Does telehealth alleviate or exacerbate clinician burnout? Both, according to a recent mHealth Intelligence article. Telehealth helps clinicians by providing flexibility in their workflows and ultimately broadening their ability to deliver care. But, certain aspects of telehealth can instead add to the burnout many of today’s clinicians are feeling—with one study citing that clinicians who use telehealth are more likely to have to complete work in their EHR after normal business hours.
Not to mention, the fast implementation and deployment of telehealth platforms during the pandemic has led to fragmented workflows, resulting in virtual care causing more harm than good in many cases.
With that said, what can and should be done to ensure the proper use of telehealth solutions designed to improve provider experiences and integrate directly into existing workflows? Is there a way for health system executives to truly alleviate providers of overwhelm, while reaping the benefits of technology like asynchronous telehealth?
Are EHR integrations the crux of the issue?
Recent research published in JAMA Internal Medicine showed just how long U.S. physicians spend inputting information into an EHR: on average, 1.84 hours a day completing documentation outside of work hours.
Virtual care availability and digital health options have led to increased engagement for some patients—yet, there often hasn’t been an increase in support teams to handle the influx of patients requesting care from these types of modalities. In turn, the increase in portal messages, emails, or other types of incoming communication from patients means an increase in EHR work, which leaves many clinicians working after hours to pick up the slack.
And additional time for administrative work isn’t the only hiccup created as a result of telehealth; today’s EHRs are commonly known to be rife with usability and integration issues, which only exacerbate clinicians’ feelings of burnout.
The clinical workflow catch-up
The quick implementation of telehealth platforms has also led to confusion and fragmentation in certain clinical environments. Often, virtual care and telehealth hasn’t been integrated efficiently into a system’s overarching workflows—a result of many health systems viewing the telehealth experience as simply a replica of an in-person visit. In turn, messy workflows and the incorrect routing of information only adds to the work and burden of not just clinicians, but also their patients and other caregivers.
How asynchronous telehealth combats clinician burnout
According to mHealth Intelligence, there’s a larger need to shift providers’ perceptions of telehealth, while also ensuring the technology chosen integrates into existing workflows and alleviates administrative work, instead of adding to it.
“This speaks to a larger, needed shift in providers’ perceptions of telehealth,” the article states. “Telehealth strategy does not mean only enabling video conferencing but also incorporating a wide array of remote care capabilities, including asynchronous telehealth. And measuring clinician experience while implementing those services is crucial.”
It’s true—when done well, asynchronous telehealth can ultimately make every clinical interaction more valuable for both providers and patients. Here are five key ways asynchronous telehealth gets to the root of the problems providers face with today’s digital health tools:
- Integrates directly into EHRs: Asynchronous telehealth has the ability to integrate into an EHR and reduce the time it takes not only for patients to find and receive care, but also clinicians’ time giving care and documenting the encounter. Bright.md, for instance, connects bidirectionally with the EHR of choice—including Cerner, Epic, and athenahealth—using standard HL7 protocol like FHIR APIs to sync and exchange information.We’re constantly working to deepen integrations that create efficiency and are continuously investing in strategic partnerships with other digital health products to enable easier hand-offs and less friction in hybrid care delivery.
- Automates key elements of existing workflows that are repetitive and don’t require a medical degree. Parts of care delivery are ripe for automation, which, in turn, can allow providers to better focus their time on patients who need them most. With Bright.md, automation occurs through the handling of patient intake; collecting and verifying medical history, allergies and current medications; ordering prescription refills or labs; managing chronic care or post-surgery check-ins.
- Escalates patients who require higher levels of care automatically out of virtual care options that aren’t right for them. An asynchronous telehealth platform like Bright.md doesn’t just include a digital front door to help navigate patients—our solution also escalates patients to the appropriate care venue within your health system should asynchronous care not be appropriate.
- Directs patients to the right venue of care, the first time. By identifying the appropriate next step through our digital front door solution Navigate, Bright.md ensures patients get to the right venue of care the first time around, while also enabling downstream revenue as a result of escalations to video or in-person visits.
- Supports clinician autonomy with effective clinical decision support: Clinical decision support is particularly crucial for today’s virtual care platforms for telehealth to truly be beneficial to the clinician experience. Bright.md, for instance, includes clinical decision support that betters the care experience for patients and providers—giving clinicians, specifically, support and relief from unnecessary administrative tasks. By automating charting and integrating into existing workflows—including EHRs, prescription fulfillment tools, and billing—we’re able to give doctors back their time, helping to alleviate feelings of stress and overwhelm, while maintaining clinical autonomy in diagnosis and treatment.
Unlike other telehealth platforms, Bright.md includes clinical decision support and content for all conditions we help treat, which make up more than 50 percent of all primary and urgent care visits. With more than 130 diagnoses, our content is evidence-based and updated regularly based on the latest clinical guidelines. And because we have been building and refining our clinical content for more than eight years, our clinical content engine can’t be replicated.
Asynchronous telehealth’s final verdict
Telehealth has the ability to truly change the way patients receive care, and how clinicians deliver it. But as the industry continues to grapple with the growing pains of implementing the technology and creating appropriate workflows, it’s both clinicians and patients who end up paying the price. Layered on top of growing direct-to-consumer competition and declining revenue, today’s health systems can’t afford to implement technology that causes more harm than good.
At Bright.md, we’re constantly evaluating and updating our solution to better meet the needs of today’s patients and clinicians in this challenging environment. And as a result, our health system partners have reaped the benefits of more streamlined workflows, EHR integrations, and a competitive edge after implementing our solution.
Read more about how one Bright.md health system drove patient attraction, retention, and clinician well-being with Bright.md.
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