In a 2019 study by the National Academy of Medicine, “35 to 54 percent of U.S. nurses and physicians have substantial symptoms of burnout, and the range for medical students and residents is between 45 to 60 percent.” The highest prevalence of burnout occurs in primary care-oriented specialties, although there are indications that burnout is a problem among all clinical disciplines and across all care settings. By optimizing the use of Health IT solutions, and reducing the administrative data burden associated with tasks in the EHR, some vendors are beginning to address the burnout epidemic in American healthcare.
How’s It Going?
There is no refuting the link between physician stress and the EHR. It’s not going as well as it could be. An NIH study found that 50% of physicians experience some form of burnout. Physicians spend a large portion of their time (up to two hours each day) locating, documenting, and inputting data into the EHR. This is two hours that could be spent focusing on patient care. When we make it easier to navigate the EHR, we will reduce the time spent gazing into computer screens.
Should Technology be a Better Enabler?
The short and obvious answer is `yes.’ When we go online to check our bank balance, or drive up to an ATM anywhere in the world, we can navigate the financial system easily, and quickly, with a minimum of prompts. Physicians would like this same technology to be available in the EHR, a minimum of clicks, a “smarter” system, and less documentation. In their report, the National Academy of Medicine stated, “Health IT vendors and healthcare organizations should design and configure systems to improve the clinical work environment, including attention to cognitive load and workflows that reduce the demand of clinical documentation and automate non-essential tasks.” Automation and machine learning are beginning to tackle this overwhelming burden.
Automation reduces tedious tasks that can more accurately be accomplished by machines. Machine learning techniques enable users to collect, organize, and store volumes of data with the ability to analyze the data and present data-driven decision support. In EHR data migration, for example, information is easily transferred, analyzed, cleansed, and stored in the new system, decommissioning legacy systems faster, and eliminating the constant toggle between multiple system silos. In the revenue cycle, missing information can be located, corrected (by searching through information located in various systems or online), and processed, without the need for human intervention. Automation benefits role-based users, increases efficiency, and eliminates manual, data-driven tasks. Whether it’s moving pre-visit forms from the patient kiosk to the EHR, or bringing over all of the data needed in a data migration, automation eases the volume and increases the velocity of process completion.
How Can We Improve?
We have a long way to go in terms of optimizing the use of the EHR. Automation alone is not a panacea for all of the issues. A 2019 survey published by the American Medical Association stated, “ the vast majority of U.S. hospitals and physician offices get an average grade of “F” on the usability scale.” Multiple studies confirm that physicians are performing additional administrative tasks like organizing, sorting, and sifting through the EHR, at home, after hours, and on weekends.
Some of the ways to improve involve simple inbox modifications, sorting of priority messages, and related lab results displayed in a way that is more intuitive, and more like physicians are used to viewing them. This “simple stuff” like preventing duplicate messages and highlighting abnormalities, are things we can do today.
Burnout in healthcare is the result of exhaustion, inefficiency, and a lack of personal achievement. It is alarming and tragic that the people we put in charge of healing us are most vulnerable to its cumulative effects. We need fundamental, big changes to occur in regulatory policy. In the meantime, we can take small steps to improve the lives of those who save our lives on a daily basis. By shifting our focus to support time constraints, regulations, and technology. To #bridgethegaps, as we like to say, and target solutions that better support people.
Why Boston Software Systems?
A reputable healthcare automation partner can help you identify processes that will benefit most from increased automation and allow you to scale with ease. Finding a partner with an exclusive healthcare focus ensures the solution will be aligned with workflows, reduce pain-points associated with process implementation, and speed alignment to future health goals.
Boston Software Systems’ experience has been ensuring automation projects remain on track since 1985. Working across a wide-range of vendors and applications, we are experts on streamlining workflows, reducing costs, and improving usability for hospitals, health systems, provider organizations, and technology partners. We have worked with all of the leading EHR vendors, optimizing usability and role-based user satisfaction.
Give us one hour, we will tell you what can be up in running in days or weeks. With over 95% of our healthcare automation projects being completed in under 30 days, savings are right around the corner.