Easing the Documentation Burden with Smart Technology

Updated on January 5, 2024
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The lifeblood of a clinic is its clinicians’ time. Each moment of their time is not only financially valuable but also crucial from a patient-centric perspective, yet clinicians are being confronted with a growing time burden — documentation. 

According to James Kahn, MD, MPH, physicians invest a staggering 4.5 hours daily in the completion of electronic medical records (EMRs). This not only takes time away from direct patient care but also fuels burnout, an issue that has infiltrated every aspect of healthcare. With EMRs now a staple for 90% of office-based physicians in the United States, this documentation burden transcends individual practitioners, becoming a systemic challenge that compromises the overall quality of healthcare delivery and, ultimately, patient outcomes.

A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine reveals a stark reality — physicians spend an average of 16 minutes and 14 seconds utilizing EMRs for each patient visit, with a quarter of this time dedicated solely to documentation. This time spent on documentation compounds over days, weeks and months, leaving many clinicians rightfully doubtful if it is a good use of their time.

In response to this growing challenge, smart technology emerges as vital clinician support. When integrated into provider workflows, it reduces the need for information to be duplicated and automates pieces of the documentation process. 

Smart healthcare technology does not aim to replace documentation, instead, it attempts to drive efficiency. Artificial intelligence (AI) enabled platforms are increasingly able to deliver insights for providers, discharge planners and care navigators that are predictive versus reactive. In addition to clinical data, these technologies are able to identify social determinants, health care disparities, claims history, and couple with risk stratification to streamline clinical decision making and transitions of care while reducing the administrative burden placed on providers.   

Beyond the intrinsic value of time, smart technology takes on another critical role — addressing regulatory and payer requirements. Laborious, duplicative and inconsistent rules are placing increased demand on providers to not only deliver care, but also to create comprehensive documentation justifying medical necessity. Technology, when properly developed and deployed, streamlines this process by automating data extraction and documentation of reimbursement requirements. 

The link between clinicians’ patient engagement and clinic reimbursement is substantial in today’s pay-per-service model. However, heightened administrative burdens have created an inverse relationship, affecting profit margins. Addressing time constraints on clinicians is crucial not only for optimizing reach and improving reimbursement but also for fostering the ability to deliver better care and allocate more time to patients, ultimately enhancing the overall efficiency of the clinic.

The substantial demands on healthcare providers are undeniable. Yet, the promise of technology to alleviate this burden is more than mere speculation. It continues to be proven today across many different clinical settings. 

By embracing technology, healthcare becomes more data-driven and efficient, enabling clinicians to spend more time where it matters most. This shift not only benefits providers from a financial perspective but also contributes to an improved and more efficient healthcare system for everyone involved, including providers, patients and payers alike.

Patrick Tarnowski is chief commercial officer at OneStep
Patrick Tarnowski
Chief Commercial Officer at OneStep

Patrick Tarnowski is chief commercial officer at OneStep.