Study Links Physician Burnout to EHR Data Entry

EHR Data EntryEven with digitization of patient records and computerized data entry by physicians, medical transcription outsourcing is still relevant. Information Management recently reported on a new nationwide study which links electronic health records (EHRs) to physician burnout and dissatisfaction. Led by Mayo Clinic and conducted in collaboration with investigators from the American Medical Association, the survey covered 6,560 physicians between August and October of 2014.

Clerical Burden affects Provider Performance and Wellbeing

Physicians are not cut out for data entry tasks, especially in the office setting where their primary focus is on arriving at a proper diagnosis and prescribing treatment. With medical transcription services, they do not have to worry about clinical documentation. The service provider delivers accurate and timely transcripts of their dictation, allowing physicians to do what they do best.

The key findings of the new study which was published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings are as follows:

  • Low levels of provider satisfaction with EHRs and computerized physician order entry (CPOE) were linked to the amount of time needed for clerical tasks (data entry).
  • The electronic practice environment put physicians at higher risk of professional burnout, which is described as “a syndrome characterized by exhaustion, cynicism and feelings of ineffectiveness.”
  • Satisfaction varied significantly by specialty. Family medicine physicians, urologists, otolaryngologists and neurologists had the lowest satisfaction rate with EHRs due to the increased clerical burden.

Earlier studies also indicated the problems physicians face with EHRs. In September 2015, Medical News Today reported on a study which found that even after emergency physicians had got used to a new commercial electronic health record (EHR), their tasks performed per minute rose by nearly 12 percent, which increased patient safety risks. The senior study author noted that multi-tasking rarely improves human performance.

“The increase in task-switching after the new EHR was implemented imposes a cognitive burden on the physician in the already complex and dynamic environment of the emergency department,” he said.

Support Services to Manage Clinical Documentation

According to the lead author of the Mayo Clinic led study, the solution lies in finding ways to blend EHRs, patient portals and electronic order entry in a way that does not increase physicians’ clerical burden or affect their efficiency. To improve efficiency, he recommends innovative approaches such as using medical scribes, having nurses handle electronic communication with patients, and training support staff to use verbal communication to interact with patients.

An experienced medical transcription service company plays an important role in this scenario. Unlike medical scribes, they are not onsite, but provide valuable clinical documentation support by transcribing physician dictation accurately and in custom turnaround time. Their services are very useful for medical specialists in various fields. Their teams of expert transcriptionists also have skills that are applicable to an EHR-centric documentation setting, which allows them to provide feeds to EHRs. Since they are well-versed in HIPAA and regulatory compliance, physicians do not have to worry about the confidentiality of PHI (Protected Health Information).

As national mandates and incentives drive the adoption of electronic medical records, it’s hardly surprising that medical transcription outsourcing continues to be an important cog in the system.

To learn more about Physician Burnout we have written a new blog “Study finds Healthcare Provider Burnout puts Patient Care and Safety at Risk” on August 17, 2017