If you are a physician and you’ve been experiencing depersonalization, emotional exhaustion, a feeling of decreased personal achievement and a lack of empathy for patients, then you are suffering from burnout. Unfortunately, you’re not alone. A recent report about clinician burnout from the National Academy of Medicine suggests that over 50% of physicians in the United States have symptoms of burnout. Between 45% to 60% of medical students and residents experience the same struggle. Furthermore, physician rates of depression or suicidal ideation are as high as 40%.
In addition to the physical toll it takes on individuals, burnout also takes a financial toll on our healthcare system. It Is estimated that physician burnout costs the U.S. healthcare industry $4.6 billion per year or roughly $7,600 per physician per year.
Reasons For Physician Burnout
One of the most commonly cited reasons for physician burnout is work overload. In addition to increased patient caseload, physicians also have to juggle quality and cost performance measures, unplanned distractions and a never-ending list of administrative procedures. The stress of getting everything done during the day, while also providing quality care at the lowest cost possible, is enough to make the most resilient of physicians want to hang up their stethoscope.
Fortunately, there are some great tools available to physicians that will help them chip away at their ever-increasing workloads. Below are a few of the tools that are worth exploring.
A Simpler Way To Interact With Pharmaceutical Reps
The first new tool worth incorporating into a physician’s professional life is Swittons, a smart device that is completely free for physicians. Swittons is an Internet of Things (IoT) powered device that enables physicians to better manage when and how they interact with pharma reps, eliminating cold calls completely. At the click of a button, physicians can request samples, schedule sales visits, book medical science liaison (MSL) consultations, and access important medical information.
The 4-inch device takes up very little desk space and integrates seamlessly with physician workstyles. The smart device can be preprogrammed with individualized functionality and comes out of the box ready. It automatically connects to the pharma rep through a Wi-Fi or GSM cellular connection. GSM service is provided by Swittons, so physicians can avoid cost and network compliance issues.
A Digital Assistant To Update Medical Records
A second tool that is showing great promise is Suki. Suki is an Artificial Intelligence (AI) powered digital assistant for doctors. It leverages voice capabilities to alleviate the administrative burden that is placed on physicians by the electronic healthcare record (EHR). For every minute doctors spend with a patient, they spend two more minutes entering data into the EHR.
Suki developed its virtual assistant as a way for medical professionals to transcribe notes and patient conversations. Those transcriptions are then automatically added to medical records, with the AI filling in relevant details and offering potential analyses. The overall goal of Suki is to replace the slow and tedious manual process of handwritten notes and keyboard entry into electronic health records (EHR), giving doctors more time to care for patients.
Using AI To Improve Workflow
Another great tool to assist physicians in their battle against burnout is Nuance Dragon Ambient eXperience (DAX). Nuance DAX is leading the charge in a field known as Ambient Clinical Intelligence (ACI). ACI uses ambient sensing technology to securely listen to clinician-patient conversations while offering workflow and knowledge automation to complement the EHR.
Exceeding the capabilities of a virtual or on-site scribe, the Nuance DAX promotes a better patient experience by accurately capturing, and appropriately contextualizing, every word of the patient encounter. It automatically documents patient care without physicians taking attention off their patients.
ACI builds on the familiar speech recognition technology that doctors have used for some time by including voice biometrics, which authenticates clinical users. It also integrates conversational AI, machine learning, speech synthesis, natural language understanding, and cloud computing to provide diagnostic guidance and clinical intelligence.
In short, the system responds in real-time when the doctor asks to view patient histories or test results, prescribes medications, orders tests, and schedules follow-up appointments. Once the patient visit is over, the system creates a summary for the patient, updates the patient’s record, and enters appropriate billing codes for the physician to review, edit, and submit in the electronic health record (EHR).
The Intersection Of Medicine & Tech
From Swittons to Suki to Nuance DAX, the technologies available to physicians to help manage workload and combat burnout are as inventive as the field of medicine itself. As we look to the future, it isn’t too hard to imagine a day when physicians might have all these technologies in a single access point – the robot physician assistants. Diligent Robotics offers a glimpse of what that future might look like with its hospital robot assistant Moxi.
Regardless of the technologies a physician chooses to use to help manage the balance in the workplace, it is critical that they take steps to care for themselves. Physicians are the backbone of our healthcare system, and without them, we all suffer.