Some Comments on Karen Clay’s “For the Record” Piece on Clinician Burnout

Due to clinician burnout, the medical transcription industry is experiencing a resurgence, according to Karen Clay’s piece in the April 2019 edition of “For the Record” (please see link to full article below). Clay found stats that suggest much of this burnout is due to the fact that clinicians are now left to update EMRs themselves. Doctors are fighting to get medical transcriptionists back working for them to relieve some of the clerical burden.

“The medical transcription industry is starting to see an uptick in dictation volumes as healthcare providers begin to realize the woes of generating documentation themselves,” she writes. “Reports have emerged in which physicians express a diminished enthusiasm for their profession, noting that administrative tasks were less about patient relationships and more about coding, billing, reimbursement, and compliance.” (Emphasis ours.)

Clinician burnout isn’t news to many professional medical transcriptionists – or doctors, for that matter. Dr. Zubin Damania (a.k.a. “ZDoggMD”) said doctors understand the EMR fiasco all too well.

The most efficient EMR management includes a hybrid solution with some form of dictation and transcription. As Clay states, “It’s been estimated that one-half of a physician’s workday is spent entering data into EHRs.” Much of that is done with the patient in the room. The result? Clay quotes the 2017 Medscape Annual Survey, which revealed that “51% of physicians had frequent or constant feelings of burnout.”

Cost-Cutting and Technology Failing Clinicians

Clay also mentions cost-cutting (which leads to self-documentation) and other technologies such as speech-to-text are failing physicians and other clinicians. Although there have been improvements, speech-to-text software still isn’t accurate enough. Error rates are around 7%, which means that seven words out of every 100 are incorrect. Not surprisingly, it’s more difficult words such as medical terms that get misspelled the most. “Poor documentation poses significant risk to patient safety and compliance. In addition, reimbursement is likely to be affected,” she states.

Clay calls for the same kind of blended, hybrid model in the medical transcription industry that Elite has been promoting for years. “The reality is that speech recognition technology—alone or as part of integrated EMR systems—is here to stay. However, because speech recognition can be unreliable and requires supervision and intervention, it will not eliminate the need for skilled medical transcriptionists and healthcare documentation specialists.” (Emphasis ours.)

Clinician Burnout is Little Wonder

With so many hours added to the day simply updating their own EMRs, its no wonder clinician burnout is on the rise.The medical transcription industry is changing, but it’s not dead. Physicians and other clinicians who eliminate healthcare documentation specialists altogether end up spending up to half their days self-documenting. That means they see fewer patients, bill fewer hours, and spend more time doing their own clerical work. The result: higher rates of clinician burnout and reduced patient care.

The whole idea of clerical help is to provide support to physicians so they can focus on their patients (and their billable hours). The medical transcription industry can adapt to become more responsive to clinicians’ needs, which is exactly what Elite has been doing.

Find out how our blended EMR models can help your clinic help reduce physician burnout, increase billings, and provide better overall patient care. We even offer a free trial for medical transcription so you can find out for yourself risk-free how we can help.

Read Karen Clay’s piece here: