Continued efforts to digitize healthcare are both promising and challenging. While it could be years before the healthcare industry is entirely digitally ready, EHR physician burnout is very real. But physicians and healthcare professionals can start experiencing reduced stress and exhaustion from electronic health record (EHR) and electronic medical record (EMR) systems by taking a few actions.
Health information technology (HIT) should be aimed at improving communication between physicians, patients, and other healthcare professionals and making it easier to access the necessary data to provide high-quality medical care. It is theoretically doing just that, but in practice has also increased the demands on the physician.
Survey: Physicians Are Struggling with EHR
Many of the challenges that physicians experience in using EHR are tied to more than one specific factor. A study in 2019 by a group of researchers from the University of New Mexico found that EHRs were one of the leading causes of physician burnout and stress.
The University of New Mexico collaborated with the University of Minnesota, the Centura Health System in Texas and Colorado, Stanford University, and the Hennepin County Medical Center to survey 282 clinicians on the impact of stress and burnout as a result of EHR. The study revealed that approximately 13 percent of clinical stress among physicians was due to EHR.
This wasn't the first study to show these types of results. Previous studies in 2013 and 2017 also showed similar results. EHR was the leading cause of burnout, fatigue, dissatisfaction, and a desire to leave medicine among physicians. While EHR cannot be entirely to blame for physician burnout, it is an excellent place to start in relieving some of the tension that physicians feel.
How Did We Get Here?
Over a decade ago, when the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act was signed into law, electronic record technology was supposed to assist physician offices in becoming cost-effective and streamlined.
EHR accounts for physician charting, burdensome billing processes, insurance guidelines, avoiding a lawsuit or preventing medical malpractice, and government policy and regulatory oversight.
Their EHR must support physicians and healthcare professionals to provide the best care to their patients. The EHR assists in maintaining protocols, following procedures, and complying with policies, but it must do so in a non-burdensome way. Here are some ways physicians can improve their experiences with their electronic health record (EHR) or electronic medical record (EMR) systems, ease frustration and tension, and reduce burnout and stress.
How TempDev Helps NextGen EHR Physician Burnout
TempDev helps many NextGen users to improve their physician burnout rate, and here are 4 ways in which our clients have been successful:
1. NextGen EHR Training
Software is meant to be intuitive, easy to use, and efficient, but the user experience often tells a different story. Many physicians and nurses find EHR systems overly complex and difficult to understand and use. Studies have shown that these challenges are most often due to the lack of training or low quality of training than the actual EHR system itself.
Physicians often run short on time and are challenged by building training into their schedules when their focus is still on patient care. TempDev NextGen training consultants recognize the importance of their time and provide custom-tailored training plans for each physician. They start with training the most frequently used parts of the NextGen EHR application first, like the SOAP template, My Plan template, medication module, and orders module. They also make quick reference training documents to keep handy at the physician's desk to answer questions when they come up. The training materials are focused on workflows and are created by using screenshots from their system so that its familiar to the physician.
2. Customize and Integrate NextGen EHR
NextGen EHR's greatest feature is the ability to customize and make it work for a specific workflow, clinical, or business need. It would be best if you did not always try to change a problem immediately or without buy-in and approval but absolutely look for customizations that may work better for the users needs. Customizations must be done thoughtfully and with upgradability always taken into account, but if they save physicians and nurses time, the return on investment is almost immediate. Additionally, you could look for software solutions that integrate with NextGen to automate specific tasks and boost efficiency.
TempDev has helped many physician groups experiencing fatigue with complex customizations of the NextGen EHR templates. Their NextGen EHR consultant's approach is to meet with key stakeholders and review the biggest pain points to ensure all are addressed in the design. Their NextGen template developers can create custom templates that improve provider satisfaction with the system by making it more efficient. They also sell flat-rate, pre-built NextGen EHR templates that can be quickly installed into your system.
TempDev has also done several integration projects with NextGen EHR, including interfaces with lab systems, radiology systems, and hospital systems. Integration with these systems allows providers to quickly get lab results, diagnostic study reports, as well as discharge and operative reports. Automating the more straightforward tasks within the overall process frees up some time to focus more on individual care and the overall patient experience.
3. Utilize Physician Champions and Superusers to Promote NextGen EHR Usability
A physician champion is someone in the organization who is a respected leader and can help lead by example. Physician champions have strong skills in change management that, combined with other organization leaders, can drive the successful implementation of NextGen EHR and reduce physician burnout.
Superusers are typically clinical support staff who understand the EHR system and are usually the first ones to recognize workflow and system issues. They play an important role and help drive change and are also the first ones that frustrated physicians tend to go to for assistance with NextGen EHR usability issues.
TempDev consultants work with and identify physician champions and superusers as key stakeholders as they engage in any EHR related project. This allows them to have buy-in early on and to raise any issues that might impact workflow or patient care. Making sure physicians know that there are colleagues that they can raise issues in the system or workflow to and know that appropriate action can be taken can help reduce burnout. The TempDev consultants also bring their knowledge of how other clients handle identified pain points and can speak to workflows that work and workflows that might cause more issues.
4. Enable Additional Functionality in NextGen EHR
The NextGen EHR application alone is very robust and can help improve workflow in any ambulatory clinic. But there are additional applications that NextGen Healthcare offers that can help reduce physician burnout:
NextGen Share can be enabled to allow providers to send and receive referrals using Direct Messaging.
Carequality can be enabled to search EHR systems nationwide for your patient and quickly provide past problems, allergies, medications, immunizations, and chart notes from providers outside your network.
NextGen Mobile can be added on to allow physicians to see their patient schedules from their smartphone and can also dictate visits into their phone and have the text return into NextGen EHR.
NextGen Medfusion Patient Portal allows physicians to communicate with their patients via electronic messaging. They can save time on playing phone tag, and they can even save the message to the patient chart.
Contact TempDev if your Physicians Are Burnt Out
As you can imagine, a lot of time, resources, and money have been invested in EHRs. They are here to stay, so investing in their usability is vital to assisting your physicians. However, as systems evolve, become fully digitized, and better align to reach goals, they will also become smarter, giving you the correct data and freeing your time to care for your patients.
Contact us at 888.TEMP.DEV about partnering with our expert-level NextGen consultants to transform your NextGen EHR with the right solutions to support your practice.
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