Clinician Burnout Reduction May Be Tied to Better EHR Optimization
Monday, March 22nd, 2021

Documentation burden is a common problem with modern electronic health record systems. EHRs have been linked to many benefits, from improving care quality and reducing prescription errors to facilitating biomedical research, but documentation burden is contributing to clinician burnout.

While several solutions have been proposed, most are in the prototype phase. In the short term, simplifying and improving flowsheet functionality may be the best means of addressing the issue. That’s the main finding of information published this month in the Journal of Medical Internet Research.

Flowsheets are structured instruments in EHR programs that help to record longitudinal patient information in a format resembling a grid, such as tests, evaluations, and routine treatment. A healthcare professional may type in numerical values such as blood pressure or temperature or select values from given lists in each flowsheet entry.

The comments (if any) are concealed behind an icon inside the flowsheet entry by contrast. Free text comments are voluntary, but some physicians find them helpful and go out of their way to include them. These comments may introduce a documentation burden stemming from limitations in the existing EHR functionality, the data showed. Given that flowsheet comments are made accessible in a manner not always obvious, their content can be leveraged to design more effective strategies for efficiently recording them.

The sophistication of EHR programs, the rise in the volume of data gathered, and the difficulty of prioritizing information spread around many locations in an EHR system all add to the burden of reporting.

The US Department of Health and Human Services has published strategies to minimize the pressure of using health information technology (including EHRs), recognizing the sources of documentation burden are myriad and nuanced, requiring EHR providers, regulatory authorities, insurers, and healthcare organizations themselves to resolve them on various levels. One of the proposed solutions is to streamline Medicare Physician Fee Schedule final rules to ease reporting standards for diagnosis and administration.

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This update is provided by CareOptimize. We provide healthcare management consulting services and products, managed care solutions, value-based expertise, Nextgen EHR utilities, MIPS consulting, and more. CareOptimize has helped numerous healthcare organizations succeed for more than a decade. For more information, please call 855.937.8475.