This report won’t come as news to the millions of physicians spending huge chunks of their days on clerical and administrative work, instead of the patient work for which they’ve studied and practiced many long years.
But it also presents an enormous opportunity, as the report reveals reducing data entry can be a crucial (and pretty realistic, given modern technology) step in retaining key physicians, as well as increasing operational accuracy and efficiency. Let’s get physicians away from data entry and back to practicing top of license.
What’s behind increased data entry requirements?
Before we look at solutions to reduce the data entry burden on physicians, it’s critical to know where the demand is coming from. Multiple factors contribute to this problem, including:
The ubiquity of EHR systems
The professed goal of EHR systems was to give physicians access to vital patient data and streamline billing and coding processes. All too often, however, doctors find themselves bogged down by data entry instead of caring for their patients. To save time, many physicians copy and paste clinical documentation from one record to the next, providing more opportunity for dangerous inaccuracies to slip into patient files.
Lack of integration
Healthcare providers today use multiple different systems to coordinate care, and more often than not, those systems don’t talk to each other. Building integrations between these systems takes a lot of time and resources, and it is especially taxing on IT teams already working through huge backlogs. In the meantime, who’s responsible for ensuring the right data goes into all the applicable systems? Overtired physicians who’d rather be doing anything else.
Most likely, in one of the few lucid moments you have in your hectic, even chaotic schedule you contemplate healthcare’s greatest problems, its most pressing questions in need of solving, obstacles and the most important hurdles that must be overcome. And how solving these problems might alleviate many of your woes. That’s likely an overstatement. The problems are many, some of the obstacles overwhelming.
There are opportunities, of course. But opportunities often come from problems that must be solved. And, as the saying goes: For everyone you ask, you’re likely to receive a different answer. What must first be addressed? In this series (see part 2 and part 3), we ask. We also examine some of healthcare’s most pressing challenges, according to some of the sector’s most knowledgeable voices.
So, without further delay, the following are some of the problems in need of solutions. Or, in other words, some of healthcare’s greatest opportunities — healthcare’s most pressing questions, problems, hurdles, obstacles, things to overcome? How can they be best addressed?
Nick Knowlton, VP of strategic initiatives, Brightree
Throughout the healthcare ecosystem, patient-centric interoperability has historically been a huge challenge, specifically throughout post-acute care. This problem results in poor outcomes, unnecessary hospital re-admits, patients not getting the treatment they deserve, excessive cost burden and poor clinician satisfaction. This challenge can be solved through creating better standards, adapting existing interoperability approaches to meet the needs of post-acute care, implementing more scalable interoperable technologies, and involvement with national organizations, such as CommonWell Health Alliance and DirectTrust, amongst others.
Cybersecurity is one of the most pressing hurdles in the healthcare industry. The life and death nature of healthcare and the shift to electronic health records (EHR) creates an environment where hackers that successfully deploy ransomware and other cyberattacks can extort large sums of money from healthcare entities and steal highly sensitive data. To address this challenge, healthcare entities need to continue to increase their investment in cybersecurity and focus on improving their overall security posture by implementing tools and processes that will monitor all devices and assess their compliance with security policies; stop phishing attacks; keep all servers patched and current; ensure third party vendors comply with policies; and train employees on proper security hygiene.
Cyberattacks continue to expose the security vulnerabilities of healthcare institutions, keeping many industry stakeholders awake at night. This is why every organization handling protected health information (PHI) needs to build security frameworks and risk sharing into their infrastructure by implementing risk-mitigation strategies, preparedness planning, as well as meet industry standards for adhering to HIPAA requirements. Hospitals and healthcare systems must keep their focus on strategies and tactics that ensure business continuity in the event of an attack as it’s clearly not a matter of if a breach can happen but when.
The core problem for healthcare isn’t science, technology or caregiving intervention. It’s making sure that the systems of delivery and communications are thought through and actually respond to the way patients need and expect healthcare to be delivered. This means it doesn’t matter how advanced and perfected your health system may be — unless it conforms to culture — the way people think and behave — it will do nothing but confuse and frustrate patient needs, which are psychological and social, as well as physical and mental.