How Novant's 'stupid stuff' initiative saved providers 26M EHR clicks

Carl Armato heard a consistent sentiment as he was rounding on physicians: The amount of time they spent in the EHR was creating a burdensome workload. This led to a resolution-focused initiative launched several years ago at Winston-Salem, N.C.-based Novant Health, where Mr. Armato is president and CEO. 

Across organizations, physicians and other clinicians have long cited a need to ease documentation requirements in the EHR. Research published in March 2022 found that U.S. physicians who use EHRs spend an average of 1.84 hours a day completing documentation outside work hours.

The Getting Rid of Stupid Stuff initiative at Novant is designed to address this issue, by allowing physicians and other clinicians to provide input on the "stupid stuff" related to their day-to-day interactions in the EHR. In the GROSS program's first year, Novant addressed 300 requests from clinicians to optimize the EHR and make it more user friendly, the health system said in a statement. Novant also addressed an additional 200 requests to provide user experience education for clinicians.

As part of the program, the system added new buttons and new clicks to the EHR to help physicians efficiently find and document information related to issues such as patient safety and social determinants of health.

"But what we decided is we were going to let physicians help us focus on those buttons and those reminders and those safety tips and those quality metrics that really could be helpful to them in the real time of seeing patients and in our effort to reduce this administrative workload," Mr. Armato said.

He estimated that Novant is now on track to reduce 26 million clicks in the EHR, which should save the health system's medical group 36,000 hours, or about four years, of work.

Best practice alerts in the EHR that either interrupt the workflow or display but do not require immediate action were also addressed, said Mr. Armato. 

Through BPA changes in Novant clinics, the health system removed more than 400,000 alerts with an estimated time savings of 582 hours every 90 days. By making BPA changes in the acute setting, the health system removed another 982,000 alerts with an estimated time savings of 1,363 hours over 90 days. 

Additionally, GROSS reduced the number of messages providers receive in their in basket, said Mr. Armato. Last year, the health system suppressed "thank you" messages from patients. 

Since Jan. 1, the health system suppressed more than 91,800 messages that required no action from clinicians or care team members, representing about 5 percent of patient medical advice messages.  

"Those are great examples of Getting Rid of Stupid Stuff that we uncovered by rounding and listening to the voices of our physician partners," said Mr. Armato.

Novant, which operates in North Carolina and South Carolina, has 16 medical centers and more than 1,900 physicians in more than 800 locations.   

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