Viewpoint: How new technology could cure tech-related physician burnout

EHRs may not be the time-saving, healthcare-streamlining tools physicians were initially promised, but according to Robert Pearl, MD, former executive director and CEO of the Permanente Medical Group, all it will take to fix that piece of software is another, even more advanced type of software.

In an op-ed for Forbes, Dr. Pearl described the burnout that EHRs have brought upon healthcare providers, who often find themselves stuck behind a computer, rather than face-to-face with patients, for the majority of their workdays.

To release physicians from the clutches of their EHRs, according to Dr. Pearl, the ideal solution is the introduction of a low-cost virtual assistant capable of "listening" to a patient's discussion with their healthcare provider to extract the relevant information and enter it into the patient's medical record with total accuracy.

Barring that — since, as Dr. Pearl notes, technology is still at least a decade away from that level of artificial intelligence — if EHR providers were to allow third-party developers access to their Application Processing Interfaces, those developers could increase interoperability between different EHR systems and also create more user-friendly apps and programs, decreasing the amount of time physicians must spend inputting information into EHRs.

"I hope tech companies keep hacking away at healthcare's digital divide," Dr. Pearl wrote. "Getting physicians out from behind their computers would strengthen the doctor-patient relationship, provide much-needed relief from EHR-related burnout and greatly improve both the physician's performance and satisfaction."

More articles about EHRs:
Indiana hospital to transition to Cerner EHR: 3 notes
Hendrick Health System extends contract with Allscripts
How health records could benefit from blockchain

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