Leveraging AI to relieve doctor stress in tough times

During the night shift, a critical care physician treats an embolized pulmonary patient. Several days later, he was asked why it was not mentioned in the chart that the patient also had acute respiratory failure. His response: “I was busy saving a patient’s life at 3 AM – taking care of all the things that needed to be done like intubating oxygen and positive pressure ventilation. While I was aware of the patient’s breathing problems, I wasn’t really concerned about missing out on a diagnosis like hypoxia in my clinical notes.”

With such scenarios considered typical, it’s no surprise that more than 40% of American physicians are exhausted — and those bureaucratic tasks top the list of factors contributing to this ongoing stress, according to a Medscape report.[1] In addition to taking an emotional toll, burnout takes a toll on finances, with each case of burnout costing healthcare organizations (HCOs) between $500,000 and $1 million, according to the American Medical Association.[2]

“Stress has become a serious problem for clinicians in recent years,” said Robert Bodman, MD, chief operating officer of Nuance Communications. “First, clinicians have to navigate how to get their clinical work done in a busy day. On top of that, there are administrative burdens placed on them by government, insurance plans, and employers. And then, there is simply the affinity they feel as their workloads worsen due to COVID- 19″.

Get down to the root causes

HCOs can no longer turn the problem on deaf ears. “Having a way to deal with stress and promote wellness is the responsibility of every organization,” he noted. While HCOs can help workers in the short term by hosting massages and socializing ice cream, they can address the root causes of stress in the long term by focusing on processes and workflows.

With some artificial intelligence [AI] Technologies, HCOs can relieve worker stress by anticipating the needs of nursing or ED staff or anticipating household turnover. These AI technologies are helping to run the healthcare business,” Bodman said.

HCOs can also use AI to help address clinical documentation frustrations. Physicians often fail to note all secondary diagnoses, chronic conditions, and comorbidities while treating patients, simply because the time required for comprehensive documentation at the point of care is enormous.

However, a missed diagnosis can reduce repayment — or start a stressful chain of events. For example, when a diagnosis is lost, clinicians are often questioned after several days or weeks and then forced to go back to the electronic medical record and review what happened in a particular case to update the clinical documentation.

CAPD provides great support

CAPD workflow-integrated computer-assisted physician documentation (CAPD) system enables clinicians to focus on patient care by providing unobtrusive guidance on what information to include to ensure the integrity of clinical documentation.

“With this AI technology, it is possible to process notarial decrees issued by government agencies and insurance companies,” Bodman said. “Physicians are simply receiving AI-generated advice that enables them to produce clinical observations at the point of care very quickly, avoiding the stress involved in eventually having to do so.”

In addition, AI-driven CAPD software enables disease severity to be recognized, ensuring that providers receive appropriate compensation for all inpatient and outpatient care provided. “If a doctor saw a patient with diabetes and congestive heart failure and forgot about the patient’s chronic kidney failure or severe, debilitating arthritis, that would affect the accuracy of the medical record and billing,” Bodman noted.

“Having clinically relevant expert advice at their fingertips and being able to add it to the memo in as little as 30 seconds can help clinicians produce the documentation needed to receive appropriate compensation, while also improving workflow and relieving stress,” he said. “Getting rid of extra tasks like checking queries in a shopping cart or dealing with an entire email inbox days later is a win for providers.”

To learn more about how AI can reduce physician fatigue through automation, click here for information.

About Nuance Communications, Inc.

Nuance Communications (Nuance) is a technology leader with market leadership in conversational AI and ambient intelligence. A full-service partner trusted by 77 percent of US hospitals and 85 percent of Fortune 100 companies worldwide, Nuance creates intuitive solutions that increase people’s ability to help others.

[1]. Kane, L.; 2021. “Death by 1,000 Wounds”: The National Medscape Report of Fatigue and Suicide for Physician 2021. Jan. 22. https://www.medscape.com/slideshow/2021-lifestyle-burnout-6013456.

[2]. Berg, S.; 2018. How Much Does Physician Burnout Cost to Your Organization? American Medical Association. October 11. https://www.ama-assn.org/practice-management/physician-health/how-much-physician-burnout-costing-your-organization.