Action Wheel Leadership

Physician Burnout 


Addressing Potential
Physician Burnout by Changing to
Electronic Health Records


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Impact of EHR on Physician’s and Patient. - Patricia, General Practitioner

Patricia applied the principles learned in the leadership program to help assess the impact of the change to using Electronic Health Records (EHR).  

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Physician Burnout

At this time, the EHR has been in use long enough to begin to seriously evaluate its consequences.  The cohort’s physician members validated the serious impacts this change is causing, and intend to help champion carrying this message forward to administration. 

The key impacts of the EHR rollout identified so far include:

  • Misalignment of time and skills
  • The average Family Medicine doc now spends 1.5 - 3 hours after patient scheduled-day completing EHR data entry
  • Decreased productivity:  average weekly patient load has dropped from 100 to 80
  • Distraction from physician-patient relationship
  • Less time for personal touch – result calls, return calls, etc.
  • Less time for professional development, education, collegiate investment
  • Less availability and creativity for leadership opportunities
  • Evenings at home consumed with computer work impacting family and community involvement
  • Contributing directly to physician burnout – more data entry, less use of talent

On the surface, this seems like a structure or resource issue – the wrong people spending time on this new, largely administrative task.  At its root lies a misalignment between the practicing physicians and the organization’s mission. Left unchanged, this misalignment will widen and worsen.   Physicians already over-busy are now burdened with additional administrative tasks that do not directly serve the overall mission and are not the most effective use of the physician’s time.  With the productivity loss and impact to revenue already a new reality, and the increased risk and consequences of physician burnout, it may be time to begin consider other options. 

Use of scribes to capture EHR information is one option to carefully consider.  Where scribes are effectively added to a healthcare team, benefits include:

  • Improved direct access to provider
  • Enhanced patient/provider relationship
  • Improved patient satisfaction and loyalty – feel more connected to provider
  • Improved quality and accuracy (test results, Rx refills on time)
  • Increased opportunity for provider to have more touch-points with patients in a variety of ways through the day
  • Decreased physician burnout

The impacts emerging from this issue are real, and painful to those living them every day.  Options and opportunities must be identified and evaluated before the burnout and turnover escalate.

Project Impact: Patricia has been able to take the Action Wheel principles and apply them to a complex issue that has caused her deep frustration. The ability to apply this material in such practical ways has been enlightening and encouraging to her.

Key Healthcare Impacts:

  • Leadership: Evaluated and assessed EHR implementation
  • Administration/Doctors working together to address burn-out of doctors

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