The gift of time: How health systems can leverage technology to improve the physician and patient experience

With health systems’ adoption of EHR systems, physicians' roles are expanding far beyond just providing good clinical care. Physicians often feel they can add the role of billers, medical record custodians and quality management specialists to their resumes.

During Becker's CEO & CFO Virtual Forum in August, 3M Health Information Systems hosted a roundtable to discuss how physician workflow automation can address this issue and improve the patient and physician experience. Travis Bias, DO, medical director for clinician solutions at 3M Health Information Systems, and healthcare leaders from organizations nationwide shared their insights.

Four key takeaways:

1. Solutions from 3M M*Modal help physicians do the right things at the right time. 3M's natural language understanding engine uses rules-based, clinical intelligence to proactively identify gaps in documentation. While providers chart in the EHR, the system offers nudges in real time. "The goal is to influence the way physicians organize their thinking," Dr. Bias said. "All nudges can be tailored by specialty, as well as their content and frequency. Documentation that is accurate and complete the first time around decreases retrospective queries for physicians and bolsters the efficiency of CDI and coding teams."

2. Clinicians are more likely to accept new tools when they understand the "how" and the "why." The EHR medical director at a university health system on the West Coast noted that training is critical for decreasing the EHR workload for physicians. In addition to understanding how to work as efficiently as possible, clinicians must also understand why they are being asked to do certain tasks in the EHR. "One of the initiatives we've put in place is helping physicians understand what we're trying to accomplish," the EVP and chief medical office of a university health system on the East Coast said . "When they understand the why, their data entry gets more accurate."

3. Leading health systems build clinical documentation in a consistent way across care settings. An integrated health system in the South is reducing the documentation burden facing primary care physicians by documenting information like social determinants of health across care settings. "Every time we touch a patient, such as in the ED or the inpatient environment, we have an opportunity to ask questions," the SVP and chief health informatics officer said. "The documentation has to be consistent across the enterprise, so each time a patient is seen, questions appear in the providers' workflow. Many social determinants prompt clinicians to get the right services in place and it doesn't take extra clicks because the orders are already teed up."

4. Computer-assisted physician documentation captures conditions, while reducing clinicians’ clerical burden. An integrated health system serving patients in the Southwest and Pacific Northwest recently adopted 3M M*Modal’s query delivery tool. "What we are seeing early on with the nudges is increased capture of conditions," the medical director of physician advisor services and CDI said. "There's also a teaching element that goes along with the nudge. After physicians are nudged three or four times for conditions like heart failure, they learn what they need to document."
Today, humans are working hand-in-hand with technology to improve clinical documentation efficiency. Looking ahead, many expect artificial intelligence to play a larger role. As the former CIO of a West Coast hospital said, "I think there will be huge advances in command voice and clinical ambient listening. The ultimate will be autonomous AI that provides predictive solutions for patient diagnosis and treatment."

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