EHRs and Physician Burnout: How Can We Add Less, Not More?

Two tired doctors resting in a hospital hallway

Physicians are ‘feeling the burn’ when it comes to EHRs.

A recent study from researchers at Washington University in St. Louis revealed that EHR activity may be a good indicator of physician burnout. With a deep-learning prediction model, they identified burnout by pulling automatically-generated EHR activity logs. The model, known as Hierarchical burnout Prediction based on Activity Logs (HiPAL), learns physician behaviors and takes into frequency, nature of activity and time spent using EHR logs.

Burnout doesn’t just affect the physicians who suffer, concerningly, another recent study suggests that physician burnout can diminish quality of care and patient safety. If the effects from burnout are this 

Burnout among medical professionals existed long before COVID-19. The pandemic accelerated what was already an upward trend, causing healthcare professionals (HCPs) to reevaluate their careers and practices. Frustration toward EHRs also existed before the pandemic, but now the voices are louder and the evidence can’t go ignored. It’s time to take a hard look at EHRs, identify areas of friction and find ways to smooth out the process for providers.

Cut the ‘clickbait’

It’s important to understand why EHRs cause so much grief among HCPs. For context, the number one reason cited for burnout is bureaucratic and administrative tasks. This isn’t just billing and signing off on insurance claims, it also includes entering and authorizing the release of data. Essentially, it’s not the EHRs themselves that frustrate providers, it’s the ‘clicks’ they demand.

Designing EHRs with minimal physician clicks is one way to avoid burnout and frustration. Radiologists know this paradox all too well – click-counting is an important metric for evaluating workflow efficiency and there are a number of studies exploring this relationship. In a recent review, one radiologist reportedly logged 1.37 mouse miles and nearly 11,000 keystrokes in a single eight-hour shift. This happens because while imaging studies have increased in volume and complexity, software hasn’t kept up.

In with Interoperability, Out with Bureaucracy

For hospital networks, security is the number one priority. They’re under constant pressure to keep patients’ data safe and ensure their privacy is protected, but oftentimes this creates added guardrails. It’s also one of the reasons keeping providers from achieving interoperability, meaning information systems don’t have the ability to access, exchange, integrate and cooperatively use data in a coordinated manner with external health networks. It’s how providers can deliver on their commitments to portability and optimizing care when it comes to health records.

Without the ability to seamlessly share records with outside providers, the burden falls on clinic staff on both ends (sending and receiving) to go through a series of manual processes that take time away from caring for patients. Security needs to advance past this.

EHRs that Work

Patient-centered EHRs can remedy some of the bureaucracy providers often encounter. By giving patients control and ownership over their records, they have the power to share with their own providers – shifting those tasks away from clinic workflows and decreasing staff clicks.  

In a post-COVID healthcare system, hospitals are stretched – staff work with limited resources to deliver the best care possible for patients across departments. The challenges are three-fold: working within the confines of a network with restricted infrastructure, ensuring clinicians have everything they need to deliver for their patients, ensuring the techstack runs smoothly without any breaches or compromises. 

PocketHealth is a patient-centered image-sharing platform that takes the best of hospital networks and works within their infrastructure. It’s built on a network-agnostic platform – so patients with doctors in multiple networks achieve continuity in care and can permanently own, access, and share their imaging any time, on any device. Best of all, patient-led sharing is 100% free for providers.

Originally, EHRs were created to deliver better and safer care for patients. The user experience for physicians was secondary or in some cases, an afterthought. But PocketHealth was designed with both patients and providers in mind.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 —–

To learn more about PocketHealth and patient-centered no network EHRs platform, contact us to request a demo.

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