Physician frustration and burnout is a real problem in the post EHR scenario. Though the Electronic Health Record (EHR) can transform the way physicians treat their patients, they are seen taking a toll on the providers. Why are physicians frustrated? Simply put, with better healthcare options available now, people are living longer and contributing to the increasing number of patients. There are many patients living with many more chronic illnesses and this translates to each patient having more health issues that must be addressed in a given visit. The main reason why many doctors are tired and frustrated is the electronic medical record. They are overwhelmed by the increasing and more arduous documentation requirements. In her post in nytimes.com, Dr. Danielle Ofri puts it this way, “To be sure, keeping electronic records has benefits: legibility, electronic prescriptions, centralized location of information. But the E.M.R has become the convenient vehicle to channel every quandary in health care. New state regulation? Add a required field in the E.M.R. New insurance requirement? Add two fields. New quality-control initiative? Add six.” So, the question is, can outsourced documentation support or EHR-integrated medical transcription services help to reduce physician frustration and burnout? It could, going by the fact that EHR documentation is a major stressor for physicians.
Major Reasons for Physician Frustration
Burnout is a serious concern. It makes physicians cynical or even negative toward patients, makes them emotionally exhausted, dissatisfied and could ultimately lead to lack of enjoyment in their job and lack of empathy for patients. There are personal and organizational elements that have a role to play in physician burnout:
- Lack of control over work conditions
- Financial problems
- Lack of time
- Inefficient and frustrating work environment
- Often their concerns/requirements are not taken into consideration
- Difficulties adjusting with or adopting new technologies including EHR
- Diverging values as regards mission, purpose, and compensation between physicians and their business leaders
How Outsourced Solutions Could Help
Our focus in this article is on the burnout caused by EHR technology. The electronic medical record has relegated the patient to the background and brought the documentation giant to the forefront. Typing all details into the EHR has become a mammoth task that has transformed providers into data entry people. And, that is the main concern for many doctors who feel that such heavy documentation that pushes the patient away from the provider could compromise patient safety.
How to reduce physician stress from EHR via documentation support?
- Opt for EHR-integrated medical transcription provided by a medical transcription company: Physicians are used to dictation as the standard documentation form for patient encounters and other medical charting needs. By integrating medical transcription with their EHR software, physicians can continue to dictate their notes and professional transcriptionists will enter patient data directly into their charts. Steps include:
- Physicians dictate their notes using a phone, digital dictation device, or app.
- Medical transcriptionists will complete the transcription quickly.
- They ensure that the dictated data is correctly entered into the chart. Medical transcriptionists are trained to use the EHR templates, thus reducing point-and-click work for physicians.
If the physician/hospital system prefers to use voice recognition software-integrated EHR, medical transcription companies provide proofreading services. In this case, a medical transcriptionist would review everything documented by the physician to ensure accuracy. All grammar and punctuation errors are corrected, and they also make sure that the data was entered into the correct data field.
Such an integrated model ensures quick and accurate medical records. There is minimal risk for errors, claims, and litigation. By using dictation, physicians save on the extra time they get to spend with their patients, and patients are happy that their doctor is maintaining eye-to-eye contact.
- Using a scribe program: Another option is to use a medical scribe who can accompany the doctor on her rounds and take down notes. Scribes can also be in the consultation room and help with EHR documentation.
- Deploying artificial intelligence (AI): Artificial intelligence solutions provide real-time intelligence and decision support and many large health systems are planning to deploy it in the near future. These solutions are expected to improve the quality and speed of capturing patient encounters. Physicians hope that accurate documentation will be made of all the details necessary to describe the level of medical complexity and care provided to each patient. Alongside, physician burnout can be reduced by relieving the stress associated with creating a complete patient story on the EHR.
Any kind of documentation support is undoubtedly a great stress reliever for physicians. As earlier, medical transcription companies can continue supporting doctors, as well as small and large healthcare systems. Accurate medical documentation is of prime importance with regard to patient care and safety. Moreover, it is also vital from the point of view of accurate medical billing and reimbursement.