Improved Care Efficiency Requires a More Manageable System

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Technologic tools may be increasing both physician workload burden and information overload.
Technologic tools may be increasing both physician workload burden and information overload.

A growing set of technologic tools designed to improve care quality and value are being used in healthcare; however, the cumulative impact of these tools on clinicians may be an increase in workload burden and information overload.

Warning alerts, electronic documentation, and a growing email inbox are common distractions physicians face on a day-to-day basis. According to the authors of a viewpoint article published in JAMA Internal Medicine, the creation and implementation of a manageable “cockpit” for physicians is crucial for further improving patient care.

In clinical practice, quality of care is often related to systemic factors rather than factors related to the individual physician, placing healthcare providers in situations where they could be erroneously blamed for quality breaches. Clinicians are often responsible for ensuring patient data are entered into electronic health records for auditors, payers, researchers, and policy makers. This adds greater responsibility to the clinician's ever-growing list of clinical duties, subsequently minimizing the time available to communicate and care for patients appropriately.

The authors of this article suggest that a manageable cockpit for physicians in these situations should consist of measures for cognitive workload, time pressures, and administrative and clerical work. In addition, a health system metric for clinician well-being should be established and incorporated into a manageable cockpit, thereby helping to identify and assess the quality of the current system.

Additionally, the authors encourage the use of documentation assistants as well as co-visits with both physicians and nurses to improve clinical practice efficiency. Incorporating badge readers for logging into electronic health record systems is also encouraged to help save time in the practice setting.

An efficient strategy for managing clinicians' workload can be reasonably established, and guaranteeing “a manageable cockpit for clinicians is a shared responsibility among all the organizations and interests in the health care system.”

Reference

Sinsky CA, Privitera MR. Creating a “manageable cockpit” for clinicians: a shared responsibility [published online March 26, 2018]. JAMA Intern Med. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2018.0575

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