MassGen to use tech, outsourcing to ease physician burnout

Massachusetts General Physicians Organization is teaming with a consulting and services firm to build new tools to address the needs of clinicians.

Clinical leaders at MGPO and IKS Health in India will identify common challenges that negatively affect ambulatory care and work toward solutions to reducing physician burnout, including the negative effects that technology can have on clinicians.

The organizations have worked with each other previously—IKS Health assisted the physicians in migrating to a new electronic health records platform in 2015. MGPO executives say that initiative saved more than 30,000 physician hours because physicians in India reviewed more than 300,000 patient records during the migration. Other collaborations included a virtual scribing service to create structured clinical notes, coding and revenue cycle services and a centralized prescription renewal service with all refills handled by the India remote team following protocols established by MGPO.

“We realize that as we try to reduce burden on our doctors that routine tasks can be delegated to third parties,” says David Ting, MD, chief information medical officer and an adult and pediatric specialist at Massachusetts General Physicians Organization. “Our India partner offers physicians to help with clinical activities that we would not trust non-physicians to handle. All IKS physicians have been to medical school. India graduates more doctors than it needs, so doctors in between practice opportunities can work for us.”

Most recently, the outsourced physicians have been entering abstractions into the EHR, and they also handle e-prescribing, medication management and electronic health record meaningful use functions.

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“Our uniqueness is we are creating the human robot hybrid,” Ting says. “Everyone is going after artificial intelligence and robotics to take over documentation and coding. But AI tools are falling short; the technology is not ready for prime time to take over clinical processes.”

Consequently, Massachusetts General wants to combine the human factor with technology to show physicians how their practices will be more automated within five years. The near-future use of technology to reduce physician burdens, Ting envisions, could involve an Amazon Echo type of device that listens to dictation and captures the conversation with good accuracy. Over time, this device could become a virtual assistant to MGPO doctors as well as the outsourced physician partners in India.

Massachusetts General also is working to develop AI-driven coding solutions to automate the production of billing and CPT codes based on the clinical documentation. “Our goal has been to find ways to use technology to bring tangible relief to our doctors,” says Timothy Ferris, MD, a primary care specialist and CEO of Massachusetts General Physicians Organization.

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