EMR & EDR - Building Templates

This article seeks to cover the basic workflow for building an EMR/EDR Form Template from beginning to finish. We'll cover recommended steps and practices when building your Form Templates and demonstrate how to effectively utilize the Narrative View to provide a quick readout of a finished patient form. If you have any issues or are confused by any of the steps provided, don't hesitate to contact MacPractice Support!

If you're looking for a more basic overview of the EMR/EDR Ability, click here.

You can read more about Form Elements and Pull Fields in their respective articles.

If you are interested in custom templates designed by our MacPractice Support team, please read this article here.

Workflow Overview of Form Template Creation

Let's first cover the general workflow of creating a Form Template.

  1. First, you'll create the Form Template in one of your category nodes.
  2. Next, you'll prepare Form Sections for use in your Template. You can create your own by adding a new Form Section in the sidebar and adding Form Elements to it.
    • You'll also need to edit each Form Section's Narrative side, which contains a written summary of the results of the information entered into a patient form. We recommend editing the Narrative AFTER adding all desired Form Elements into a Form Section!
  3. Once you've prepared your Form Sections, you can then add them to a Form Template.
  4. We recommend generating a test form on a test patient account to ensure it looks how you'd like. Make sure your forms are ready and tested before using them in a live environment!
  5. You're done!

Creating a Form Template

To first create a Form Template, you'll select a Category node in the EMR/EDR Sidebar. These are the pinkScreen_Shot_2021-03-04_at_7.08.21_PM.pngfolders that can be added in the Form Category node. Once selected, click the Green Plus to add a new form. This will bring up the Forms Palette, which is an essential tool you'll use throughout the forms creation process. You'll use the Forms Palette to customize the details of a Form, a Form Section, and when you have Patient Forms selected. We strongly recommend reading the Forms Palette article for a clear understanding of this tool.


Here, you can name the Form Template, add a short description so you can discern it from others down the road, set a Specialty for the form (this only impacts what category it is filed under when uploaded to the Shared Forms node, and the viewed zoom size in the preview. 

Adding Form Sections

Next, you'll need to decide on what Form Sections you wish to add. 

Form Sections can be added to the Form Template by clicking and dragging the Form Section in question from the Form Sections node into the central area of the EMR/EDR Ability with the Form Template selected.


On the right you'll see the Form Section has been added to the Navigation Pane, which contains a complete list of all the Form Sections included in the Form Template.

When adding these to a Template, you'll want to double check how their Narrative View is formatted. We'll discuss the Narrative View in a later section of this article, but you can quickly check the Narrative side of a Form Section by pressing Command-\ (Backslash) on your keyboard. 


Creating Custom Form Sections

You can create a new Form Section by clicking the Green Plus in the sidebar with the Form Section node selected.


In the Forms Palette, you can set up details about the Form Section as displayed in the screenshot above. You can read more about the Forms Palette in this article here.

You'll use the Forms Palette to drag in Form Elements into the Form Section. There are several Form Elements at your disposal, which we strongly recommend you review in the Form Elements article.


When you've added an Element, you can customize details about the Element in the Inspector area of the Forms Palette, shown in the image above. On the General Tab, you can typically edit the placement and size of the element by adjusting the X, Y, Width, and Height fields. You'll also want to set a clear name for this Element, which will help identify it when filling out the form, and when identifying it in the Narrative View.

You can also drag in Pull Fields, which are used to bring in information from several areas in the MacPractice database. You can drag Pull Fields into both the Form Section or the Narrative View.

A Note About large Form Sections: When building a Form Section, avoid making lots of large Form Sections. It is very beneficial to use multiple small sections, rather than one large section for a given portion of the template, as this provides additional flexibility when arranging the template. This is most important when using pull fields and formatting the Narrative. Using smaller Form Sections will also provide you more exact control over what information pulls forward from previously filled out Patient Forms when generating new Patient Forms.

Formatting Advice: Templates built by MacPractice Template Specialists typically use Lucida Grande as the font. The size varies, but typically will be 10 pt for the body of the template. Additionally, on the narrative we generally use 12 pt bold and underlined for section titles, and 14 pt bold and underlined for the name of the form. If you want to adjust the default font type and size, you can do so in the MacPractice Menu > Preferences > EMR > General.

Editing the Narrative
Once you have added all the Form Elements you'd like to see on your Form Section and you're comfortable with their layout and customization, let's take a look at the narrative. You can switch over to the Narrative View by pressing Command-\ (Backslash) on your keyboard, or you can switch to the narrative via the EMR/EDR Menu.


The Narrative serves as the text readout of the data entered into this Form Section.

In order to teach the intricacies of the Narrative View editor, let's use an example of a custom section for a "First Visit" form that includes a Textbox element for "Reason for Visit", and a checkbox that asks whether this is the patient's first visit.


If we flip over to the Narrative View of this section, these fields will be represented as such:



The top line is the name of the Form Section, and the info in the brackets {}s indicates Form Elements data pulling into the narrative. If we generated a Patient Form from a Form Template that included this Form Section, the Narrative would currently look something like this:


One of the quirks of the Narrative View editor is that when the Narrative has not been adjusted, Element names will be listed to identify these elements clearly. If the Narrative has been edited at all, these labels will not be included, and Elements added after editing the Narrative will not appear by default. This is why we recommend leaving editing the Narrative to the very end of Form Section creation.

When edited, the same Narrative View we saw above would look like this on a patient form:


As you can see, the header for the Reason for Visit field is gone, but the entered text remains. So what can we do? We'll want to format the Narrative to clearly communicate what this information is. So for the Reason for Visit field, let's denote it as such in the Narrative:


You'll note we added some bold here and a line break. You can use keyboard shortcuts like Command B and I to add in Bold and Italics (and other formatting options are in the Text Menu above).

This Narrative will look on the Patient Form like this:


This definitely lays out the Reason for Visit a bit clearer, but the checkbox isn't really working like we intend. Why is that? The reason has to do with how we have the Checkbox Element configured in the Forms Palette. Let's take a look:


In the Check Box Inspector, on the Options Tab, we can see some specific options available for the Checkbox Element. Here, we can see that the "Narrative Checked" field contains "First Visit?" which was the initial name of our checkbox element. Here, we can configure it to report a different text result depending on whether the checkbox is checked or not. If we change it to Yes and No respectively...


Then the narrative on the patient form will appear as thus if this checkbox is checked:


This can obviously get more complicated as your Form Sections become more elaborate. This is why we strongly recommend that you keep your Form Sections small, so you can approach form template building from a modular perspective, building small pieces that you can combine. This also helps you format your narratives easily.

If you ever need to re-add a Form Element to the Narrative that you accidentally or intentionally removed, you can do so on the Forms Palette under Pull Fields. The Narrative View must be showing, and when it is, there is an additional category containing the Form Section's elements.


Adding Pull Fields To a Form

Pull Fields are identifiers that will "pull" the information from a field or area in MacPractice and print it in its place, hence the name Pull Fields. In this context, pull fields are used to populate more data onto a patient form.

To add a Pull Field to a Form Section, simply identify the Pull Field in question, and drag it into the Form Section. You can add a Pull Field to both the Form Section and the Form Section's Narrative View. For example, let's get the patient's name to pull into the form.


The Pull Fields in this placement would appear as so:


If we wanted to have the patient's name appear in the Narrative, we could simply drag those fields into the narrative in the same way:


And on the patient form Narrative View, it'd look like this:


This can obviously be a nuanced and difficult subject, but we hope this article gives you a foundation on how to begin building your forms with confidence! If you run into any issues or need advice, MacPractice Support is always available to assist you!



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