How a digital transformation can mitigate healthcare employee burnout

Burnout among health care workers is at an all-time high, and the fallout from this burnout may be felt for years to come.

Healthcare worker burnout has always been an issue of concern. Healthcare workers are stressed about isolation, financial worries, and concerns about the health and safety of their patients, their families, and themselves. This burnout manifests itself in several ways, including depression, anxiety, and even post-traumatic stress.

Burnout among health care workers has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced shutdowns, unusual work routines, extended work hours, and uncertain work setting situations. The results of all this have been record numbers of people leaving their jobs. Nearly one in five healthcare workers left their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic, and a recent survey discussed in Forbes magazine said that nearly 50 per cent of U.S. healthcare workers plan to leave their jobs by 2025. These record number of job vacancies are impacting not just emergency room staff but almost every level of health care, up to and including those in the eye care industry.

Electronic health records and employee burnout

In their early days, electronic health records were blamed for a rise in healthcare workers' burnout, dissatisfaction, and plans to leave the medical field.

In the early days of electronic health records, these systems expanded rapidly in clinics, hospitals, and doctors’ offices, and studies showed that physicals who used a higher number of EHR features and functions reported more time pressure to complete tasks. This led to burnout.

The main problem, it was later discovered, was that work on electronic health records fell outside of normal work hours. This meant that work-life balance, already a factor of concern for workers in the health care field, was put out of whack even further. Out-of-work hours spent with EHRs were closely associated with reports of burnout.

The new insight that can help solve problems

Electronic health records were not meant to be a cause of employee burnout and job dissatisfaction. EHRs were built to improve medical care overall and streamline the delivery of care. EHRs were designed to share information with other health care providers and organizations, including labs, medical imaging faculties, pharmacies, school and workplace clinics, and more. Not too long ago, of course, everyone’s medical records were stored on paper, not readily accessible to an individual’s health care team, and difficult to obtain when the patient wanted to transfer to a new care team. With EHRs, all of that information is stored digitally, meaning anyone with the right access credentials, including the patient, can easily log on to an EHR system and get the information in seconds.

Early EHR systems, however, were complicated and confusing, and many health care providers implemented EHR systems with little or no training for staff. Many of those same health care providers already had issues with time management, inadequate clinic staffing, complex care routines, a lack of scribes, and other issues.

New electronic health record systems can put an end to employee burnout

Today’s crop of electronic health record systems are much better than those that were first introduced to the industry years ago. Today’s EHRs are smarter, easier to use, and truly do save health care providers time.

Eye Care Leaders, for example, has a selection of tools for eye care providers that include single-platform EHRs as well as other tools designed to improve, enhance, and better coordinate many aspects of an eye care practice. Those added tools include practice management solutions, ASC tools, optical tools, analytics, MIPS assurance, patient payment collection solutions, and more.

New cloud-based EHR solutions can replace the time-consuming paper documentation practices that produced records that are not sharable and could even contain inaccuracies. Now, electronic health records can handle many of the tasks that used to result in burnout as well as:

  • Reduce the number of missed diagnoses
  • Reduce gaps in care
  • Increase compliance rates and compliance quality
  • Result in more meaningful patient-physician relationships
  • Improve the overall quality of care

With an electronic health record system in place, your office can spend less time chasing charts since all of your patient's medical records are available in an accessible location to all of the appropriate staff. In most cases, all a provider needs to do is log into their tablet or laptop computer and open the appropriate file. This saves time and reduces denied claims thanks to automated insurance coverage tools and pre-authorization checks. Additional features that save time include digital scribes and connected devices that future automate and reduce the time a health care provider is required to spend entering information. 

Much of the hard work of getting an EHR up and running hinges on electronic health records training. Today’s EHRs are much easier to use, and there is an increased focus on up-front training and regular training updates when new features are changed or released.

Ready to enjoy the benefits of an electronic health record?

If your EHR is old and outdated or simply not working for your office anymore, the time may be right for changing systems.

Many providers fear switching EHRs because of worries about having to learn a new system, fears that your staff may resist learning the new system, and general anxiety about changing something you are already familiar with. Nonetheless, there are some signs that the time to change EHR vendors has come. They include:

  • EHR workflow impacts your efficiency
  • Your EHR cannot grow as you add locations, providers, or specialties
  • Your current EHR vendor’s customer service leaves you unhappy
  • You lack mobile access to your EHR system
  • Other practices are pulling ahead of your due to the extended capabilities of their electronic health record systems

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