Orlando, FL — Can the technological beast that has made many physician lives so miserable by drastically increasing the administrative work required to support electronic medical records be tamed and used to help reduce burnout?
That possibility was raised at several sessions here at the annual meeting of the Health Information and Management Systems Society (#HIMSS22).
The issue was first addressed in an Executive Forum held as one of a series of pre-conference symposia where speakers raised the prospect that both better analytics and the expanded use of virtual care could help with workforce retention and also in reducing burnout.
In a panel discussion, Mikki Clancy, chief digital officer at Premier Health in Ohio noted how the hospitals in her network have started using AI to reduce the administrative burden facing nurses, automating more tasks that previously had been done manually and using predictive analytics to help support more flexible working conditions. In the same discussion, Albert Marinez chief analytics officer at Intermountain Healthcare said that many clinicians have become burned out during the current pandemic and want to stop providing direct patient care in a hospital environment. For some of these physicians, he said, the broader opportunities now offered in virtual care offer an alternative which can allow them to still interact with patients in a more flexible environment.
It’s not just hospital-based physicians who are feeling more burdened today as a result of the pandemic and the requirements of maintaining electronic medical records. To quote the American Association of Family Physicians (AAFP): “The family medicine experience is based on a deeply personal physician-patient interaction that requires support from technology. But many technologies used in practice today have eroded the experience rather than enhancing it.”
It was in part to address this that AAFP created its Innovation Laboratory in 2018 to partner with technology companies to rigorously test new technologies such as AI and voice and mobile technologies to eliminate or decrease burnout by reducing the administrative burden on family physicians.
At a HIMSS session, Dr. Steven Waldren, VP and chief medical informatics officer at the AAFP, discussed two successful pilot projects AI Digital Assistants:
- Suki (suki.a) is an AI-powered digital assistant that allows physicians to minimize documentation/charting time.
- Navina (Navina.ai) integrates with the practice’s EHR and automates data aggregation and analysis to create a comprehensive patient portrait for physician review. Dr. Waldren said this tool can not only save time, it also helps ensure that no relevant information is missed.
An AAFP document states both tools “use voice recognition, natural language processing, and artificial intelligence to provide physicians with an AI assistant that continually listens, learns, and adapts to a physician’s documentation patterns and needs. The vision is for the AI assistant to be similar to a medical assistant or nurse who understands a physician’s preferences, anticipates their needs, and completes their charting for them.”
With both of these tools, AAFP first demonstrated proof of concept with a small group of physicians and then tested the tools with groups of more than 100 practising family physicians.
With the documentation reduction tool, physicians who completed the 30 day trial saw a 72% reduction in their median documentation time per note for an estimated time saving of 3.3 hours/week. Participating physicians also expressed satisfaction with the quality of notes prepared as being more meaningful and professional. “We conclude that an AI assistant for Documentation is an
essential innovation for all family physicians who have documentation burden and experience burnout,” the report on the trial stated.
Initial results of the tool used to create patient summaries, found use of the tool reduced by 70% the time taken by a physician to prepare for a patient visit.
Numerous other sessions at HIMSS promoted a variety of technological tools and systems with the promise of helping to reduce burnout These included:
- APIs (Application Programming Interfaces)
- Next-Gen Community Platforms
- AI-optimized staffing schedulers