Burnout: Technology Should Help, Not Hinder

Morgan Watts
Morgan WattsFebruary 1st, 2022

Medscape recently released its 2022 Physician Burnout and Depression Report. The results are in and they don’t paint a bright picture. Emergency Medicine physicians reported the highest increase in burnout year-over-year, jumping from 43% to a staggering 60%. Critical Care physicians came in a close second at 56%. The biggest cause of this burnout across the board? Tasks like charting and paperwork…monotonous, time-consuming efforts. 

The report surveyed 13,000+ physicians across 29 specialties. What is shocking from this report is that, in 2022, charting and paperwork outrank all the other physician stressors, even during a pandemic. Surprisingly, COVID was not a top cause for depression and burnout. It made the list, but did not rank as highly as expected (ranked 10 out of 11). It is undeniable that something must change. 

What can reasonably be inferred here? The systems and software supporting physicians are not cutting it.

Litmus Test for Digital Transformation

Remember when we thought we would have flying cars by 2020? We’ve come a long way but little did we know we needed to lower our expectations for technological advancement – particularly in healthcare. 

I continue to be surprised when clinicians do not readily (and consistently) have tools that make it easier for them to care for patients; to cross all the charting t’s, and to dot all the paperwork i’s. I’m not in patient care and I’m not pretending to know what it’s like to chart during and after a long/stressful/packed/overworked day. But hear me out. I have been on the patient side. If you’re like me, you’ve seen this scene play out too many times to count: 

[Nurse pushes heavy cart in room, with a computer on top]

I’m going to review your medical history.

Okay, sounds good, thanks.

Agh, the computer crashed on me, again.

[Waiting, waiting, waiting for a reboot]

[Physician walks in, without access to complete medical history]

How many times have you heard your care team complain about technology? Or worse yet, how many times have you struggled with the technology available to you?

About 10 years ago (when I was was employed at a large EHR organization) I was on-site at a hospital to supports its effort to roll out a new physician documentation system. One physician threw a stapler the minute he walked into the room and learned the system was live. That is a story for another day… but the experience made me realize it was likely his negative experiences with technology that gave him such a strong reaction. How many systems had he learned previously that slowed down his ability to practice medicine?

All new software for physicians (and patients) should speed up, enhance, and improve experience and the resulting outcome. We know that is not always the case. 

AI-Enabled Tech That Helps, Not Hinders

That is why I’m so excited about what our team is doing here at Vital. We have a brilliant team who creates modern, AI-enabled software. Software that is unbelievably intelligent, easy to use, and works within existing workflows. Software that helps and does not hinder a physician's ability to do his or her job.

The mission to create beautiful and modern software is at the core of why Aaron Patzer and Dr. Schrager founded Vital: they saw how current ED software led to inefficiencies, information silos, and poor patient and clinician experiences. 

The report demonstrates the collective need for the healthcare industry to stand up processes and technology that is efficient and reduces physician stress. Vital is doing that: improving the patient and provider experience with significant positive results realized at health systems across the U.S. 

How many times have you observed healthcare technology to be a hindrance, not a help?

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