization program, modeled after our current ambulatory PEP approach. We look forward to expanding our program to help physicians in our inpatient care units.”