Study Finds EHR Messaging Overload Contributes to Physician Burnout

Physician burnout is a pervasive issue spreading through specialities across the healthcare industry. Based on a recent study conducted at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation (PAMF), physicians reported that receiving an overwhelming amount of EHR messages in a given week was one of the top reasons behind physician burnout.

Digital communications are essential in today’s healthcare landscape. But learning how to limit an excessive and often burdensome volume of unnecessary EHR messages and notifications is possible. Changing workflows or internal communication tools can minimize physician burnout and give staff members valuable hours back in their day.

Physician Burnout: Surprising Results

Physicians surveyed reported receiving an average of 243 EHR messages each week. About half of those were automatically generated by EHR platforms.

The survey uncovered that 36% of PAMF doctors self-reported experiencing physician burnout. Additionally, 42% of physicians surveyed reported receiving a high rate of EHR messages. Those doctors and providers who received a high rate of EHR messages reported physician burnout at a rate 40% higher than their peers.

The findings of the study strongly suggest that an overwhelming number of EHR messages can contribute to physician burnout. The study also revealed that 29% of physicians surveyed said that they wanted to reduce their clinical hours — and those physicians who reported receiving a higher rate of EHR messages were 38% more likely to desire a decrease in clinical hours.

Why EHR Messaging Just Doesn’t Work

EHR communication platforms and direct messages so often fail because of the sheer volume of messages received over poorly designed communication channels. Physicians are required to dig through their inboxes to find direct messages received from patients. Without a solution to help manage and streamline patient communications, time-sensitive questions and concerns may be ignored or lost.

Sometimes, these automated messages and even patient messages are directed to the physician, when they would be better suited to members of the clinical or administrative staff. However, many EHRs lack robust messaging and communication technologies, making it difficult to send or transfer messages to their proper recipients. This complexity can contribute to frustrations that impede care, take away valuable hours of work time, and add to growing rates of physician burnout.

Other communication media such as email and non-secure texting can create additional burdens for the practice by way of HIPAA compliance and cybersecurity concerns.

So when it comes to finding an effective secure communication solution for healthcare settings, practices should look to prioritize efficiency. Time spent monitoring and responding to internal messages should not overshadow time that could be spent delivering quality care to patients.

A Smarter Way to Manage Communication Overload

Secure communication apps go hand-in-hand with EHRs to streamline communications, make workflows more efficient, and eliminate hours spent pouring through cluttered inboxes.

One example of such a tool is Klara, a secure messaging app that allows physicians, clinicians, and administrative staff to streamline patient communications into one seamless platform. Klara helps eliminate clogged inboxes and unread messages by allowing teammates to selectively assign conversations and associated tasks to the individuals responsible for responding. And with the ability to define teams within the practice, the right group of employees can all be looped into a single communication, taking the burden of responding off of one person alone.

Klara allows practices to specify their working hours and automatically respond to patients who send messages outside of those hours. Additionally, notifications can be muted to allow physicians and team members time to disconnect and de-stress after hours.

By creating smarter, more effective workflows, healthcare professionals can save valuable hours in their day and eliminate physician burnout, all while delivering quality care to patients.

Find out more about how Klara can improve your communication workflows — sign up for a free consultation today!