Guest Column | November 5, 2019

Mobile Technologies Play A Key Role In Reducing Physician And Administrative Burdens

By Dr. Robert Murry

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In most ambulatory practices, care is delivered in a tightly-timed environment, with the performance of each team member dependent on a workflow that must move efficiently. With new mandates and evolving technology, the physician’s role is now more complex than ever.

Physician Burnout And The EHR

These increasing demands have a direct impact on physician well-being. For example, according to the Medscape National Physician Burnout, Depression & Suicide Report 2019, the top contributors to physician burnout in order, are “too many bureaucratic tasks,” “spending too many hours at work,” and “increasing computerization of practice (EHRs).”

According to a study by the University of Wisconsin and the American Medical Association, physicians can spend nearly six hours per day in the EHR. Additionally, approximately $4.6 billion is lost each year in costs related to physician turnover and reduction in their clinical hours due to burnout, according to a study published by the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Not uncommonly, more than half of a physician’s workday is devoted to facing a computer rather than engaging with patients. EHR usage not only reduces time with patients; it can be a significant distraction during the visit.

An Answer Available Now

Ironically, there is a solution available in the marketplace that can eliminate frustration with EHRs and alleviate the pressure associated with excessive documentation demands—but many medical practices aren’t aware it is available. Mobile technology integrated with the EHR can streamline and simplify computer work for clinicians.

Providers now can deploy a single, sophisticated mobile solution created to provide different documentation support options, based on their preferences. This enables physicians to dictate the complete patient story, exam, and treatment plan during, or after, the patient visit using a mobile phone or tablet.

From there, depending on each provider’s preferred level of assistance, the required documentation including both clinical narrative and structured data are entered into the EHR, saving countless hours of documentation time, while also staying compliant with goals for structured data input.

The Future Of EHR Is Mobile

Mobile technology enables access to patients’ charts and provider schedules anywhere, anytime. It allows for different charting options:

  • Front-end speech recognition – which relies on automatic voice-to-text technology, where a member of the practice staff may edit the content at a later time
  • Back-end transcription – the voice-to-text transcript is edited by a professional service
  • Remote scribe – this frees clinicians from the documentation burden that weighs down contemporary healthcare, and practices should seriously consider this professional service option

With the remote scribe option, a professionally-trained scribe in a separate location listens to the recording of the mobile dictation and uses it to complete all required documentation and other related tasks directly inside the EHR. Thus, in terms of fulfilling documentation requirements, physicians can complete their work in minutes and pass it along to the remote scribe.

Using a fully HIPAA-compliant process, a scribe logs into the physician’s EHR using secure access from a remote location and performs a careful check to ensure the correct patient and encounter. The scribe then reviews the dictation and performs the necessary documentation, which can be combined with any visit documentation already done by the clinical staff or the patient.

The potential benefits of mobile or remote scribe go beyond improved efficiency, such as:

  • Improved professional environment and reduced stress. With mobile and remote scribes incorporated into workflow, physicians experience a more reasonable workload and pace, an improved work environment, more meaningful patient engagement, and more time for family, friends, or personal interests.
  • More accurate documentation. By combining mobile capabilities with a remote scribe, physicians can produce more thorough and accurate clinical notes; for example, a remote scribe can assist the physician by helping identify the proper codes for diagnoses. The medical record becomes more thorough and accurate. This improved level of accuracy strengthens a practice’s ability to leverage documentation for incentive and quality payment programs and negotiations with payers.
  • Better quality of care. Improved accuracy means providers can look at a patient’s history, previous encounter notes and the assessment plan, and gain clearer recollection from the patient’s previous visit. This helps to improve the quality of care.
  • Less frustration. In medical practice today, even routine tasks are burdened by the number of clicks required to enter information into the EHR, the amount of time it takes, and the spinning dial that appears while waiting for the screen to refresh. Mobile combined with remote scribe eliminates much of that frustration.

Introducing Mobile Technology Into An EHR Platform Can Also Enable Physicians To:

  • Capture images
  • View and share clinical content in an instant, including problems, allergies, medications, lab results, and vital signs
  • View images and documents from the EHR
  • Text securely with colleagues
  • Capture diagnosis codes and charges

I have found in my practice that using mobile solutions removes the bulk of the documentation burden and allows physicians to enjoy improved documentation, spend less time on a computer, and improve care quality in the form of spending more time with the patient. If incorporating an easy-to-use technology like mobile into the EHR can reduce physical stress, save time, improve quality, and significantly decrease the potential for physician burnout, it may be an investment worth consideration for your practice.

About The Author

Dr. Robert Murry is a practicing physician in New York, and the Chief Informatics Officer at NextGen Healthcare, a leading provider of ambulatory-focused technology solution.