Optimizing EHR to Reduce Burnout? It’s Worth A Shot.

There is no one solution to fix physician burnout, considering it is a multifaceted issue, but optimizing EHR certainly can’t hurt.

Burnout, as we’ve reported over and over and over, is a pervasive problem impacting the physician workforce in the United States. There is no one solution to fix it, considering it is a multifaceted issue. However, the AMA has one suggestion—streamlining EHR.

EHR, which is often labeled as a factor of physician burnout, hasn’t exactly lived up to the hype surrounding it when it was introduced. It was supposed to be the wave of the future, a way to improve the healthcare experience for not only patients, but staff, as well. It’s done nearly the opposite, becoming a time-consuming burden for physicians and leading to breaches of patient data in a way that was never really possible with paper health records. However, it is seemingly here to stay, so optimizing it only makes sense, and one practice in Massachusetts may have cracked the code on how to do this.

In 2016, Reliant Medical Group, a 500-provider multispecialty practice in Massachusetts, ranked in the 97th percentile nationally for EHR usability. The system they have developed has reportedly resulted in a 25% reduction in physician in-basket message volume over an 18-month period.

How did they do it?

Establish A Comprehensive EHR Team

Reliant developed a team, which is comprised of five physicians, one physician assistant, and a nurse, who work in concert with 12 members of the IT division. This team meets weekly to identify ways to improve efficiency, and then the programmers go to work to implement changes.

Automate When Possible

Reliant created a system that can automatically gather and share patient information from multiple sources, such as affiliated hospitals and health plans. This has helped them to cut down on time-consuming tasks, such as calling around to other organizations for information.

Delegate Where Appropriate

A physician’s overflowing inbox is another source of burnout. Tweaking EHR so that other members of the staff, such as medical assistants, can gather and receive information without producing a message for the physician helps alleviate this. Within Reliant’s practice, only laboratory results are sent to the primary care physician’s inbox for review, while routine consultation notes are no longer delivered directly to the physician.

Disclaimer: The viewpoint expressed in this article is the opinion of the author and is not necessarily the viewpoint of the owners or employees at Healthcare Staffing Innovations, LLC.