Problem Solving 101
The writer C.S. Lewis, opining about how best to solve problems, astutely noted, “A sum can be put right: but only by going back till you find the error and working it afresh from that point, never by simply going on.”
A growing number of hospital executives are embracing Lewis’s wisdom when it comes to addressing the problem (or “public health crisis”) of physician burnout. They are revisiting old organizational and operational assumptions, and taking necessary steps to address physician burnout head on.
For some, their work is starting to add up. Elements of the solution include improved communications, physician support services, community-based efforts, and a more thoughtful, physician-friendly approach to information technology.
PatientKeeper CMO Christopher Maiona, M.D., a practicing hospitalist for more than 20 years, knows from first-hand experience how healthcare IT can both hamper and help care delivery. Currently, most hospitals have the wrong approach to electronic health records (EHRs), he says; it’s evident when you look at how physicians spend their days. For every hour a physician spends interacting with a patient, they spend two hours on administrative tasks and EHR data entry. Countless alerts and displays of irrelevant information are complicating the physician’s user experience rather than making their lives easier. Ironically, as healthcare facilities have added information technology, they have reduced the productivity of their most valuable human resources.
But all hope is not lost for healthcare IT. The potential for EHRs to transform care delivery for the better – to put “health” back in EHRs – is still very real. According to KLAS Research, “Organizations that succeed have cultures that want to ensure they’re doing what they can to improve EHR use.” Advances in artificial intelligence, data visualization and modern interface design present opportunities to dramatically improve the usability and clinical value of health IT.
As Dr. Maiona says, “Technology should be an extension of the physician – a tool that makes these highly skilled and knowledgeable professionals better at their jobs. When the computer is as indispensable to patient care (and as easy to use) as the stethoscope, we will have brought healthcare into the 21st century, and taken a giant step toward eliminating a major problem contributing to the physician burnout crisis.”