Physician Burnout - EMR Shaming has to STOP

Posted by Dike Drummond MD

physician-burnout-EMR-shamingPhysician Burnout - EMR Shaming Has to STOP

Every time I survey a group of physicians asking, "What are the top three stressors in your practice day?" ... EMR and other documentation issues ALWAYS make the list. This is true regardless of specialty without exception. 

EMR is a slave to Big Data, designed by people who have never seen a patient and it is a huge cause of physician burnout in a significant number of doctors.

AND we can do a MUCH better job of helping our physicians clear the EMR hurdle in their day if we STOP SHAMING the people who struggle the most.

Here is a common practice scenario for a burned out physician who comes to us for coaching.

  • You save your charting until the end of the day
  • Do a couple hours at the computer after the last patient is gone
  • Go home, feed the kids and put them to bed
  • Log on from home and do a couple more hours of charting before you go to bed
  • Still can't seem to whittle your chart backlog down below 25 or so

Here's the tragedy ... and the missed opportunity

This same doctor who is struggling with these new documentation requirements is now SHAMED by their organization. The usual grumble goes, "What is wrong with you? Why can't you get this done?  You need to clear your chart backlog or there will be consequences."

Stop the Shaming - Give them SUPPORT instead


Find the Struggling Doctors

We can find the struggling doctors easily. Ask IT to probe the EMR system to see which doctors are logging in to chart from home more than twice a week.

Then Give Them the Support They Deserve

You can use resources that are just lying around in your organization. Here's what I have seen in every organization I have ever worked with.

For every doctor who is struggling with their EMR chores, there is a hidden Power User - right there in the same department.

Now it is not safe in many organizations for people to know you like the EMR and think it is an improvement over the old way. Power Users tend to keep their head down.

AND there are providers right there in the same department who get home only moments after the last patient leaves, with all their charts done and never complain about the EMR. That is the definition of a Power User. The nurses know who these people are, just ask them.

Power Users as TrainersTap your native Power Users as Trainers

You can tap the Power Users to teach the doctors who struggle with EMR how to do a better job. Remember, the Power Users are physicians seeing the same patients and using the same EMR as the strugglers. They hold the keys to all the physicians implementing EMR optimally and everyone getting home on time.

Here's what EMR Support looks like

  • Find your Power Users and recruit them as trainers for their practice colleagues (BTW, Power Users are always happy to help)
  • Have the IT Department run a probe on the EMR system to find any physician who logs into the system from home more than twice a week
  • Reach out to this group of EMR Strugglers and SUPPORT them 
  • Invite them to training sessions lead by your Power Users
  • Build and share templates and charting techniques the Power Users already use to get home on time
  • Promote these trainings as "Get Home Sooner" Workshops since this is the major benefit of participation
  • Let your physicians know you are here to HELP NOT SHAME them and then live up to that promise. Do not let anyone continue to struggle through hours of charting at home, late at night while everyone else is asleep
  • If this program does not improve their performance adequately, get them a scribe - Just Do It - or you will lose this good doctor in time

Move from Shaming to Support

Use your own Power Users

Don't let your EMR fry your doctors to a crisp


What is your Power Tip for getting your charting done?


Tags: Physician Burnout, EMR