Can EHRs Rescue Doctors from Physician Burnout?


According to an Archives of Internal Medicine survey, more than 41% of physicians suffer from at least one symptom of physician burnout. This can result in increased medical errors and lower-quality care for patients.

The good news is primary care physicians aren’t powerless in the fight to prevent career fatigue. By changing practice workflows and delegating more of the responsibilities of patient care, PCPs can still find joy in the medical profession.

At least that’s the indication from a study in the Annals of Family Medicine, which examined 23 high-performing primary care practices to identify the innovations that “make the job of primary care feasible and enjoyable as a life’s vocation.” Luckily, electronic health records (EHRs) can help in both regards.

Today, we’ll look at three of the best workflow practices identified in the study and how a quality EHR can help implement all three.

Pre-visit Planning

Seeing patients without proper planning can put your practice behind the curve rather quickly. Not preparing means you’ll have to juggle pulling charts, analyzing lab results and diagnosing medical issues – all before the next scheduled patient arrives.

In this situation, it’s easy for stress to build up.

An EHR with intelligent task management let’s you organize patient information before the visit so you can treat patients faster while not sacrificing quality of care. By placing all the essential information needed for clinical documentation in one inbox, practices reduce the runaround.

Eliminating Time-Consuming Documentation

CareCloud and QuantiaMD’s Practice Profitability Index revealed that 58% of physicians spend the equivalent of one full workday a week doing paperwork. For some reason, it’s hard to imagine many physicians going through the rigors of medical school for the chance to toil with stacks of paperwork.

Your EHR should not only speed up the charting process, but excel in other documentation areas such as computerized physician order entry (CPOE) as well.  EHRs with order sets allow you to build orders for specific types of patients or diagnoses and keep you from having to repetitively build entirely new orders for each unique patient.

Streamlining Prescription Management

When you diagnose a patient and write them a prescription, you’re assuming they’ll follow through. But experts estimate only 50% of patients take their medications as directed. Noncompliance can lead plans leads to a frustrating cycle of never-ending follow-ups and re-treating ailments that should’ve been resolved after the initial visit.

EHRs with ePrescribing take much of the prescription process – other than choosing the medication – out of your hands. Prescription orders are sent to pharmacies with just a couple of mouse clicks. This saves patients from having to drop off the order manually and return later when it’s filled. Enhanced patient convenience increases the chances of prescription compliance.

Full ePrescribing capability will also alert you when a patient doesn’t pick up their prescription order. This will prevent your staff from having to contact every patient to check if they’re taking their medication.

EHRs are just one of the several technologies that help prevent physician burnout.  If you’re starting to feel worn down by your practice’s administrative duties, look into practice management software as well, as it can help streamline operations. Embrace technology. It may be your ticket to bringing the joy back to primary care.

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