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Jerris Heaton

How To Help Physician Burnout Related to Messaging and EHR Use

June 28, 2021

Clinician, EHR, Patient Portal 4 Minute Read

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way healthcare providers interact with patients, and it’s largely due to a huge spike in telehealth. This realignment of the industry toward electronic solutions brought a host of challenges in effective communication and record keeping that increased the time physicians spend dealing with EHR.

Trying to manage records across multiple systems while doing telehealth visits is a recipe for physician burnout.

The Consequences of a Shift to Telehealth and Higher Workloads

The challenges of inbox management and workflow switching led to physicians doing EHR tasks outside of work hours. The stress associated with this is draining and takes focus away from the important work of caring for patients.

According to a study by the Mayo Clinic, “the usability of current EHR systems received a grade of F by physician users when evaluated using a standardized metric of technology usability. A strong dose-response relationship between EHR usability and the odds of burnout was observed.”

Burnout is a very real outcome of working against the challenges of various software packages, and physicians are looking for ways to alleviate the workload.

A study by JMIR publications also found that many EHR systems are designed primarily to meet federal guidelines and billing, but haven’t considered workflow and physician stress. The study revealed that patient messages accounted for most of the time spent doing inbox work. This work fell into three categories; inbox work outside of work hours, inbox work during work hours and extended contiguous hours. All three were associated with increases in stress.

EHR Messaging, EHR Physician Burnout, Physician Burnout and Messaging

Stress associated with inbox work was found to be greatest in the first hour of work, in the afternoon and in the evening. These three work sessions showed an increase in stress as measured by physiological sensors, and the “proportion of inbox work done outside of work hours, inbox work batching and the day of the week were each independently associated with daily stress duration,” the study found.

How Better EHR Solutions and Other Practices Can Help Ease Burnout

For physicians looking to alleviate this stress and its contribution to burnout, the study identified a few areas that can be modified to make the workflow more efficient and productive.

EHR window switching is one of the factors that created the most stress. Physicians switching between different software solutions that might not be integrated means lots of clicking between windows and attempting to get the software doing things it wasn’t designed for.

Another factor is the duration of inbox work, which is extended by software solutions that aren’t user-friendly or integrated. Inbox work outside of work hours is a major factor in creating stress and not allowing physicians the downtime they need to work effectively.

The study identified duration, window switching and work during “off” hours as being three factors that are modifiable through systems-based solutions.

EHR Messaging, EHR Physician Burnout, Physician Burnout and Messaging

In response to the Mayo Clinic study, the AMA said in a statement, “It’s a national imperative to overhaul the design and use of EHRs and reframe the technology to focus primarily on its most critical function — helping physicians care for their patients… Significantly enhancing EHR usability is key, and the AMA is working to ensure a new generation of EHRs are designed to prioritize time with patients, rather than overload physicians with type-and-click tasks.”

Our Role in Helping Physicians Focus on Goal No. 1 – Caring for Patients

ChartLogic’s innovative software solutions aim to simplify EHRs and messaging by bringing everything together in one dashboard.

Having a single window for messaging that is integrated with the rest of the EHR helps simplify the process of keeping track of messages both within the practice and with outside parties.

ChartLogic’s messaging dashboard enables physicians to communicate with staff, text groups, patients and direct providers outside the practice. This solution is coupled with the patient portal, so all communication with patients is connected with their records in a HIPAA-compliant, secure platform. This integrated solution means fewer clicks and less time at the keyboard.

The EHR solutions provided by ChartLogic bring messaging together with telehealth, note taking and speech recognition that allows for dictation. If burnout and stress are about a loss of control over the amount of work and the tools for doing that work, ChartLogic solutions will get the work under control, so physicians can focus on the work they do best – caring for patients.

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