Perspective: Physician Burnout and EMR Usage
Do you remember the long ago days when EMR was simply intended to digitize a paper chart and help automate manual clinical and office workflows? We do. Those were the days when EMR developers created the basic EMR building blocks that included electronic capture and update of patient medical data, visit documentation, lab orders, prescriptions, and care plans. As the industry recognized the power of discrete data captured in an EMR, it started to analyze that data for ways to reduce costs, improve the quality of care and engage patients. Armed with that knowledge, industry players increased requirements emerged pushing providers to capture more data in specific, reportable ways. Payment programs emerged which continue to change the rules to ensure that providers keep taking steps to capture more data for new uses.
While the goals of data capture are intended for the good of healthcare industry, providers are faced with additional IT, security, and software costs. Less face time with patients. More data entry responsibilities. Constant learning of new requirements. Managing their practices to balance costs and reimbursements. Using new tools. With so many changes, requirements, and technology layered on top of what physicians are already doing, it makes sense that we’re seeing more reports of physician burnout with a portion of burnout now being attributed to documentation requirements.
A 2016 study indicated that fifty-four percent of U.S. physicians experience some sign of burnout, an increase from 46% over a 3-year period from 2011 to 2014. It was reported that during the office day, physicians spent 27.0% of their total time on direct clinical face time with patients and 49.2% of their time on EHR and desk work.Read More
It’s clear that EHR documentation requirements have added time to the physician workday and lessens the time spent face to face with patients. While there is no magic bullet that will eliminate sometimes burdensome requirements for EMR usage and additional documentation requirements that may seem unnecessary or sometimes clunky, there are things that your practice can do to help ease the burden. Just as the environment in which you practice medicine changes, your EMR is also a constantly evolving tool. A lot has changed from the first day your practice went live with EMR. Consider taking a step back. Conduct a current evaluation of how individual providers and staff members are using the powerful functionality within your EMR. Then identify and implement ways to lessen the provider burden. This is a useful exercise to help reduce documentation time, improve efficient usage, and boost user satisfaction.
Review some recommendations below for helping your providers and staff get back to the business of healing:
- Identify super users within your practice who can coach struggling/new providers to optimize their EMR usage/onboarding. These roles tend to be best served by nurses or providers who use the EMR day in and day out.
- Identify a clinical EMR Champion who’s dedicated to monitoring software version enhancements over time that can communicate the changes and train users on how to efficiently and effectively take advantage of changes.
- Work with providers to determine their preferred documentation style. MicroMD EMR can be customized to work with an individual provider’s preferred documentation style. Providers are often surprised by the efficiencies that can be gained by implementing voice recognition within their templates.
- For providers participating in QPP, clearly communicate annual program requirements, as well as the specific steps required to document to ensure their work counts when it comes time to report.
- Identify documentation, order entry, and patient communication/data sharing tasks handled by providers. Are there areas where other team members can handle all or portions of those workflows?
- Implement ongoing, short burst EMR coaching sessions geared towards optimizing inefficiencies, ensuring appropriate usage, and minimizing clicks and data entry.
- Utilize clinical efficiency tools, including Clinical Decision Support (CDS), scribes, interfaces, electronic prescribing of controlled substances, etc.
As we continue to evolve your MicroMD PM and EMR software to ensure you have the required tools to help protect sensitive patient data, improve clinical outcomes, engage patients, ensure patient safety, and maximize payment and regulatory program participation, it’s more important than ever to find ways to optimize provider time. As one of your practices’ trusted advisors, we’re here to help.
The MicroMD Training Team can help with additional training sessions, including shorter sessions that focus on improvement areas you’ve determined. Also, if you’d like to explore MicroMD resources to conduct a formal Software Utilization Review and provide recommendations, please contact Celeste Tasker, Henry Schein MicroMD Training Supervisor.
About the author,
Kristen is the general manager of Henry Schein MicroMD. She leads the operational teams that conceive, develop, launch, sell, implement, train and support the simple yet powerful MicroMD solutions.
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