Three Tech-Inspired Ways to Address Physician Administrative Burden and Burnout

The complexity of healthcare technology is a focal point on National Doctor’s Day — observed annually on March 30 — requiring the industry to reflect on the unintended consequences of technology’s unyielding progression. This places a heavy load on physicians, requiring them to dedicate more time to administrative tasks and stay updated on IT, data management, and healthcare analytics.

Should adopting new healthcare technology interfere with a doctor’s capacity to deliver high-quality patient care, it could obstruct healthcare services and lead to a less fulfilling career.

While innovations like Electronic Health Records (EHRs) have revolutionized healthcare delivery by improving access to patient information and aiding care coordination, they have also led to a surge in administrative responsibilities for doctors. Data entry now consumes 4.5 hours daily – time doctors could devote to patient interactions. This shift in priorities has lengthened work hours and stretched medical professionals thin, contributing to burnout and job dissatisfaction among providers.

With 63 percent of physicians experiencing burnout symptoms weekly, healthcare organizations must prioritize technologies that simplify rather than complicate or compete with physicians’ primary responsibilities. The following three strategies are among the many approaches health systems have undertaken to preserve patient-centered care and keep it at the core of the doctors’ profession.

1. Automating Administrative Processes

Physicians facing burnout cite administrative tasks as their primary source of stress. Introducing automation is crucial in alleviating this responsibility. For example, Carle Health adopted Health Catalyst’s Embedded RefillsTM application to simplify medication management for providers and patients.

Upon receiving a refill request, the application promptly examines the patient data in the EHR, cross-references it with Carle Health’s tailored evidence-based refill guidelines, and determines the safety of fulfilling the request. The patient contact center staff are then provided with a concise summary of the patient data and suggested actions for follow-up.

Carle Health now fulfills approximately 30 percent of refill requests on the same day, while 80 percent are completed within three days. This reduced workload associated with fulfilling prescriptions also enabled practitioners to allocate more time to tasks commensurate with their professional expertise, potentially leading to higher job satisfaction – a crucial factor in addressing burnout concerns.

Over three years, this implementation of Embedded Refills resulted in significant benefits:

  • $1.6 million in cost savings thanks to automation and streamlined refills,
  • Establishing refill protocols for over 200 medication classes, and
  • Processing nearly 400,000 refill encounters annually.

2. Automating Patient Education and Reminders

Patient engagement technology like Twistle® by Health Catalyst can significantly reduce doctors’ time on non-clinical tasks by presetting administrative tasks such as patient education on treatment plans, and medication refills and appointment reminders. Twistle enhances patient-provider communication by sending tailored, automated messages that guide patients throughout their healthcare journey, including pre-and post-operations.

Using Twistle, healthcare providers efficiently distribute educational materials, reminders, and care instructions, boosting patient engagement and reducing the time spent on routine follow-ups. For example, a large health system incorporated Twistle and saw a 29 percent drop in calls from post-operative patients, allowing physicians to dedicate time to hands-on patient care while maintaining two-way communication between discharged patients and their healthcare teams.

3. Supplying Physicians with AI-Informed Analytics

Integrated data platforms equipped with analytics tools powered by augmented intelligence (AI) can streamline the data physicians use to make clinical decisions and enable real-time performance monitoring of patient outcomes.

WakeMed Health & Hospitals, for example, adopted the Health Catalyst® data platform and AI tools, which furnished immediate, actionable insights into cardiovascular surgery outcomes. The solutions automated data gathering and promptly provided feedback on clinical care strategies, like the Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) protocols.

Subsequently, real-time data access enabled physicians and other leaders to make timelier, better-informed decisions. This effective use of technology improved mortality rates, reduced readmissions, and empowered physicians to pursue continuous quality improvement without extensive data management and analysis.

Simplifying Healthcare Through Technology 

Recognizing the difficulties faced in today’s healthcare system, National Doctor’s Day is a reminder to address physicians’ technology and data collection concerns. Indeed, the increasing complexity of healthcare requires providers to juggle patient care alongside numerous technical responsibilities, possibly resulting in physician burnout.

Yet, healthcare institutions can ease strains and enable physicians to dedicate themselves more wholly to patient care. As the examples demonstrated, the right technologies can automate administrative tasks, simplify patient follow-up care, and give physicians real-time feedback on care decisions. Embracing such tools is essential in bolstering the medical profession and reaffirming providers’ pivotal role in promoting patient and population health.

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