Do you remember this quote from former President George Bush?
"By computerizing health records, we can avoid dangerous medical mistakes, reduce costs, and improve care."
The intention of this statement was to incentivize physicians to use an electronic health record (EHR) because it was going to make their lives easier, reduce medical mistakes, and reduce their documentation burdens.
Fast forward 14 years and what we have is many physicians pointing to their EHRs as the cause of their burnout. But, more importantly, these physicians now report feeling personal relationships with patients are being replaced with a computer screen — instead of reducing documentation burdens and creating more time with patients, EHRs have become an obstacle.
In a 2016 Physician Wellness Survey Report conducted by researchers from the Stanford Medicine WellMD, 43 percent of the respondents described perceiving negative EHR experiences associated with self-reported burnout. Finding their EHR systems a burden rather than an advantage, physicians report working additional hours just to keep up.
What can a practice do to reduce burnout by using the EHR as the tool it was intended for? Invest time in EHR training to really understand their EHR capabilities.
Here are three reasons why physicians and staff should invest time in EHR training to really understand their EHR capabilities:
Assessment and investment:
- Assess workflow and determine how the EHR can be streamlined into it.
- Proper use of EHR features can eliminate redundant documentation and missing data, while improving patient interactions.
You don’t know what you don’t know:
- Identify what useful EHR functions you are not using.
- Start optimization right after “go live” to eliminate any bad workflow habits.
- After six months, reassess workflows, identifying functions you need or want, and what should be evaluated and implemented.
Have a go-to person:
- Designate a staff member as your practice’s EHR subject matter expert so you can focus on practicing medicine.
- Provide access to the EHR vendor portal, training, user group access, online resources and CMS webinars.
Physician-centric and well-developed EHR systems can help reduce the administrative burden, make quality of care reporting easier, help physicians get paid for the work they do, and as a result, help reduce physician burnout.