Stepping into a new era of healthcare IT – Healthcare IT News

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As healthcare organisations worldwide deal with huge patient backlogs from the COVID crisis, clinicians are at increasing risk of being over-stressed and over-worked.
In addition to reducing job satisfaction, clinician burnout can have a detrimental impact on the quality of patient care.
A recent British Medical Association (BMA) COVID-19 tracker survey found that 40% of doctors suffer from work-related stress, burnout and anxiety.
“One of the major contributors to frustration and feelings of burnout is the amount of administrative time healthcare workers have to spend documenting their work. That’s not the only reason, but that is certainly part of the frustration,” explains Sandeep Wadhwa, global chief medical officer at 3M Health Information Systems (3M HIS).
This problem often occurs when existing clinical documentation systems are not fully adjusted to the workflows that clinicians need, according to Erik Van Hoeymissen, global business development director at 3M HIS.
“It’s really important that the implementation of all new technology happens in a smooth way with enough attention on end-user training and follow-up on how clinicians are doing once the systems are implemented,” Van Hoeymissen adds.
To be sure, technology can be stressful, but it can also be a large part of the solution for taxed clinicians. Technology is evolving for the better with artificial intelligence (AI) and deep learning solutions, which are more advanced than their predecessors.
Clinician-assistive technologies, like speech recognition, are now enhanced by natural language understanding (NLU) and conversational AI to provide clinicians with time-saving tools embedded in their electronic health records (EHRs). By tailoring these tools to their workflows, clinicians can quickly reduce the time otherwise spent on manually creating clinical documentation. These technologies add an entire new layer of capabilities, like computer-assisted physician documentation (CAPD) that proactively provide clinicians the insights they need, when they need it by continuously analysing and monitoring not only the content that is created through speech recognition, but also data that comes to the medical record through other sources.
“Technology has become mature enough to really assist clinicians in a way that it can proactively bring insights forward,” says Van Hoeymissen. “When a doctor is seeing a patient, AI proactively surfaces information from the EHR to the clinician, and interacts with the clinician in a conversational way. You can use your voice to retrieve information from the EHR and trigger actions like placing orders or creating clinical documentation.”
Solutions such as 3M™ M*Modal Fluency Direct can save clinicians time and boost productivity by enabling a greater number of patients to be seen. More importantly, this kind of technology helps deliver a better quality of care as the focus remains on the patient, not the documentation.
“If we’re decreasing the frustration or exhaustion associated with administrative or technology related causes, we also increase morale of the workforce,” says Wadhwa.
In the early phases of implementing EHRs, health organisations focused on creating interoperable records and thorough clinical documentation, which eventually added up to a heavy administrative burden on clinicians. Today, one of the key objectives of 3M HIS is to enable clinicians to take their eyes off the computer screens and devote their attention and conversation to the patient, bringing more human-to-human connection back to the visit.
“This generation of technology solutions in healthcare is designed with a more human-centred user experience at the forefront,” says Wadhwa.
With the patient experience and clinician stress level in mind, it’s not surprising there has been a big shift toward speech recognition and clinical decision support technologies.
The Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (NUTH) in the UK has implemented speech recognition technology and significantly reduced the time taken to send clinical documentation to patients and clinicians. A NUTH clinician commented: “I like creating my own letters, editing them myself, updating the medication list in real time, and sending letters rapidly, without weeks of delay waiting for a secretary to finalise.”
A project manager at NUTH commented that they have much more to achieve and deliver with this solution. However, every small new application and enhancement is aimed to improve clinicians’ time to care both for their patients and themselves, in reducing the pressures of workload.
“That really impacts the quality of life of people over time and is actually a very simple thing to do. Front-end speech recognition is very easy to implement, and it can give immediate benefits to those clinicians who are struggling,” says Wadhwa. “One can speak three times faster than one can type, so bringing speech driven documentation into the patient visit is a powerful idea.”
3M HIS solutions cover the entire documentation cycle from capturing clinical documentation to automating and driving efficiencies in coding and reimbursement departments. 
Today, 3M HIS continues to transform the way clinicians interact with technology, advancing toward an ‘ambient experience’ – comparable to virtual assistants consumers use at home such as Siri and Alexa, but specifically tailored for the medical domain – in which AI would automatically create documentation in the EHR as a by-product of the interaction between patient and the doctor.
“That’s how you incrementally get to that ultimate goal of automating the documentation process step by step,” concludes Van Hoeymissen. “Technology will become clever enough to automate that process fully. It’s still a few years ahead of us, but that’s what we have in mind and where we think the industry is going.”
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