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Bringing the Joy Back to Medicine with PINC AI™ Clinical Decision Support

Key Takeaways:

  • Burnout has long been a problem among healthcare workers, but the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the issue.
  • Clinician burnout not only harms healthcare providers, but it can also have a negative impact on patient care.
  • Technology can contribute to the problem and can also assist with relieving clinician burnout.

For more on this topic:

  • Learn more about how you can tackle clinician burnout with PINC AITM Clinical Decision Support.
  • Hear from Dr. Susan Biali Haas, an expert in burnout prevention, at Premier’s annual Breakthroughs Conference and Exhibition. Visit Breakthroughs 22 for all the details and to register.

After more than two years on the front lines combatting the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare providers are dealing with stress and demanding work environments, which are contributing to burnout and are taking a toll on their mental health.

Throughout the pandemic, clinicians have worked on understaffed units while putting their own health at risk. In fact, PINC AI data shows that clinical staff turnover is reaching record highs in key departments like emergency, intensive care unit (ICU) and nursing. Since the start of the pandemic, the annual rate of turnover across these departments has increased from 18 percent to 30 percent. Many hospital staff are reaching their breaking point as a result of the combined pressures of working longer hours while also being at risk of COVID-19 exposure. This is detrimental to an already vulnerable population where the risk of post-traumatic stress disorder and suicide is high.

Burnout among healthcare workers was a big issue even before the pandemic. However, COVID-19 turned it into a crisis. “Burnout is a combination of three things,” said Dr. Jessie Gold, an assistant professor at the Department of Psychiatry at Washington University. “The first is emotional and physical exhaustion meaning you feel drained at the end of a workday, depersonalization where you start treating patients as objects and last there’s a sense of reduced personal accomplishment where there is a lack of value in work.”

Exploring the Causes of Clinician Burnout

According to a report from the KLAS Research Arch Collaborative, the key factors causing clinician burnout are:

  • Electronic health records (EHRs).
  • Chaotic workplaces.
  • After-hours workloads.
  • Too many bureaucratic tasks.

Oftentimes, there’s a mismatch between expectations of work and actual experience. “When you’re a healthcare worker, you think work is going to be all about caring for patients, but instead, work is actually a lot of paperwork. That disconnect and that difference is a lot of where burnout comes from,” said Gold.

Physicians who spend less than 20 percent of their time on work they find most meaningful (activities such as patient care, research and medical education) are nearly twice as likely to experience burnout symptoms. However, many physicians remain unable to do meaningful work, as increased documentation requirements and the rise of EHRs have caused clinicians to spend more time on administrative tasks. “We get meaning from patient care. We get meaning from mentoring and teaching residents. We don’t get meaning from paperwork,” said Gold.

Before COVID-19, the percentage of all clinicians reporting some degree of burnout was consistently around 25 percent, but now it has climbed to about one-third. With this being said, resignation is at an all-time high and providers are leaving their jobs in droves. The U.S. was short on healthcare workers before COVID-19, but post-pandemic, there is a massive strain across the entire healthcare system leaving clinicians struggling to care for patients. This only adds more fuel to the clinician burnout fire.

Reducing Burnout in Healthcare Workers

Burnout is an occupational hazard in the healthcare industry. Not only does it harm providers, it also has a trickle-down effect that can have a negative impact on patient care. “Those most at risk and affected by burnout are women, people of color, recent graduates and trainees,” said Gold.

Approaches to mitigate, reduce and address burnout should be multi-faceted and include solutions that work to improve workplace conditions. To do this, healthcare leaders are turning to technology to address challenges facing healthcare. Many are looking at new approaches, such as artificial intelligence (AI), to reduce clinician burnout.

PINC AITM Clinical Decision Support (CDS) provides a solution to curb clinician burnout, enhance the provider experience and increase productivity. “We want to bring clinicians tools that are easy and save time, and really allow a focus on patient care and other important initiatives,” said Dr. Amy Robbins, a physician executive at PINC AI. “Let’s design technology with user input because we all know that in order for our providers to take the very best care of patients, we need to make sure they have the very best tools.”

Speed Up Your Prior Authorization Process

For example, even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the prior authorization (PA) process had become the bane of doctors and patients. Clinicians found that health insurers’ authorization requirements, which can delay the use of drugs and treatments by days or weeks, were not only annoying but could be harmful to patients.

“I read a study that shows that the average wait time for PA is one business day and that’s not ideal in cases of serious events,” said Mathaeus Dejori, chief data scientist at PINC AI. “The reason why it takes so long is because providers have to send a lot of data over to the health plan, and then they have to sift through the information before a treatment plan can be approved.”

PINC AI CDS provides a solution using machine learning (ML), and clinician codified and validated PA policies to automate this highly manual process, reducing the wait time from days to less than a minute.

PINC AI’s CDS automated PA solution integrates into a health system’s current her, offering a payer-agnostic solution that streamlines the process with real-time decisions at the point of care. PINC AI CDS:

  • Integrates into current EHR workflow with payer guidelines to approve authorization requests.
  • Streamlines authorization process results in reduced time delay for both patients and providers.
  • Reduces clinically inappropriate and potentially harmful orders.

“AI has made tremendous progress in the last decade,” said Dejori. “Particularly in two areas, one being computer vision and the other is natural language processing. So, machines are very good at understanding images and texts.”

Improving or Eliminating Low-Value Alerts

The effort to reduce clinician burnout doesn’t stop with PA. Many clinicians have reported EHR alert fatigue as a gateway to clinician burnout. Although EHR alerts can offer providers practical suggestions and updates, low-value alerts can disrupt patient care and contribute to clinician burnout.

PINC AI’s CDS solution relies on ML to help health systems pinpoint alerts that aren’t performing the way they should. The analytics platform can then flag the alert for health system leadership to review and remove alerts that aren’t meaningful. It’s important to note that not all alerts are built the same.

“When it comes to alert fatigue, we often think that alerts are not good, but indeed they can be great,” said Robbins. “It’s critical to have clear and concise alerts that help providers make the right decisions at the point of care.”

PINC AI’s CDS alerts are driven by evidence-based, clinician-designed logic, ensuring that an alert will only be triggered if the patient meets a specific profile and only provides recommendations that are relevant to the clinician’s decision.

Final Thoughts

There’s no one-size-fits-all method to reduce clinician burnout; instead, specific solutions for each of the key causes should be implemented. Burnout in the healthcare industry can have far-reaching and serious effects for patients, employees and the healthcare organization as a whole. To combat clinician burnout and restore the joy of medicine, it’s in everyone’s best interest to listen, learn and utilize the right technology.

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