While the move to EHRs (electronic health records) has revolutionized the way physicians deliver care, an EHR is only optimal if it is implemented in a way that makes it an effective, time saving tool.
A quickly deployed solution that leads to annoying workflow interruptions often causes more harm than good.
Physician burnout is a fairly modern concept that has only grown worse by EHR usability challenges, states a study from the American Medical Association (AMA.) Physicians who participated in the AMA survey remarked that battling unruly EHR systems was a source of frustration that contributes to burnout.
Another point from the 2019 HIMSS Leadership and Workforce Survey showed that healthcare executives believe there is a direct correlation between improving EHR usability and improved clinical outcomes. In other words, a useful EHR makes it easier for physicians to do their jobs, reducing stress, and leading to better outcomes for both healthcare professionals and their patients.
Considering that in many cases physicians are dealing with life or death scenarios, one can understand how poor EHR usability can play a major role in creating “long-term stress . . . emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and a lack of sense of personal accomplishment.”
The EHR is a requirement of today’s healthcare providers, but to some providers it can be viewed as a source of physician burnout. When hospitals decide to deploy an IT tool physicians are required to use, it should be implemented in a way that supports clinical workflows rather than impedes them.
Implementation involves more than just the installation of new software and hardware. New EHR implementation should also address the human element of the equation through discovery meetings, on-boarding, and training. A focus on the end-user will help address both a hospital’s technology and workflow needs.
1. Form a Strong Implementation Team
The best EHR implementations are informed and executed by HIT experts or resources that offer a high degree of role-based healthcare experience. These individuals have either performed the healthcare role or have deep experience utilizing and supporting an EHR solution. Each member of the team who executes the implementation should be able to advise hospital users at every level. MEDHOST’s EHR implementation team traditionally includes seasoned nurses, pharmacy techs, HIM directors, and revenue cycle specialists.
2. Conduct Extensive EHR Usability Testing
Multiple rounds of integrated testing with an EHR system may include scripts applicable to the prevalent patients and service lines that make up a hospital. As a supplement to testing, an EHR solution provider should share post-action reports for each round of analysis. Reports can be used to easily identify and resolve potential workflow issues before the EHR goes live.
3. Identify and Train “Superusers”
At least two individuals per department per shift who will access the EHR solution should be identified and trained as superusers. Superusers become masters of the technology and can help hospital staff better adapt to prescribed EHR workflows.
Training a superuser also entails examining how those individuals advise on EHR implementation to ensure they can make necessary changes once the process is complete. Long after implementation is complete, superusers can also act as liaisons or internal advocates for a facility to the EHR provider and assist with the on-boarding of new employees.
4. Support the Documentation Process
Implementation of a usable EHR should not only meet regulatory compliance, but it should create repeatable workflows that make the documentation process easier. Below are specific EHR functions or capabilities that can be implemented to help streamline documentation for providers:
Physician burnout is treatable with an investment in your team’s well-being. Hospitals can start investing in better physician experiences by investing in healthcare IT technologies designed and implemented to make their job easier. Reduce stress and empower your physicians to drive better patient outcomes.
Treat your clinicians to an EHR experience tailored to their needs. See how our expert implementation team can help. Call us at 1.800.383.6278.