What is your definition of physician burnout, and why is it so important?
Clinicians are overworked. We face a documentation burden, a technology burden, and are asked to do more with less. What happens when ransomware takes down your EHR? As clinicians our priority should be addressing patient care, and we just don’t have the time or capacity to address technology issues that makes this more difficult. It becomes very stressful.
On Monday, I saw 32 patients in the clinic and spent time with my family in the evening. Then the next morning, I was fortunate enough to have a good Wi-Fi connection on my flight to Philadelphia so I could review my clinic notes and messages. One of my pathology results was for a woman that showed she has breast cancer. While I spoke with my patient about her diagnosis, I was thinking about how healthcare is not like other industries. You can’t table someone else’s health. It’s constantly on your mind. The pressure, stress, and responsibility of having someone’s health on your mind can be overwhelming.
What are the aspects affecting burnout?
We already know there’s going to be a clinician shortage, and the clinicians who remain will have to work harder. During the pandemic, many clinicians who thought of retiring did so. And sadly, I have one new patient whose previous clinician died from COVID. Clinicians can’t keep up, and the quality of care is affected. All of this leads to retention issues, turnover, and people switching jobs. I saw a statistic saying that over 60 percent of clinicians are feeling burnout, and another survey found that 70 percent of clinicians feel as though their job has changed for the worse.
What are some of the challenges around clinician retention?
It costs up to $1 million to replace a clinician, and there are many elements involved in finding and recruiting a clinician to an organization. Simply, the cost of moving a clinician is tremendous. So every time we face clinician retention issues, health systems have to consider what to do and how it will affect their budget. It’s very challenging.
What are some of the solutions around retention?
When you think about solving the problem of retention, burnout, and turnover, it’s really about the quality of life for the clinician. The reality is that in the healthcare system, you can’t generate revenues without clinicians – the clinician has to be in front of a patient providing some sort of service that can be billed.
Will automation help us to solve the burnout and retention problem?
At Augmedix, we believe in making human connection the center of point-of-care interactions and making the technology behind it invisible.
One of the reasons I first got excited about Augmedix is that the products are seamless. It captures the natural conversation between clinicians and patients. The products then use proprietary ambient artificial intelligence (AI) and structured data models to create medical notes, which are inserted into the EHR. For quality assurance, this process is supported by medical documentation specialists—more than a medical scribe, MDSs are tech-enabled specialists that serve as members of the care team. In addition to real time documentation, we also have an asynchronous version, as well as a product where we do preparatory work to make sure the information is ready for the patient visit. We’re also working on an app with AI that will create a first draft of a note.
Products like Augmedix help alleviate burnout and retention by providing better support for work-life balance and a more reasonable workload. By removing tasks that can be automated like medical documentation, clinicians are better equipped to address the most pressing needs faced by patients.
Where do you see the potential for AI going forward?
AI will show its greatest potential at the prescriptive level. We are approaching the point where technology can make valuable recommendations to clinicians and even create customized treatment plans based on the patient’s history and genomic profile.
As the potential for AI continues to grow, Augmedix is focused on paving the way for the future of precision medicine. By having access to patient data in real time, our vision is to take the next step and use the data from medical documentation and the EHR to drive precision medicine insights.
While precision medicine is still in its early stages, AI will be the driving force to lay the groundwork. The opportunities for AI in medicine are endless.