Healthcare Provider Burnout: Addressing the Contribution of Administrative Burden

The increased demands placed on healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic brought to the forefront a healthcare workforce crisis that’s been building for decades. More healthcare providers (HCPs) are being asked to spend time on work not directly related to patient care. As a result, 39% of physicians have reported they are burnt out.

What is burnout? Stress-induced physical or emotional exhaustion and a resulting lack of motivation

A Shrinking Workforce

Retirement is close for many HCPs: 40% of physicians will be at least 65 years old within the next 10 years, and the average age for a registered nurse is 50 years. These HCPs are not being replaced at the same rate. At the same time, the population is growing and getting older, increasing the demand for healthcare. Together, this growing demand for healthcare and a shrinking workforce mean longer hours, higher patient load, and less time per patient for HCPs.

Care Documentation

Documentation of patient care has increased with the move toward performance-based reimbursement. In part to meet the requirements for the United States Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Promoting Interoperability Programs (previously known as the EHR Incentive Programs), electronic health records (EHR) were widely adopted starting in 2011.

Although EHRs have improved patient-provider communication, allowed patients to easily view test results and order prescriptions, and enabled the pooling of data across health systems via patient registries, HCPs are spending a large proportion of their time, up to 5 hours for every 8 hours of scheduled clinical time, using EHR systems.

Therefore, it’s not surprising that a nationwide survey of physicians found that EHRs are the number one contributor to stress and burnout. It’s the large proportion of time spent not only entering information and ordering labs but also attempting to manually extract information for reporting purposes (in addition to other administrative tasks) that pull time away from what HCPs find most meaningful — patient care, research, and medical education.

Using Artificial Intelligence to Mobilize Data and Automate Tasks

EHR systems have been designed primarily to capture clinical notes and facilitate reimbursement, not to easily extract data for reporting, evaluating patient outcomes, improve operations, or run quality improvement initiatives. Therefore, it’s no wonder that trying to use EHR data for these purposes is resource-intensive and frustrating.

The American College of Physicians (ACP), in a recent position paper, listed seven recommendations to reduce excessive administrative tasks in healthcare, including:

  • “To facilitate the elimination, reduction, alignment, and streamlining of administrative tasks, all key stakeholders should collaborate in making better use of existing health information technologies, as well as developing more innovative approaches.”
  • “As the U.S. healthcare system evolves to focus on value, stakeholders should review and consider streamlining or eliminating duplicative administrative requirements.”

 

This is where artificial intelligence (AI) technology can step in and help shift HCP time back toward patient care and research. Making medical data usable often requires standardizing clinician notes, lab reports, imaging, and other unstructured data from multiple, disparate systems into a common, centralized format that can be transferred to and ingested by external tools (e.g., registries, analytics and business intelligence (ABI) software, reporting platforms).

With AI, this is possible in a fraction of the time it would take a human to find and format the data. Moreover, purpose-built algorithms can quickly and accurately: 

  • identify trends in patient outcomes, 
  • match data to predetermined registry fields, 
  • identify patients that might develop a surgical site infection, 
  • predict surgical supply needs, 
  • optimize operating room utilization and staffing, 
  • and more.

 

Ready to reprioritize your clinicians’ time to patient care and improving outcomes?