EHRs, Documentation Leading to a Physician Burnout Crisis
Dictation and Transcription Improvements Cited as No. 1 Fix by Docs
When they were kids thinking about their future career, physicians didn’t dream of taking care of administrative record-keeping. They dreamed about taking care of patients.
But extensive documentation fatigue has become a leading concern for the healthcare industry. Just this week, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a draft strategy aimed at reducing the amount of time clinicians spend recording information in electronic health records (EHRs). Now there’s an open 60-day comment period for clinicians and others to provide feedback to the draft strategy.
The healthcare industry is waking up to the reality of doctors’ serious unhappiness with EHRs. Many physicians seems to agree with one emergency room physician who sees EHRs as “predominantly a billing tool, secondarily a compliance tool … [There are] too many boxes to click, too many irrelevant alerts, soft or hard stops which create alert fatigue. [There is] very little useful clinical decision support.”
And that unhappiness with the tools is leading to overall dissatisfaction. In a nationwide survey of 254 physicians from different specialties, physicians cite EHRs as the biggest contributing factor to burnout.
Incredibly, the amount of time physicians spend on administrative work has surpassed the amount of time spent with patients. A study published last year in Health Affairs reveals that physicians spend more of their time doing “desktop medicine” as they do seeing patients. Desktop medicine includes “communicating with patients through a secure patient portal, responding to patients’ online requests for prescription refills or medical advice, ordering tests, sending staff messages, and reviewing test results.” The study, which analyzed 31 million EHR transactions over four years by primary care physicians, shows that physicians are logging an average of 3.08 hours with patients and 3.17 hours on documentation every day.
With the demands for a more physician-friendly EHR, doctors have identified dictation and transcription as a preferred part of a better EHR solution. In the same survey where EHRs are blamed as the primary contributor to physician burnout, the No. 1 suggestion (17 percent) for fixing the problem was to add dictation and scribe features to EHRs. The second and third suggestions were not even solutions, but complaints, with 13 percent recommending that less time be spent in the system and 9 percent of respondents recommending that EHRs be replaced altogether.
The survey respondents were clear that the EHR workflow was not an innovation. Restoring dictation and transcription would help, respondents say. One orthopedic surgeon commented, “Develop a better and more user-friendly EHR. It shouldn’t take 20 minutes to do something that dictation takes three minutes.”
For help understanding how a state-of-the-art dictation and transcription platform can deliver proven benefits to physician practices, hospitals, integrated delivery networks (IDNs) and medical transcription services organizations (MTSOs) of all sizes, and successfully integrate with leading EHR systems, read about Doc-U-Scribe or contact Saince.