In healthcare, the right technology implemented the right way can perform miracles towards optimizing patient care. One need just look at remote monitoring tools, medical grade computers, and health tracking wearables for perfect examples of seamless tech integration. 

The right technology implemented the WRONG way, however, can do more than lower efficiencyif left to fester long enough, it can take a pretty nasty bite out of morale as well. 

Physician burnout is a very real, very prevalent threat to many that work in healthcare facilities. A majority might mistakenly believe that overwork is the sole contributor to this burnout, a problem over 40% of all physicians claim they’re dealing with. And while physicians surely do work hard round the clock, the main culprit contributing to their burnout is their poorly operating EHRs.

A recent study conducted by the Mayo Clinic surveyed 30,456 physicians, asking them to grade from 0-100 the effectiveness and usability of their EHR software. The average grade among those surveyed was a shockingly low 45.9%, concluding that there is a strong connection between symptoms of burnout and the under-performance of EHR software.

But how does software designed to streamline patient care contribute so heavily to the number of overworked physicians? 

EHR Physician Burnout

Electrical medical records were originally implemented to make the note taking process more efficient. Unfortunately, EHRs ask physicians to input heaps and heaps of data for the purposes of record keeping and billing. They do so to such an extent that a vast majority of caregivers feel impacted in their ability to actually communicate with their patients. 

For many experiencing EHR burnout, eye contact with patients becomes less commonplace as their note taking software demands more and more of their attention. Understandably, this can be immensely demoralizing for someone who assumed this profession to help and to heal. 

Of course, this isn’t an issue physicians and engineers are taking lying down. 

A Light in the Tunnel

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine have been testing an EHR add-on that allows physicians to personalize how information is grouped and categorized on screen. MedWise, as the add-on is being called, would give physicians the ability to organize information in their hospital’s system into curated “tiles” that could be color coded to their personal preference. The ultimate goal of this add-on would be giving physicians an easier means of navigating the unkempt jungle of windows and information they traverse daily just to care for their patients. 

And while the add-on isn’t available yet due to it still being Beta tested, Yalini Senathirajah’s innovation opens the floor for some interesting discussion.

In what other ways can healthcare professionals personalize their workspaces in order to bypass EHR fatigue?

RFID Log Ins

A lot of the discussion surrounding physician burnout with EHRs centers around the idea of cutting down on clicks, and for good reason. Every time a physician meets with a patient, every time they need to order a prescription, every time they need to add to their notes, they’re tasked with logging into their EHR system. Multiply that number of clicks for every physician in a practice and the amount of time lost on a typical workday becomes a little more daunting. 

Needless to say, addressing the problem of “death by a thousand logins” should be a pressing concern for those looking to combat physician burnout. Fortunately, customizing your facility’s medical computers with personalized authentication hardware can take a battle axe to the number of clicks needed to log in. 

With an RFID scanner, for example, physicians can replace the assault of clicks and keystrokes needed to log in with a simple swipe of an ID card. A small change that truly adds up when considering how many hundreds of times a physician logs into their EHR software daily.

If this is the personalization route you decide to take, it would be wise to find authentication hardware that is Imprivata SSO certified. Your patients’ information is sacred and any changes to your hardware should be made with its protection in mind.   

Open up Some Monitor Real Estate

Until MedWise hits healthcare facilities, we’re forced to organize windows and information however we can. And while it might not be the most one-to-one substitute to color coded windows, increasing the screen real estate a physician has for the windows they need can be quite helpful.

With more monitor to play with, physicians and nurses can have several of their preferred windows open at a timecustomizing their digital space to fit their individual work flow. Not only does this cut down on clicks, it prevents information overload that can easily occur when dozens of pages and charts filled with information bombard a physician 9 hours into their work day. 

If simply investing in a bigger monitor sounds like too easy a fix, it is! That’s the beauty of it! Atrius Health took to this route of installing widescreen monitors throughout their system and saw their number of clicks plummet by 50 million annually. 

Implement Voice Recognition

One of the hardest parts about physician burnout is the fact that caretakers often feel forced to spend most of their patients’ visits staring at a screen. Caretakers like to elaborate on symptoms and treatment methods, opting not to omit any details so that better care can be administered. Unfortunately, when your choices of recording these in-depth notes are either staring at a screen in front of your patient or jotting down quick notes that you’ll then have a hard time translating on your EHR later that day, it’s hard to get particularly motivated. 

While this solution might not meld well with every physician’s workflow, voice recognition tools can help doctors elaborate at length without having to navigate the EHR’s system or manually type. Better yet, caretakers can couple voice recognition notes with a computer-assisted physician documentation solution such as Dragon Medical Advisor. 

Tools like DMA analyze physician notes in real time and suggest edits that can help ensure clinical records are complete and compliant. This means instead of recording a novel’s worth of notes in front of the patient, a doctor or nurse can take quick notes during the appointment and then elaborate to their heart’s content vocally afterwards in conjunction with DMA for a more comprehensive patient record. 

Not convinced? Nebraska Medicine implemented this strategy and saw 23% reductions in transcription costs. 71% of their users even went on to say that the quality of their documentation improved significantly while 50% said the system saved them more than 30 minutes a day.  


Physician burnout is not strictly tied to one factor. The unfortunate truth is that poorly managed EHR software is but one of many variables that contribute to caregivers feeling tired, depressed, and dissociated. And while one be all end all solution isn’t out there, the least we can do is help and treat the causes we CAN treat. The more conscious we are of the issues healthcare providers face, the better we can be equipped to tackle them and provide some care for the professionals that sacrifice so much to care for us

If you would like to learn more about how personalization of your medical computers can help turn the tides on physician burnout, contact a Cybernet expert today.