This scenario is all too familiar: It’s nine o’clock at night and a physician is at home catching up on documentation after a full day of patient visits. A recent survey found that physicians were spending two hours of their personal time every night on documentation.
When your institution decides to implement or upgrade your EHR system — and let’s face it, the question is no longer ‘if’ or ‘when,’ but ‘how’ — clarity of vision and an alignment of effort toward a successful strategy are often major challenges.
It’s no secret that one of the biggest challenges for doctors in healthcare today is physician burnout. A study by the Mayo Clinic found that 54.4 percent of responding doctors reported having at least one symptom of burnout and The Physicians Foundation found that nearly half, 49 percent, of the doctors surveyed said they “often or always experience feelings of burnout.” EHRs can be a contributing factor to this. According to a 2017 study, on average, physicians spent only 50 percent of their time on face-to-face interaction with patients, committing the rest of their time and energy to “desktop medicine.”
Preparing your medical staff for an electronic health record implementation takes a lot of time and effort. A fundamental key to success is proper clinical communication strategies; taking into account everyone who is involved with patient care delivery, while ensuring constant dialogue about the implementation.
I hear it more and more from my colleagues: They’re feeling burnt out.
Studies of physician satisfaction find that doctors are reducing the number of patients they see, and report feelings of emotional exhaustion, loss of enthusiasm, and depersonalization of patient care. The most recent study by the Physicians Foundation found that nearly half, 49%, of the doctors surveyed said they “often or always experience feelings of burn-out [sic].”
As Medical Director of Clinical Document Improvement at St. Joseph Health, it is my department’s responsibility to facilitate an accurate representation of a patient’s clinical status, which can be translated into useable, coded data. This data is then processed into quality reporting, physician report cards, public health data, disease tracking, and ultimately reimbursement. As a multi-specialty 380-bed hospital in Orange, CA, with one of the busiest Emergency Departments west of the Mississippi, getting our physicians to document has been an important responsibility.