Penn Medicine's plan to create the most 'provider-friendly work environment'

Penn Medicine is on a mission to create the most provider-friendly work environment possible, and one of the key ways it aims to do so is by getting serious about EMR innovation. 

Later this month, Penn Medicine plans to roll out a new strategic plan, overseen by Kevin Mahoney, CEO of Philadelphia-based University of Pennsylvania Health System, and Larry Jameson, MD, PhD, executive vice president of the health system and dean of the Perelman School of Medicine. "One of the central parts of that is making Penn Medicine the most provider-friendly work environment possible, and that often points to the EMR," Mr. Mahoney told Becker's during an interview in August. 

EHR documentation burden remains a significant pain point for physicians, with 57 percent indicating the issue is a leading cause of burnout in a survey last year. A separate survey conducted in 2019 found many U.S. physicians spend an average of nearly two hours a day completing documentation outside of work hours. 

On that front, the academic medical center has been ramping up efforts to reduce the inbox burden for physicians and has been able to reduce incoming messages by 2.3 million, Mr. Mahoney said. "Some are billing for it; we think a better approach is to [focus on] how we can eliminate that burden on the physician," he said. 

Additionally, a growing number of practices are signing onto Penn Medicine OnDemand, a virtual, 24/7 internal medicine service where patients can do a telehealth visit with a provider, many of whom are nurse practitioners. The calls are taken centrally and the notes are uploaded to the EMR, where physicians can access them later. And like many other healthcare organizations, the health system is implementing ambient listening and ChatGPT to ease documentation burden. 

"We have teams working on [EMR innovation] every day, thinking about how to turn these technologies from something that's often a burden to use to a vital tool to care for patients, just like an MRI and a stethoscope," Mr. Mahoney said in a 2019 blog post. 

In July, Mr. Mahoney supported nurse staffing ratios — a position he said is less about mandating ratios through legislation and more about showcasing what can be done to make the work environment as safe and welcoming as possible. 

"My heart is I want people to come back to healthcare," Mr. Mahoney previously told Becker's. "As an industry, how do we make people want to come back [to healthcare] … to pick us first."

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