White coats, stethoscopes, a clipboard perhaps, and a reassuring bedside manner – all the things we think of when we hear the word ‘physician’. This imagery emphasizes two key elements of a physician’s role: professional competence and personalized care.
As value-based care takes center stage in the healthcare landscape, it’s become clear that physicians need to excel at both aspects to be successful. But unfortunately, patient well-being isn’t the only thing taking up their time.
The last decade or so has seen the volume of administrative work grow at an unimpeded rate. Today, the administrative workload related to clinical documentation and paperwork takes up more of physicians’ time and resources than actually treating patients. Physician burnout from extensive administrative paperwork and back-office activities has become a serious concern for the healthcare industry.
According to the 2018 Medical Economics Physician Report,79 % of doctors said they found the paperwork burden to be their biggest challenge they face. Spending an undue amount of time attending to such administrative tasks is hardly the best use of physicians’ time and resources. It has direct implications on the quality of patient care the physician is able to dispense. More alarmingly, the burden of paperwork increases the chances of physician burnout. This is a country where, by 2030, there will be apotential shortage of 121,300 physicians.
Addressing the Burnout Issue
The good news is that some organizations now recognize that physician burnout is a pressing concern and something they need to act on. The solution to the issue, however, is not clear yet. Here, advanced technology, in particular, the applications of artificial intelligence (AI) and its multiple facets like machine learning (ML) and natural language processing (NLP) may provide some answers.
One particular area that is ripe for an AI-powered upgrade is speech-to-text. In the recent past, physicians would rely on medical transcriptions of recorded medical notes. Any errors in the process would require physicians to edit the transcripts for accuracy, which only added to their workload. With AI-enabled speech recognition platforms integrated into the clinical decision support (CDS) systems, organizations can help doctors improve accuracy with real-time automated transcription.
But AI and its potential applications can do more than speech-to-text automation. By applying NLP tools to augment the medical transcription, healthcare organizations can further reduce the administrative burden on physicians. NLP-enabled transcription and documentation platforms are capable of analyzing unstructured, free-text clinical narratives to extract and document the relevant information in a structured manner. Combined with a strong CDI program, NLP-powered transcription tools can promote an accurate reflection of physicians’ documentation, avoid instances of over- and under-coding, and enhance the organization’s value-based care.
The Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital (CVPH) Conundrum
Like a large majority of hospitals in the US, CVPH was struggling with a shortage of transcription services. Already overworked, the hospitals physicians were forced to devote more time to administrative tasks, at the cost of reduced bandwidth for patient care. This workaround was unsustainable and soon began to affect the quality of care.
The hospital made the decision to partner with Mediscribes. With Mediscribes’ AI-driven medical transcription and coding platform the hospital was able to automate their coding workflow and enhance the parameters that define value-based care. In just one week, the hospital was able to eliminate a 3-week documentation backlog. Three months into the transition, reporting quality had become more accurate, faster, and consistent. Moreover, CVPH witnessed major cost-savings through the elimination of 15.5 full-time equivalent (FTE) transcriptionists. With minimal daily transcription issues, effort is being focused on generating revenue through HIM operations.
As the only born-in-the-cloud fully integrated speech-to-text, Mediscribes has helped hospitals across the US improve their value-based care KPIs. This has reduced the burden and the burnout rate for physicians and helped them re-focus their energies and skills on patient care.
Rising awareness on physician burnout is pushing hospitals to take concrete steps to address the issue. And reducing the administrative burden on physicians can go a long way towards helping them. Armed with the right technology, physicians and institutions can automate the most time-consuming and effort-intensive administrative tasks, and rediscover joy in what they do.