One of the most important issues for chief wellness officers is finding ways for physicians and other clinical staff to better use electronic health or medical record systems.
The advent of the electronic record has been a steady source of unhappiness for clinicians, particularly physicians.
“I spend a lot of time on EMR issues,” said Dr. Peter Yellowlees, chief wellness officer at UC Davis Health. “A major part of my work is about looking at how we can reduce the amount of documentation physicians report.”
Research supports the idea that EHRs are one of the biggest contributors to burnout. In fact, a recent survey of 1,792 physicians in Rhode Island found that 70% of doctors who used an EHR system reported stress related to its use and those who reported they had marginal time to document patient information were 2.8 times more likely to have one or more symptoms of burnout.
The federal government acknowledges that the burnout doctors experience is in part due to the growth in reporting regulations. Through a requirement from the 21st Century Cures Act, the CMS and HHS’ Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology are working on ways to mitigate the burden caused by EHRs. And Dr. Andrew Gettinger, ONC chief clinical officer, said he expects the efforts “will directly impact burnout.”
The ONC recently elicited comments from stakeholders on strategies it plans to implement to reduce clinician burden from EHRs.
The ONC plans to focus on three areas:
- Reducing the time needed to report information in EHRs;
- Reducing the time needed to meet regulatory reporting requirements;
- Improving EHRs’ functionality to better fit clinicians’ needs.
To improve physicians’ efficiency with the EHR, Yellowlees has started offering one-on-one training with EHR specialists and reduced requirements for open note documentation. The physicians have been told they only need to write notes if it’s a clinical requirement that helps with patient care.
Additionally, six EHR trainers are available to physicians to provide tips on how they can better use the system for their unique practice needs.
Yellowlees said he’s still going over the data, but preliminary results show the changes have cut the time physicians work on the EHR after-hours by an average of four hours per week.
“We don’t want them on the EMR at home,” Yellowlees said. “If you make physicians more efficient in using the EMR and at the same time reduce the amount of documentation, that will reduce stress and they will have more time with their patients, which is what they want.”