HIMSS ’19: Technologies that are Solving Physician Burnout – Not Adding to It

02.27.19 Alyssa Trenkamp Healthcare
HIMSS ’19: Technologies that are Solving Physician Burnout – Not Adding to It

Technology solutions that ease physician burnout were an important topic at HIMSS 2019

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be recapping some of the hottest healthcare IT topics discussed at the 2019 Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) event, including — physician burnout, artificial intelligence (AI), the consumerization of healthcare, and the current state of system interoperability.

This week, our focus turns to physician burnout, a crisis in healthcare that could leave the United States with a shortage of up to 120,000 physicians by 2030, according to a study from the Association of American Medical Colleges.

TWEET THIS: Physician #burnout could leave the U.S. with a shortage of up to 120K physicians by 2030

Dr. Mary Asal Tweets about Physician BurnoutWith 1 in 50 physicians in the U.S. planning to leave medicine altogether in the next two years, and physicians having a suicide rate twice the level of the general population, it is quite clear that healthcare has a major crisis on its hands. While much of this burnout is caused by technology, HIMSS attendees and speakers discussed how physician burnout can actually be improved through the use of specialized technology that eases the burden wrought by computerized physician order entry (CPOE). In fact, Dr. Mary Asal, Pediatric Emergency Fellow at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center tweeted:

“Focusing on tech solutions for #burnout has been a beautiful part of #HIMSS19 this week. If we forget to care for providers… How can we expect them to care for everyone else?” Like or Retweet Mary Asal’s Tweet

Data Entry Takes Time From Patients and Perpetuates Physician Burnout

One of the biggest contributing factors to physician burnout is the administrative burden associated with updating medical records in the Electronic Health Record system (EHR). Unfortunately, due to the evolution of healthcare policies and procedures, doctors often find themselves spending an increasing number of hours entering data into the EHR—often after hours—in order to meet requirements. In fact, studies show that for every hour a physician spends with a patient, they spend two hours on EHR-related clerical work.

TWEET THIS: For every hour a physician spends with a patient, they spend two hours on EHR-related clerical work #burnout #HealthcareIT

“Physicians want to be physicians. Nobody signed up to be data entry clerks,” said Andrew Brooks, MD, co-founder and Chief Medical Officer at Tiger Connect. “This is why TigerConnect provides something so critical. The simple ability to move a piece of information from point A to point B, and know it was delivered, read, and acted upon is huge in healthcare.”

Fortunately, emerging solutions like AI, virtual care, and clinical communications systems, offer a glimmer of hope. While they may not alleviate data entry, they have the potential to expose critical data from the EHR to drive better communication and decision making at the point of care.

AI Seen as Having Future Potential for Addressing Physician Burnout

Healthcare leaders at HIMSS acknowledged that Artificial Intelligence (AI) has great potential to reduce administrative burden on physicians but also caution that AI should be used carefully and in combination with human intelligence to deliver high-quality care.

Machine intelligence + human intelligence = medical intelligence, noted HIMSS Chief Technology and Innovation Officer Steve Wretling in an interview crediting Anthony Chang, MD, chief intelligence and innovation officer at Children’s Hospital of Orange County.

“The ability for AI to be successful is based on how well we can access the data, organize the data, and understand the data,” Wretling added. “Right now, what we are seeing is the ability to augment decision making for clinicians, not necessarily to replace it.”

TWEET THIS: Machine intelligence + human intelligence = medical intelligence #HealthcareAI

While the industry is proceeding with caution, the irony is that AI might just be what is needed to bring the human touch back to the forefront of medicine, while helping to reduce physician burnout.

Virtual Care Helps Physicians Participate Remotely

Virtual care was another hot topic coming out of HIMSS19 that also has the potential to alleviate physician burnout. While having a physician physically present at certain points during the patient care journey is critical, there are other points where the presence of the physician in the room isn’t necessary.

Knowing when these conversations can happen virtually, or when you can make care more available by bringing a specialist into the care planning conversation remotely, is critical.

To this end, TigerConnect introduced several virtual care solutions at HIMSS19 that extend the clinical communication platform to include the patient and patients family and other care team practitioners. These included TigerTouch, where care teams can loop the patient or family into a mobile chat or video conversation; Virtualized Nurse Call, where nurses can respond from anywhere in the hospital to bedside requests, and Virtual Care and Rounding, which allows care team members who can’t be present at the bedside to coordinate on healthcare treatment decisions remotely via video.

“With hospitals scrambling to control costs, care teams and specialists distributed across a health system, and a mobile-savvy patient population demanding a more convenient care experience, the need for virtualized care has never been greater,” said Will O’Connor, MD and CMIO at TigerConnect. “As the pioneer in healthcare messaging, TigerConnect is uniquely positioned to solve the challenge of extending care to wherever the patient is situated.”

Clinical Communication Systems Are Evolving to Drive Greater Staff Satisfaction

One of the main challenges with EHR systems is data overload, which can overwhelm physicians, complicate decision making, contribute to medical errors, and negatively impact patient care. Clinical communication and collaboration (CC&C) systems evolved out of the need to help physicians connect and collaborate by filtering through critical patient information and intelligently routing it in real time.

TWEET THIS: #ClinicalCommunication systems evolved out of the need to help physicians connect & collaborate vs. #EHR clicking and filtering through data

In recent years, we continue to see CC&C platforms evolving to fill needed gaps that enable collaboration and communication at the point of care. One option is to provide detailed alerts around critical lab results, MRIs, and more that can be viewed instantly from a smartphone or PC. Alerts can be routed to individuals, specific roles, or groups to ensure the entire care team is kept in the loop.

Additional, functionality like Escalated Messaging—a capability unveiled by TigerConnect at HIMSS—helps ensure requests are responded to in a timely manner, particularly during a critical care situations, furthering

the value added by CC&C technology.

Learn more about how TigerConnect integrates with your EHR to accelerate physician productivity.

While there is no single way to solve physician burnout, AI, virtual care, and clinical communication systems have the potential to ease workload and create efficiencies for physicians at the point of care. In a future blog post, we’ll explore the recent healthcare interoperability rules announced from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC), and how these new rules hold great potential for healthcare IT vendors to seamlessly access and manage critical data, creating even greater efficiencies at the point of care.

Want to learn more? Read this booklet on how TigerConnect can help your care team through these eight high-impact use cases for accelerating workflows and care collaboration across your health system.