Amidst the challenges of medical care, some stories of hope

Some organizations find that careful implementations, training and tech support can relieve pressure on clinicians and nurture a culture of care.

This article is part of the February 2023 COVERstory.

Despite the rising tide of clinician burnout on a national level, some organizations have been able to provide a supportive environment that counters that trend, using technology and data to achieve positive results. 

Some organizations have been able to use data from EHR systems’ audit logs or counteract implementation fears for new systems with better training. In these circumstances, technology has shown the potential to ease pressures and improve clinician well-being. 

EHR selection and training 

In one such case, Ozarks Medical Center in West Plains, Mo., improved provider trust in the organization leadership and IT around the EHR by engaging a group of providers in the decision to switch EHRs to the Expanse system from Meditech.  

According to a description of the initiative in KLAS Research’s Arch Collaborative, more than 200 clinicians participated in the selection process. About 20 different groups of clinicians assessed system suitability and were almost unanimous in their selection of the Meditech product. Clinicians were required to have at least six hours of training before go-live. After the switch, some 34 percent of clinicians surveyed about the process said the organization delivers well around the EHR, and the organization said the overall rate of provider burnout decreased by 10 percent. 

“Ozarks Medical Center shared that their approach to deciding on the EHR helped unify the organization and strengthened trust in leadership. This in turn made providers more excited about working at the organization and resulted in reduced feelings of burnout,” the Arch Collaborative analysis noted. 

When technology can demonstrate that it can assist clinicians with daily tasks, it can help counteract potential burnout. For example, at University of Michigan Health-West in Wyoming, Michigan, is using ambient listening technology tied into its Epic systems. The technology listens to the conversation with the patient to extract the medically relevant information in both the provider’s and the patient’s words and write the first draft of the physician’s note. 

According to a write-up on EpicShare, Physicians at UM Health-West spend 10 minutes less time, on average, on notes each day, write better notes and can focus more fully on the patient during a visit, according to Lance Owens, DO, its chief medical information officer. 

Novant Health also achieved positive satisfaction among clinicians when it comes to changes with its EHR system from Epic. “Keeping satisfaction high during our rapid growth required new strategies for supporting physicians and collaborating with them on updates and enhancements to the EHR,” noted Keith Griffin, MD, chief medical information officer for its medical group.  

Success factors include offering peer-to-peer support on demand, using a consistent system to gather and prioritize physician input, changing the way IT collaborates with physicians on EHR configuration, and evaluating physician proficiency and usability regularly. 

In another success story from KLAS Research’s Arch Collaborative, Yuma Regional Medical Center its low burnout rates among clinicians to the EHR onboarding process and ongoing support, including at-the-elbow support from IT technicians and providers’ peers. Yuma has a larger-than-average number of provider leadership positions, which means more physicians have the opportunity to lead among peers and a simpler process for providers to voice questions or concerns about the EHR, which has reduced feelings of burnout. 

“One large pain point for Yuma providers was getting patients through care encounters on time because of EHR issues,” KLAS notes in its synopsis. “By implementing a point of contact that providers can speak to after a patient visit, the atmosphere of visits has improved for providers and patients. In the organization’s most recent EHR experience measurement, 19 percent of their providers reported feeling burned out, which is 14 percentage points lower than the current Arch Collaborative average.” 

Not always a technology solution 

Burnout is not solely caused by technology, and neither can it be solved by technology, contends Conner Bice, a product line owner for KLAS Research’s Arch Collaborative. 

For example, research on burnout by KLAS indicates that staffing shortages have become one of the main reasons for clinician burnout, with that being cited by 40 percent of clinicians reporting burnout, up from 13 percent the previous year. 

Bice believes that resolving burnout successfully in healthcare requires a whole-of-culture approach. He describes a Georgia-based health system that reported a low level of burnout among its clinicians as an example. 

“There’s a theme of support and teamwork there,” he says. “We asked that organization what it was about them that helped them get their results. It’s a small organization and its clinicians are part of the community – they said, ‘We make sure we are supporting each other as doctors and nurses. We foster a family life environment – we do things together, we have fun and we support each other as friends – we help each other move. We celebrate when people reach milestones.’ It’s just an entire culture of support.”

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