How healthcare is tackling clinician burnout

In an online survey conducted by HealthDay-Harris Poll, almost 63% of physicians and nurses across the nation reported experiencing a moderate or significant level of burnout in their workplace. To combat this, healthcare organizations have been making systemic changes to reduce administrative burdens on their providers with the help of technology.

AI-aided documentation

Heavy workloads, long working hours and administrative burdens are often cited as major contributors to burnout among healthcare professionals.

The increasing use of electronic health records has also been associated with higher levels of stress and burnout, with 57% of providers agreeing that excessive EHR documentation is one of the contributing factors leading to burnout. 

"Across the country, doctors are being inundated with messages, and it's a real problem we need to solve," Christopher Longhurst, MD, chief medical officer and chief digital officer at UC San Diego Health, told Becker's.

But artificial intelligence could be a technology that proves to be crucial in addressing and diminishing the burdens associated with the EHR. 

For example, UC San Diego Health and Chapel Hill, N.C.-based UNC Health are using generative AI, built from Epic Systems and Microsoft, to help physicians respond to patients' questions in online portals. These health systems are hoping the technology will be a game-changer for care teams. 

"I'm just really excited about what I think this can mean to our physicians in terms of giving them time back to interact with their patients," UNC Health CIO Brent Lamm told Becker's.

Mr. Lamm told Becker's that he's hopeful the technology will not only enable physicians to reclaim time for patient interactions but also provide them with more quality time with their families. With the use of AI, Mr. Lamm anticipates a reduction in time spent on administrative tasks, responding to patient messages and documentation, leading to a better work-life balance for physicians and less concern about work-related responsibilities during their evenings at home.

Alternative channels for care

Healthcare organizations have been expanding their utilization of virtual care initiatives such as virtual nurses and virtual sitters to maximize the efficiency of their staff by automating routine tasks, enabling them to focus on more complex and critical aspects of patient care.

Healthcare institutions such as CommonSpirit Health in Chicago; Community Health Systems in Franklin, Tenn.; OSF HealthCare in Peoria, Ill.; and Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn., have all been adopting virtual nursing and seeing positive return on investment. 

For example, CommonSpirit reported significant improvements in patient and nursing satisfaction scores, as well as positive impacts on metrics such as length of stay, infections and falls.

The virtual initiatives have also helped alleviate the strain on traditional nursing staff, especially in the context of nursing shortages, by providing additional support and resources.

The Guthrie Clinic, based in Sayre, Pa., recently established a virtual care command center known as the Pulse Center. The facility combines technology and human resources to support and augment its nursing staff in delivering clinical care.

The Pulse Center has been able to supplement the organization's nursing workforce and reduced its transfers from 50 per month to 19 per month.

By investigating alternative channels for providing healthcare and doing daily work, healthcare organizations have been making progress in alleviating the strains on their workers. 

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