Your Choice of EHR Could Be The Cause of Increased Physician Burnout

July 19, 2023 • 4 minute read

A survey conducted on Canadian Physicians reported that 75% of participants who exhibited signs of burnout identified EHR (Electronic Health Record) Systems as one of the main stressors. Another study, published by The Mayo Clinic Proceedings, found that for every hour physicians spent in direct patient contact, they had to dedicate an extra 1 to […]

A survey conducted on Canadian Physicians reported that 75% of participants who exhibited signs of burnout identified EHR (Electronic Health Record) Systems as one of the main stressors. Another study, published by The Mayo Clinic Proceedings, found that for every hour physicians spent in direct patient contact, they had to dedicate an extra 1 to 2 hours to EHRs and deskwork, along with an additional hour outside working hours for EHR-related activities.

While EHR solutions have the potential to revolutionise service delivery in healthcare and facilitate improved care from doctors and administrative staff, their adoption has, in some cases, exacerbated the challenges that healthcare providers face in discharging their duties.

Poor usability is one of the leading causes of dissatisfaction among physicians working with EHRs. This is mainly attributed to poorly designed, server-based technologies that are slow, require too much effort and break down often. Consequently, multiple studies have established a strong link between EHR usage and increased cognitive load and higher stress levels among clinicians. This issue becomes considerably significant given the rising number of doctors leaving the NHS due to burnout and dissatisfaction, amidst the ongoing shortage.

Not All EHRs Are Made Equal

The expanding functionality of EHRs beyond clinical use has increased the potential benefits to be derived from them. However, this has also made most systems incredibly difficult to operate, especially for physicians who predominantly rely on basic commands.

Many vendors, in a bid to offer the most competitive solutions, have unfortunately overloaded their systems with add-ons that make operations excessively complex. These poorly designed systems often include unnecessary steps that make users struggle to perform even simple tasks, translating to valuable time spent away from patients. Eventually, this increases frustration, reduces job satisfaction and leads to burnout.

The Journal of the American Medical Association has identified key elements of EHR design that negatively impact physicians’ well-being:

  • Data and Information Overload

When physicians are required to manoeuvre through an intricate web of tabs and pages filled with excessive data every time they access a patient’s file, it imposes an unnecessary burden on them. This data overload not only hampers their productivity but also elevates stress levels.

A properly designed EHR solution offers users the ability to filter information, enabling them to quickly locate the specific data they need. Additionally, with clearly defined roles, non-clinical workflows can be separated from clinical ones, so doctors are not weighed down by tasks like handling insurance information, allowing them to focus more on delivering quality care.

  • Slow system response times

Slow systems can have a profound impact on workflow efficiency and lead to frustration among physicians. The waiting period for screens to load or for processes to complete can result in unnecessary interruptions, hinder productivity, and create barriers to delivering timely patient care.

These issues can be effectively addressed by adopting On-Cloud EHR solutions like Meddbase. Meddbase is fast, eliminates concerns related to hardware malfunctions, provides enhanced security measures and reduces hardware cost. It also enables practitioners to access patient data from anywhere, supporting your practice’s telehealth efforts.

  • Excessive data entry

Poorly designed EHRs frequently impose heavy data entry burdens on physicians, necessitating manual input of extensive patient information including medical history, diagnoses, treatment plans and documentation. This laborious data entry process is time-consuming and opens up avenues for errors.

In contrast, properly designed EHRs alleviate the need for manual data entry. These well-designed systems offer interoperability by enabling seamless uploads of records for incoming new patients and facilitating smooth handovers across departments. They also incorporate automatic data capture from lab results, scans, etc eliminating the need to manually input information.

  • Issues with quick navigation

Complex and unintuitive user interfaces within EHR systems hinder efficient navigation and disrupt workflows.

Meddbase, designed with the end-users in mind, sufficiently addresses these challenges. For instance, users are provided with a dedicated quick access tab that allows them to customise their interface with commonly used commands. Users can also be provided with a simplified interface with essential functionality for specific roles. 

Meddbase supplements such features with online resources such as tutorials and the User Voice forum, as well as offers specialised training sessions that empower users to gain a deeper understanding of the EHR’s features to enhance their proficiency.

  • Note bloat

EHR notes can become bloated with extensive documentation, including repetitive information, templates, and excessive detail. This can make it challenging for physicians to extract relevant information quickly, potentially impacting the continuity of care and clinical decision-making. Doctors also reported interference with patient-physician relationships during consultations as they had to divide their attention between reading unnecessarily long cut-and-pasted progress notes and attending to patients.

Due to the abundance of information in EHRs, physicians also have concerns about overlooking critical data, such as test results, allergies, or medication interactions, which can contribute to feelings of stress and anxiety.

The Potential Of Well-Designed, Properly Implemented EHRs

Many of the benefits offered by EHRs are often overshadowed by their complex designs, poor execution and inadequate support from vendors. This makes them challenging for users to manage and utilise effectively. Instead of fulfilling their intended purpose of combating burnout, EHRs have been found to inadvertently contribute to it. One study showed that each one-point drop in EHR usability led to 2% increased odds of burnout for the people using them. This is why the choice of solution and provider is a crucial aspect when shopping for an EHR system.

The right EHR has the power to assist in minimising the time devoted to mundane tasks, enabling healthcare providers to prioritise patient treatment and allowing them to concentrate on responsibilities that require human intervention such as gaining patients’ trust.

It is also worth noting that some practitioners use CRM tools in lieu of EHRs with practice management functionality. Providers should recognize that comprehensive EHRs offer a wide range of possibilities that cannot adequately be substituted by CRM systems alone. While CRM systems primarily focus on managing client relationships, Meddbase provides a holistic solution that combines EHR and CRM capabilities in a single, integrated platform, allowing practices to streamline patient care and client relationship management.


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