Healthcare has been testing the limits of the old adage “necessity is the mother of invention.” Treatment methods and the means by which we deliver these treatments are in constant flux as, during the start of the pandemic, we rushed to embrace telehealth and, even now, we expect to see further changes in response to the recent release of the first ever COVID vaccine. And the current healthcare tech trends that have arrived as a result have surely helped enhance patient care in the face of an upheaved healthcare industry. But how have these current health technology trends affected the care providers who use them? 

It’s no secret that burnout in nurses and physicians is at an all time high. And, while modern healthcare tech trends have helped the average patient increase their access to care, we’ve actually seen an increase in issues such as EHR burnout and physician stress as a result of their implementation.

So, what is contributing to this inverse relationship between patient and physician benefit? We can start to break this down by taking a look at the three most readily adopted/updated pieces of healthcare tech. From there, the discussion of how to address these issues with the right medical grade computers and hardware can begin.

EHRs

EHRs have remained a tried example of something intended to improve physician efficiency but, in practice, they have done anything but. Now that remote care and telehealth are the norm, the kinds of notes and documentation that physicians have had to collect for proper reimbursement has increased. And while innovations exist that make preparing for telehealth reimbursement easier, it doesn’t change the fact that the workload is increasing for providers as more current health technology trends seem to improve patient experience with no regard to how it impacts physician workloads. And this is perfectly illustrated in a study that illustrates that 70% of providers who use EHRs report issues with the software.   

Telehealth

Telehealth has consumed every headline in recent memory and for good reason. Remote care has allowed physicians to triage more safely, mitigate the  consumption of highly limited resources, and increase the number of patients capable of being seen. And increase they have. 

A recent review of several millions of medical visits in 2020 reveals a mind-boggling appointment increase of 2000% after the implementation of telehealth solutions. This is great for patients in need of care, but it’s also a shocking increase in appointment density for providers who are already notoriously overworked and stressed during a pandemic. And, unfortunately, a study of over a million of these visits also reveals that current healthcare tech trends revolving around telehealth, helpful as they may be, are responsible for nearly doubling the number of work hours a provider works during a given week. And the bulk of this work that has been optimized for the patient’s convenience takes place on nights and weekends, further blurring the lines between work and time off for care providers and exacerbating their burnout symptoms.

Patient Portals

The increase in the use of patient portals and on-demand messaging between providers and patients is another example of this blurring of time on and off the clock. Through patient portals, patients are capable of directly contacting their care providers at a moment’s notice. This, once again, is fantastic for accessibility of care, but makes it incredibly difficult for providers to “log off” after a day of work. Patients now expect physicians to be on call 24-7 and providers, often quick to do whatever they can to help, find it difficult to disagree.

This also results in a massively cluttered inbox for physicians. When every concern or issue can now be floated into a physician’s face at the press of a button, facilities will quickly begin to see their staff overburdened with inquiries.

Once again, we see patients are given more access to care and feedback, but the current health technology trends that make this possible come at the cost of provider sanity.

What About Current Healthcare Tech Trends Needs to Change?

While it’s unfortunate that we see modern health solutions taking a bite out of provider work-life balance and sanity, it’s not as though we can simply not use these solutions to our advantage, especially when patients now require closer care than ever. Rather than demonizing the current health technology trends that have challenged providers, there needs to be a shift in how these innovations are implemented. 

Streamline Where You Can

Don’t fall into the same pitfalls that most of these innovations have. Invest in hardware and software solutions that help the patient by actually benefiting the physician and their workload.

Fanless medical computers for example, cut down on circulating harmful bacteria. Not only does this benefit the patient by eliminating the possibility of HAIs, they first and foremost benefit the provider staff by allowing them to actually have these computers present during surgeries and operations. By optimizing the providers’ workloads, we also see these benefits reach the patient. 

Another example of solutions that take this philosophy of benefitting the patients by first benefiting the providers are computer on wheels with RFID scanners and vital tracking peripherals built in. Solutions like these make logging information in EHRs notably quicker since repeated logins don’t require manual credential entry. As far as remote care is concerned, portable computers with hardware necessary to automatically record data drawn from patient vital trackers benefits patients by helping physicians gain a deeper, quicker understanding of how treatment is going in real-time.

Set Clear Expectations For Current Healthcare Tech Trends

With physicians now being bombarded with patients who have easier access to their time, it’s important to set clear expectations of when patients can expect answers from their providers. This approach to managing expectations can extend to everything from telehealth and patient portals to appointment setting and more. Communication can help temper their expectations as to when an answer for their questions can be received while also consoling patients that, should an emergency occur, they will be a top priority. Thankfully a lot of this messaging can be seamlessly communicated through a proper digital front door healthcare strategy

It would also help to take a team approach towards managing inboxes that are being bombarded with inquiries. Speak to nurses and assistants who can help providers go through their inboxes and sort inquiries that don’t require their limited and highly valuable time. Taking a team approach at triaging questions like this can equally distribute workload to a wider group of people while also cutting down on burnout for providers who are currently tackling their newly bloated inboxes alone.

We Need to Redefine What We Consider Effective Healthcare Tech Trends

It would do us all well to exercise some patience when it comes to healthcare tech trends and their actual efficacy in the field. Medical innovations that benefitted both the provider and patient equally were already difficult to produce before a global pandemic and shift to remote care. And while we wait for innovators to get closer and closer to better calibrated solutions, we have means of optimizing the current health technology trends we have access to now to cushion the blow to our care staff. For more information on how you can deploy hardware to begin this process, contact an expert from Cybernet’s team today.