How EHR Training is Improving Physician Job Satisfaction

Posted on December 6, 2018
Tags: Hospital

When going through medical school, most future physicians imagine saving lives, making a difference in the health of countless adults and children, or maybe even discovering the cure for some terrible disease. What they most likely don’t dream about it spending numerous hours – including afterhours or on evening and weekends – putting in extra time to type up patient notes, look up lab results, and completing other administrative tasks in their electronic health record (EHR) system.  

In fact, a recent study of more than 250 physicians nationwide polled on what was causing job burnout, and the top response was EHR work. 21% of respondents said that the time they had to spend in their records system was their top cause of stress, higher even than regulatory compliance, bureaucracy, or work/life balance. They expressed the frustration that the over-abundance of computer time took their attention and time away from interacting with and caring for their patients. 

The survey went on to ask the participating physicians if they had any input for improving the situation with current EHRs and the top suggestions included improving user-friendliness, adding dictionary and scribe features, and overall reducing the time required in the system. In response to these results, some health care systems are creating initiatives to help physicians increase their efficiency while using their EHR systems, hoping to reduce frustration and extra hours spent updating and completing electronic records.  

For example, at UC Davis Health, the Physician Efficiency Program is seeing impressive results, with a 24% improvement in self-rated efficiency with the EHR, a 12% increase in satisfaction, and a reported overall decrease inthe time doctors spend working on records after hours. To make this program a reality, UC Davis hired a team of four EHR trainers as well as two developers, skilled in their specific EHR provider, who could set up or create customized templates and functions to improve usability. 

UC Davis first rolled out its program to its 208 ambulatory clinics, as the clinics had the longest time since their last robust EHR training (the last initiative was back in 2004); with the good initial results, the system plans to complete training across the entire system by 2020. 

During the program, the EHR training team spends three to eight weeks at each clinic, depending on staff size, and each physician spends four hours one-on-one with a trainer. The training is spread throughout a workday, so that the trainer can see the physician’s interaction with the system in various settings and duties, ensuring that all potential concerns arise and are addressed. Through the program, trainers can also facilitate customizing tools for each physician, such as new task-specific templates, while also teaching the physician helpful shortcuts and identifying areas for efficiency improvements. And while the trainers are onsite, they hold weekly feedback and information sharing sessions available to all physicians, which have been successful in helping disseminate information and lessons learned to other staff members.  

Additionally, out of the initiative, the EHR system builders have developed new reporting features, such as charts that display all the relevant data on a specific condition including recommended tests, drugs, and management protocols. These new functions reduce the number of clicks and time it takes to compile an overview, and make it easier to share information with the patient to help him or her better understand the disease or condition. 

By investing training resources and setting aside a few hours of one-on-one interactions, hospital systems are laying the groundwork for longterm improvements, both in how patients are treated, and the job satisfaction of its physicians. Even small improvements can add up to significant time saving over a day, a week, and beyond, giving physicians more bandwidth to focus on their patients rather than their computers.