By Erin Palm, MD, FACS, VP of Clinical, Suki
The newest generation of physicians desires mobility and convenience, with the ability to see a patient anywhere, anytime, easily replicate workflows and retrieve information. They are increasingly digitally focused, and they expect technology to dramatically transform the way physicians practice medicine—a view shared by 58% of physicians with 30 or more years of experience.
Cloud-based technologies—from digital assistants that automate data entry to cloud-based analytics that predict and diagnosed disease—are key to establishing mobility while providing access to advanced analytics and features that ease decision making and reduce administrative burden. But which investments are the right ones to make, and how can organizations leverage these investments to strengthen physician recruitment and retention?
Recent research points to three ways that cloud-based investments not only can change the practice of medicine, but also elevate the physician experience.
No. 1: Increase efficiency in care. Two years ago, during a discussion around ways that artificial intelligence (AI) could help physicians complete patient charts faster and retrieve test results with a simple voice command, physicians at the American Academy of Family Physician’s annual FMX conference applauded as these new applications were unveiled. It was a sign of the extent to which physicians found the administrative demands of their work overwhelming and their desire to explore advancements that could ease this burden.
Fifty-five percent of physicians and clinicians say they feel burned out when going to work, and studies indicate that clerical burdens—including clinical documentation—are a major contributor to burnout. Cloud-based platforms present strong potential to make care delivery easier by automating EHR data entry. A Deloitte survey points to the percentage of family practice physicians who would find AI-based automation of the following EHR-based tasks “extremely valuable”:
- Ambient voice-to-text translation for recording visit notes: 53%
- Smart devices in the exam room that auto-link and record vital sign readings (e.g., blood pressure, ultrasound) into the EHR: 52%
- Technology-enabled patient intake and triage: 42%
Cloud-based services take automation of these tasks to another level by ensuring these services are available anywhere with an internet connection, providing increased mobility and convenience. Best-in-class tools also leverage machine learning to become better at understanding an individual physician’s dialect and voice patterns over time, strengthening the ability to accurately capture physician voice notations in the moment. With these capabilities, note-taking becomes faster over time. It’s an antidote to “note bloat” that allows physicians to focus on what they love: treating patients.
No. 2: Support more flexible working arrangements. An American Medical Association survey found 92% of millennial physicians believe it’s important to achieve work-life balance, but just 65% felt they had achieved it. Given that 61% of millennial physicians are women, compared with 30%, on average, across other age groups, enabling mothers in medicine to maintain work-life balance as they become parents could be key to physician retention. In fact, 52% of millennial doctors and 53% of physicians who are women say they would take a pay cut to attain work-life balance. What’s especially interesting about this finding: Millennial physicians make less than their older counterparts.
Cloud-based technologies could become a key enabler for changes in care delivery that enhance work-life balance for physicians while strengthening quality and efficiency of care. A Deloitte survey found 41% of physicians believe the move toward cloud computing, predictive analytics, AI, interoperability and enhanced connectivity are among the top three trends that will have the greatest impact on care delivery in the years ahead. Cloud-based technologies that have the potential to extend physicians’ reach while reducing demands on their time that contribute to burnout include centralized monitoring and virtual triage, supplemented by the use of advanced analytics. They also include the use of AI to predict and diagnose disease as well as prevent acute events and remote tools that capture health data while empowering patients to better manage their health.
No. 3: Enhance convenience for physicians and patients. Just as millennial physicians are more digitally focused than their older counterparts, millennial and Gen Z patients expect digital care encounters. In fact, 41% of Gen Zers and 33% of millennials prefer digital encounters over in-person visits, an Accenture survey found. However, 50% of consumers say a bad digital experience will ruin their experience with a provider, the survey found. It’s one reason why investment in the right digital tools is critical in a rapidly evolving environment.
One area where cloud-based technologies can make a difference is by coupling cloud-based analytics with virtual care to more effectively manage chronic conditions from the convenience of the patient’s home. It’s an approach that enhances access to care when and where it is needed while freeing up in-office appointments for more intermediate care. It can also help reduce costs: A McKinsey analysis found that telehealth can decrease costs of care by 2% to 3% for chronically ill populations through improved care management and productivity when telehealth platforms are reinforced by analytics.
A Cloud-Based Approach to Care Transformation
As physician practices examine the types of technology investments needed to keep pace with changing physician and consumer preferences and needs, cloud-based platforms merit consideration as a tool for elevating the physician experience and boosting physician recruitment and retention. Evaluating investments through the lens of care efficiency, flexibility and convenience is an excellent place to start.