The advances in healthcare technology have spurred practice efficiencies, improved care through patient data sharing, and improved workflows within the practice. Technology has also caused some providers to stress over its use. At the same time, improved technology may be the key to mitigating the increasing rates of provider burnout.
Burnout in the healthcare field has become an epidemic of its own, particularly given the challenges of providing quality care during the COVID-19 pandemic. One recent study found that half of the physicians in the US experience burnout.
Additional research efforts have found that physicians are almost twice as likely to experience burnout as those professionals in other fields. Providers are also dissatisfied with their work-life balance in large numbers. When a physician is feeling the effects of being burnout out, it can impact patient safety as well as patient satisfaction with the quality of their care.
Although the increased use of technology, including the requirement to implement it in independent practices to secure certain value-based care reimbursements, has been shown to contribute to the burnout rate, integrated healthcare technology can actually be the solution needed to help improve and simplify care team workflows, reducing the stressors that contribute to burnout.
For example, the research on physician burnout found that, on a scale of 0 to 100, a 10-point increase in the usability of an electronic health record (EHR) will actually decrease the odds of physician burnout by 30%.
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The EHR has often been identified as a source of physician burnout, yet a significant factor in preventing burnout is an integrated, well-designed EHR solution. The digital platform of the EHR replaces the time-consuming, paper documentation that was not shareable and often contained inaccuracies.
This technology can unlock the full potential of data at the point of care and can be integral to mitigating burnout. EHR use will result in:
- Reduced missed diagnoses
- Reduced care gaps
- An increase in quality compliance
- A more meaningful physician-patient relationship
- An improvement in the overall quality of care.
Effective data management can reduce a provider’s stress, accomplished by:
- Leveraging cloud hosting for the EHR to store patient data to improve its interoperability
- Keeping information consistent, concise, and easily accessible
- Automating processes within the EHR itself that don’t require a physician’s immediate attention.
Given that patient data is growing highly complex and multi-dimensional, data management can contribute significantly to mitigating burnout among physicians and other support staff.
Another technology advance that can be an effective solution to the issue of provider burnout is the increased capability of telemedicine. The use of telehealth has increased substantially during the pandemic, with most third-party payers recognizing and reimbursing providers for its quality and efficiency.
Almost 60% of healthcare providers now see telemedicine as a favorable solution. Patients also feel that the level of care they receive during telehealth sessions is as effective or, in some cases, better than in-office visits. Telemedicine can help mitigate physician burnout as a result of a number of factors, including:
- The ability of providers to focus more on patient care through remote consultations, as they are able to deploy any interventions as needed and strengthen treatment adherence.
- Physicians feeling less rushed or pressured for time during a telehealth session, as they are not stressed about getting to the next appointment as soon as possible. As a result, the provider feels more in control of the situation, which reduces the potential for burnout.
- Providing telemedicine remotely enables the physician to complete administrative work without having to stay late at the office, which positively impacts their emotional and mental health.