3 strategies for reducing clinician burnout with EHR optimization

Clinician burnout is a serious issue with significant financial consequences. Discover lists three practical strategies to lessen early-stage burnout by enhancing electronic health record (EHR) experience.

In recent years, burnout rates have significantly increased among clinicians, with physicians and nurses being most affected. In 2019, between 35 and 54% of U.S. nurses reported symptoms of burnout, and in 2021, more than three out of five physicians reported at least one burnout symptom.

The pandemic is often cited as the reason for this, and it's certainly a contributor. A study of U.S. data collected only up to November 2020 reported the resulting incidence of post-traumatic stress disorder to be at 49%. But clinical burnout also stems from problems that existed long before the pandemic – the healthcare needs of an aging population, funding limitations, demanding workdays, and so many healthcare workers aging out of their jobs, all contribute.

3 ways to prevent clinician burnout

Burnout can have significant financial consequences for organizations. KLAS research estimates that each burned-out physician equates to an $80,000 decrease in revenue. Furthermore, the study reveals that burnout severity directly influences how likely clinicians are to leave an organization within the next two years. You can see how quickly things could get out of hand.

The fact is, preventing burnout in the early stages is far more effective than attempting to reduce it once clinicians are already suffering. So how can organizations accomplish that?

Well, a study involving 20,200 physicians and 32,782 nurses found that enhancing electronic health record (EHR) efficiency can help alleviate early-stage burnout. And luckily, this is an achievable goal.

Here are three ways your organization can reduce clinician burnout by boosting EHR optimization.

1. Provide day-one access to EHR modules and capabilities

Efficiently granting application access is crucial for new hires to succeed. However, managing access rights across multiple systems can be challenging, leading to delays of days or weeks. Even after a user is granted access, that access may not precisely align with their needs. And the resulting delays can impede clinicians from fully utilizing the EHR, reducing user satisfaction and creating barriers to patient care.

Furthermore, access needs are ever-changing. User workflows may change over time due to attrition, role changes, or promotions. Users with inappropriate permissions constitute a severe security risk – one that often persists after an employee leaves an organization. Research found that 89% of employees could still access sensitive corporate applications well after their departure.

2. Streamline access to applications and the EHR

Every time a clinician engages with a patient, they first need to log in by entering their username and a complex password. Clinicians can spend up to 45 minutes logging in up to 70 times a day, creating password fatigue and frustration. This also disrupts clinicians’ focus on the task at hand, adding to mental strain and contributing to burnout. That’s why it’s so critical to automate access management workflows.

In addition, EHR systems are constantly evolving to introduce valuable new features and workflows. Security needs can hinder adopting such features. Many workflows — such as medication administration and break the glass — require repetitive authentication with usernames and passwords. As a result, security barriers reduce the value these workflows could otherwise offer.

Some EHR capabilities, such as EPCS (electronic prescribing of controlled substances), require even stronger authentication methods. This can create additional inefficiencies and increase frustration. By expediting access with badge-tap SSO, CHRISTUS Health reduced clinical authentication time by 70%, saving approximately $3.2 million in annual revenue.

3. Support patient care at the bedside with seamless mobile workflows

Healthcare organizations are adopting mobile technology to improve workflows and deliver real-time access to tools and information from any location at any time. However, mobile environments can also create barriers to use that hinder organizations from optimizing their investments.

According to a recent survey, clinicians use around six different applications on a shared mobile device per shift, accessing each approximately 25 times. Having to repeatedly input usernames and passwords to unlock mobile devices and access applications naturally contributes to burnout. Furthermore, to ensure the flexibility of strong authentication workflows like EPCS, workflows should be supported on mobile devices as well. Yale New Haven Health System recently enhanced clinician experience by implementing seamless badge-tap access to 6,000 shared smartphones. This move also optimized mobile productivity and ROI.

Transform the clinical experience

Vendors will continue to introduce new capabilities and modules that benefit clinicians and patient care — if they can be easily accessed. Otherwise, innovations become just another factor contributing to burnout. Organizations must invest in optimizing their EHR to prevent clinician burnout in its early stages, when it has the most impact.

Our eBook, Maximizing the value of your EHR, demonstrates how digital identity solutions can deliver a seamless user experience that boosts EHR adoption and clinician satisfaction — without compromising security.