In this modern clinical practice, the doctors need to share medical information first in an oral presentation and written progress notes, this includes physicals, histories, and soap notes. Actually, SOAP is an acronym for Subjective, Objective, Assessment, and Plan. These are the notes that enable the practitioner to document all the appointments of patients in a more organized manner.
Here is some detailed information about SOAP notes in Medical Record.
What is a SOAP note?
A SOAP (subjective, objective, assessment, and plan) note is a method of documentation specifically used by medical providers. These notes are used by the staff to write and note all the critical information regarding patient’s health in an organized, clear, and quick manner. Soap notes are mostly found in electronic medical records or patient charts.
How does a SOAP note work?
Let’s understand the functioning of SOAP notes with an example.
A patient comes inside a hospital with a swollen arm but has no idea or diagnosis for the issue yet what it could be. The physician will attend the patient and will write a basic document in the structure of SOAP notes.
The doctor will begin with the subjective component. Note that each of the components will be different according to the patient and the stage of notes getting written. A lot of notes get written at several points until the patient gets completely revised.
⇒ Commonly, the subjective component includes these details:
- The age, gender, and race of the patient
- The chief complaint (like the CC is arm swelling in the above case)
- The time chief complaint happens
- The point of the chief complaint occurred in the body
- The level of chief complaint’s severity
- Details and description about the chief complaint
- Any relevant medical history
The doctor will move to the objective component of the SOAP note after writing the subjective component. In this component, the doctor needs to write what he observed, what the patient is displaying, and what the patient has told. The doctor will also write down if there would be any findings of any tests that the patient gets done before the meeting.
⇒ These are the points that the doctor needs to make sure he noted in the objective component:
- Major measurements and signs like weight, blood pressure, etc.
- Findings after physical examination
- Results from the diagnostic exam and laboratory
The doctor will move to the assessment component after completing the objective component.
⇒ Here are the specific points about the assessment component section:
- The analysis of the issue
- The possible diagnosis of the issue
- Any relevant info about the progress of the issue
The plan is the final component of the SOAP notes. In this case, the doctor needs to create a post-session plan.
⇒ The basic points the plan includes are:
- Medication prescriptions
- Referencing to any other medical department
- Additional tests needed
- Further appointments
Some of the medical centers require the detailed SOAP note for review and approval by the high authority and the rest medical centers want a specific SOAP note write for uploading and completing the document to the database of all the medical records.
The benefits of SOAP notes
Definitely, soap note would not have survived or been used by various practitioners unless it has a lot of benefits.
Here are the benefits of using soap notes for patient documentation.
- Organizes the way info is written
All the medical provider needs to write a lot of notes in a day. In this regard, an organized way is ideal for the notes and documentation as it keeps everything organized and in hand.
- The note-taking process gets faster
Another basic benefit of soap notes is that the structure it provides automatically speeds up the process of documentation. This is because of important details created in order already. All you need is to stick to it and note everything quickly.
- Provides a cognitive framework for the staff
As you follow the SOAP note method for documentation long enough then it begins to affect the way you meet and converse with your patients. This means that you have well-structured and organized notes.
- Boost up the quality of care
You likely provide your patient with the best level of care possible after writing down all the important information about the patient and its ailment. This leads you to reach the heart of the issue in the best possible way by creating the proper plan.
- Supportive to other Medical professionals
SOAP notes are mostly found in the electronic health record of patients. So if any other medical professional gets access to the records of the patient, SOAP notes help them because of its well-structured, organized, and easy-to-read features.
Concerns about SOAP notes
Here are a few considerations going on about SOAP notes.
- Some of the clinicians suggested changing the acronym from SOAP to APSO to quicken the ongoing care and eliminating the required time to find out the assessment and plan.
- Another issue concerning the SOAP usage note is that it there is no point to record the changes over time.
- The inclusion of SOAP templates in the EHR system has many benefits like:
Auto populating data from the treatment plan section of electronic health records like diagnosis, goals, and interventions
Make it able to review the historical SOAP notes
Incorporation of data points that end up making the golden thread
Incorporation of data from the outcome measures
High efficiency by excluding double data entry
Nowadays the SOAP that is subjective, objective, assessment and plan is the most commonly used system for documentation in the medical care industries. It is highly beneficial in organizing and structuring the entire data of patients and making it work. Actually, it is helpful to change the way you meet up with your patients.
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