Provider burnout rates have leveled off, says KLAS report

Combining research on provider burnout, electronic health record experiences and other data, KLAS researchers address what organizations can do to address staff shortages and patient care.

WHY IT MATTERS

Most of the measured contributors to burnout have become less prevalent than they were at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new Provider Burnout and the EHR Experience report from the KLAS Arch Collaborative.

Beyond the news that overall provider burnout rates did not increase with this year’s survey, KLAS researchers found the following factors have improved: 

  • High levels of trust in organizational leadership around the EHR correlated with a lower percentage of providers reporting burnout.
  • Reducing the after-hours workload can decrease burnout significantly.
  • Organizations that implement burnout-prevention programs are seeing results.

However, staffing shortages – a newly-measured factor studied by KLAS researchers – are more frequently reported by all types of clinicians, with 40% of those surveyed citing this contributing factor as a stressor.

The stressor with the most significant drop was too much time spent on bureaucratic tasks – from 48% to 42%.

KLAS researchers note that, generally, the higher the degree of burnout the surveyed clinicians report, the higher the number of stressors they indicate.

Where the data revealed additional strategies to address burnout – such as timely and well-communicated EHR fixes, burnout-prevention programs and strategies to reduce after-hours charting – the researchers cite peer examples.

University of Wisconsin Health reduced time spent after work – after-hours documentation, or “pajama time” – by implementing virtual scribe tools, with 88% of their participating providers reporting they spent less time working after hours. 

“Providers also were less likely to report feeling burned out,” the KLAS researchers found.

They learned that providers who chart six or more hours each week, but trust their leadership, reported lower burnout rates lower than the Collaborative average. Taken together – providers who reported trusting their leadership and less than five hours per week of after-hours charting experienced 19 percentage points lower on the average burnout rate than other providers.

THE LARGER TREND

KLAS researchers also explored EHR satisfaction by provider specialty, finding doctors with high EHR satisfaction are nearly five times more likely to report they’ll stay at their organization, according to a report earlier this year.

It’s no secret that nurses have also exited healthcare at higher rates during and post-COVID-19 pandemic, but technology has sought to help reduce nurse burnout.

Platforms for electronic prior authorization and virtual nursing have released some of the pressure on providers.

“An increase in patient volume and occupancy rates, among other factors, have led to severe emotional and physical exhaustion and, ultimately, job dissatisfaction and burnout,” said Dr. Shayan Vyas, senior vice president and medical director for hospitals and health systems at Teladoc Health.

He told Healthcare IT News how virtual nursing units can manage repetitive tasks remotely and free up nurses providing patient-facing care.

“Health systems that have created virtual nursing programs to augment their bedside nurses have found virtual nursing can extend nurses’ careers and improve job satisfaction for floor nurses by taking away responsibility for many tasks that do not require physical touch,” he said.

ON THE RECORD

“One key to lessening provider burnout is strong provider agreement that their organization delivers well around the EHR – specifically, that the organization has done a great job of implementing, training on, and supporting the EHR,” said KLAS researchers in the report.

“Higher trust in organization leadership/IT in these areas is tied to providers being less likely (by 16 percentage points) to feel burned out. Even among providers who spend more after-hours time in the EHR – who would be expected to have higher rates of burnout – trust in leadership/IT around the EHR is correlated with lower burnout.”

Andrea Fox is senior editor of Healthcare IT News.


Email: afox@himss.org


Healthcare IT News is a HIMSS publication.