Four years ago, I wrote a blog post about clinician burnout – it’s everywhere you look, it’s written about in medical studies, and is constantly brought to light by health care administrators. Four years have passed, and, sadly, the situation hasn’t changed, with circumstances exacerbated by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Many health systems are facing these challenges every day through issues with staff retention, recruiting great talent, and the never-ending time that is lost by completing administrative tasks that are crucial for the care of their patients. Though many hospitals and health systems have started partnering with nursing schools and offering academic financial assistance to recruit top talent, it will take a couple of years for these investments to pay off. Although this is a step in the right direction, health care organizations don’t have the luxury of time on their side while these challenges are negatively affecting their health care staff and serving as barriers to delivering superior patient care.
According to EHR Intelligence, 61% of physicians experienced feelings of burnout during the pandemic, an alarming jump from 40% reported in 2018. This situation has led to a major physician shortage, an issue the U.S. has faced for years. According to last year’s AAMC workforce report, there will be a projected shortage of 17,800 – 48,000 physicians and 21,000 – 77,100 specialty physicians from the years 2019 to 2034. The drivers of these shortages seem to be an aging physician workforce and a growing, aging population.
Physician and clinician burnout can have a variety of impacts on a health system, including financial implications. Replacing a provider that leaves can cost the organization hundreds of thousands of dollars. It can also negatively impact quality of care and staff/patient satisfaction.
With all the challenges health care administrators are facing, health experts agree that the adoption of health IT products and services is imperative to ease the pain caused by physician and clinician burnout. Well-known health care leaders have recently agreed on immediate strategies that would reduce strain and optimize a nurse’s workflow – most of them tied to technology adoption or improvements, citing the importance of streamlining documentation for nurses and improving existing processes by introducing universal electronic hubs to house patient health records.
Access to outside medical records for referred patients can be a challenge for hospital departments. eHealth Technologies offers a solution called eHealth Connect®, which can dramatically address physician and clinician burnout. Not only does it reduce barriers to accessing records, it eliminates frustrations related to records review. It also decreases the amount of time that health care professionals need to spend on administrative tasks.
How can administrators combat physician and clinician burnout? Here are five ways to tackle these challenges head-on with support from a technology-enabled service provider:
- Enable faster turn-around-time for record retrieval for referred patients means clinicians can schedule and see patients with critical medical needs more quickly.
- Get access to a complete medical record – not just a CCD – to give clinicians and physicians more information to work with as they are evaluating a new patient.
- Deliver records that are clinically organized, with information formatted into sections with key terms that are highlighted and searchable, to make it easier and faster for physicians to review records and prepare for the patient’s first appointment.
- Access outside records right within the clinicians’ EMR to streamline their review process and eliminate using multiple systems that can have different log-ins.
- Create a situation where the initial patient appointment is more valuable. With access to all relevant information, more time can be spent talking about a treatment plan, instead of locating additional records – something both patients and clinicians will appreciate.
While there are a host of factors that impact burnout among physicians and clinicians, it’s important for administrators to understand how some of the issues can be addressed, to prevent a never-ending cycle of challenges. The time to act is now to support our talented health care professionals and the quality of care for patients.