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5 Tech Solutions to Lessen the Impact of Physician Burnout

  • Edward Nick 

It’s no surprise that the Coronavirus global health emergency had pushed physicians and healthcare workers to a breaking point. Physician burnout isn’t a new phenomenon. It has been a problem long before 2020.

The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly made it worse. It created new challenges for healthcare providers, like remote patient care, which never existed at the scale it does today.

In a recent survey conducted among healthcare providers, 83% of physicians and 73% of nurses say that the mean pandemic-related burnout score was significantly higher than personal and work-related burnout scores.

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What causes Physician Burnout?

Burnout usually happens due to extreme stress in the workplace, often including a shortage of healthcare workers leading to an increased workload on existing staff.

It prevents physicians from performing to the best of their abilities, and the quality of care that patients get often declines. Burnout causes healthcare workers mental and physical exhaustion that can lead to impaired attention, memory, and executive functions, resulting in medical errors and affecting patient safety.

The main reason behind physician burnout is that physicians cannot solely focus on patient care, they have to perform administrative work like documentation for insurance, maintaining patients’ records, and several other mundane tasks.

Physicians spent approx 2.6 hours a week complying with external quality measures, which is enough time to see approximately nine additional patients. Almost half a physician’s workday is occupied by administrative tasks hence, leading to poor quality of clinical care.

This would also create problems for hospitals as it’ll be highly costly because of the increased chance of errors leading to millions of dollars in lawsuit costs.

A study by the Annals of Internal Medicine estimated that $4.6 billion in costs related to physician burnout are spent each year in the U.S., and observed the economic value in investing in programs to lessen the impact of this burnout.

Physicians and nurses have continued to be overburdened with increased patient demands and administrative tasks stemming from the pandemic. So, what kind of digitalization solutions would eventually prevent burnout amongst physicians and healthcare providers in hospitals and clinics?

Research from HIMSS

Research from HIMSS found that technologies and tools available can help reduce physician burnout, digitize workflows, and accelerate communications. When used appropriately, technology can be a powerful tool for mitigating clinicians’  stress depending on how effectively it is incorporated into workflows.

In this informative article, we will be exploring a few ways technology can alleviate burnout among physicians and discuss how each could reduce healthcare providers’ long work hours and large administrative tasks, which duly improves the quality of care and help them maintain a healthy work-life balance.

Tech Solutions to Reduce Physician Burnout

1. Acquiring Telemedicine can help save more time

Telemedicine adoption has skyrocketed in the past few years, approx 60% of healthcare providers now regard telemedicine as an effective solution as it helps physicians focus more on patient care, and strengthen treatment adherence which, in turn, lessens additional hospital visits or emergency visits.

Physicians feel less pressed for time when they use telemedicine since they aren’t rushing to get to the next appointment as soon as possible. This makes them feel more focused and in control of the situation and also keeps them from suffering at the hands of burnout.

According to the 2020 Doximity State of Telemedicine Report, most patients feel the quality level of clinical care through telemedicine solutions is as effective, or even better than in-person doctor visits.

Telemedicine also allows healthcare workers to sort administrative work while at home instead of them having to stay late at the office, which can negatively impact their emotional and mental health.

These telehealth solutions are also useful in order to avoid traveling and also reduce consultation time. This will eventually help physicians maintain a work-life balance as they’ll have the opportunity to work from anywhere with telehealth solutions.

2. Healthcare apps to keep track of physicians’ wellbeing

There are a myriad of health apps available in the market today that can collect crucial data about a physician’s vitals such as heart rate, blood pressure, sleep patterns, etc. These applications can be highly instrumental in exhibiting burnout signs.

The majority of the time physician burnouts go unnoticed. When healthcare providers start to experience some form of trauma, feel pain, or realize on their own that their work is taking a toll on their overall well-being.

It is often too late. Therefore, with the help of this tech solution, physicians can track their own health and alleviate burnout signs before they start showing.

3. Data Management Solutions for Streamlining Documentation

In the recent research study conducted by ScienceDaily, it was concluded that one of the core reasons for physicians’ stress is the inclusion of organizing and maintaining electronic health records (EHR) in their already exhaustive routine on a regular basis.

With the help of effective data management tools, we can get rid of this problem for physicians.

1. By implementing automation within EHR systems so that it doesn’t require a physician’s immediate attention.

2. By leveraging cloud hosting services to record patient data in order to enhance its interoperability across the organization, also to keep information consistent, concise, and easily accessible.

3. By utilizing Clinical Decision Support Systems (CDSS) which can help in deriving insights from healthcare data and make treatment suggestions tailored to each patient.

4. Developing Better EHR systems

Physicians and other healthcare workers spend ample time entering patient data or searching other systems for patient data. Therefore, integrating an EHR System into healthcare platforms can be helpful but the current EMR systems are not necessarily beneficial to physicians.

It is quite impossible to keep building new EMR systems. So, in order to make EHR systems more physician- and provider-friendly, some have opted for interoperability and third-party vendors for add-on features or extensions. Interoperability enables healthcare data exchange between different EMR systems and hence, establishes a better healthcare information ecosystem.

5. Implement  Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Healthcare data is getting highly complex and multi-dimensional with time. Therefore, managing data is now becoming necessary for any medical organization trying to reduce burnout among physicians and other healthcare workers. This can be achieved by implementing Al, Machine Learning (ML), and Natural Language Processing (NLP).

Artificial intelligence can help improve accuracy in diagnosis and support physicians by serving as a second set of eyes – and enabling faster and more accurate treatment decision-making and also ensuring patients with quality care.

NLP is one powerful tech solution for physicians that can process unstructured heavy text data and extract useful information.

ML, a subfield of AI, can be applied to complex data in order to predict patterns and derive insights. These predictions can be used to describe patterns and trends on a macro-level for the higher authorities, stakeholders, or the general public for creating awareness about the latest healthcare development.

A perfect example of this is RapidAI:

RapidAI is a stroke platform that automates image processing and analysis and provides easy-to-read, near real-time imprints of the brain. It also provides physicians with standardized results for assessing whether a patient is eligible for endovascular treatment or not.

This clinical decision support AI can ultimately help reduce a great deal of stress on healthcare providers by offering a second opinion and mitigating some of the burdens off physicians.

Empower your healthcare system with tech solutions

Healthcare systems are becoming more complex with the emergence of new technologies and the fast-paced implementation of these technologies. With the right technology, tools, and a seasoned healthcare software development company, HCOs can take a step in the right direction to reduce physician burnout and mitigate stress.