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It’s Time for EHRs to Alleviate, Not Exacerbate, Clinician Burnout
By Nancy Pratt, RN
Nancy Pratt, RN, MSN is senior vice president of clinical product development of CliniComp of San Diego, CA.
We all see the headlines – clinician burnout is taking an enormous toll. It is estimated that 47% of US healthcare workers may leave the profession by 2025. One of the most-cited sources contributing to burnout is electronic health records (EHRs), with nearly 60% of physicians in one poll suggesting that EHRs need a complete overhaul.
In my work with clinicians, their biggest frustration with EHRs is time. So much of their time is spent doing manual, EHR-related tasks, causing them to spend nearly twice as much time in the EHR as they do with patients. A poll by Stanford Medicine found that hospital-based physicians spent 25 of the 37 minutes on behalf of each patient in the EHR.
It doesn’t need to be this way. By collaborating with physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and other clinicians, EHRs can become a trusted part of care delivery processes, freeing clinicians to focus on their patients and recapture the most satisfying qualities of their professions. With a focus on human-centered design, EHRs can help reduce clinician burnout in three ways:
Capture documentation naturally as part of the workflow
Given the frustration with documentation, EHRs need to move beyond focusing on transactions to creating efficient, supportive workflows for all clinicians. One process that is often frustrating and burdensome is medication reconciliation. A well-designed EHR workflow can present this critical step at a natural point in the care process. By presenting a side-by-side comparison of what’s current and what’s needed for the patient, the process becomes a fast and accurate way for physicians to manage medications.
Bring device data into the workflow automatically
Using standard integration protocols, such as APIs, EHRs can automatically integrate data from bedside monitoring and other devices into user-focused workflows. Instead of requiring nurses to enter data manually, the EHR should be fully integrated, perform calculations automatically, and present in a user-friendly way. In addition to reducing errors and manual tasks, nurses working with monitored patients report saving as much as 15 to 20 minutes per patient per shift with this level of integration.
Remove downtime as a barrier
It’s surprising that system maintenance and upgrades still require planned downtime for many EHRs, slowing down care delivery with manual, paper-based workarounds. Unplanned downtime, experienced by 96% of organizations according to one study, can be even more onerous. EHRs should be built upon modern foundational architectures that don’t require scheduled downtime and have built-in redundancy to prevent unplanned downtime. Preventing downtime alleviates a common source of stress for clinicians when care delivery is hampered by lack of access to patient information.
It’s time for the industry to listen when so many clinicians say EHRs need to be revamped. Using flexible, well architected technologies and collaborating with clinicians, EHRs can enhance rather than hinder care delivery. At last, EHRs can support clinician wellness by enabling them to provide the highest quality patient care, bringing the joy of helping patients back into their day-to-day work.