EHR Systems: Tackling Physician Burnout with AMA’s 2023 Research Grants

EHR Systems: Tackling Physician Burnout with AMA’s 2023 Research Grants

EHRs improve the accuracy and completeness of patient information by minimizing errors and illegible handwriting.

The American Medical Association (AMA) recently announced the recipients of the 2023 Electronic Health Record (EHR) Use Research Grant Program. Nine organizations will receive a total of $589,000 for research focused on studying the use of EHR systems. The aim of this research is to find solutions for preventing clinician burnout, enhancing patient care and improving workflows in medical practices. 

According to Dr. Christine Sinsky, vice president of professional satisfaction at the AMA, burdensome EHR systems have been a major contributing factor to the physician burnout crisis. In an effort to address this issue, the AMA’s grant program supports research that will transform EHR technology into an asset rather than a demoralizing burden for medical professionals.

The funded studies for 2023 will focus on examining the relationships between EHR use and physician cognitive load, as well as the impact of EHR use on team structures and care team processes. 

XTALKS WEBINAR: Implementation Science: Driving Successful Uptake of Medicines and Medical Innovations in Healthcare Delivery

Live and On-Demand: Wednesday, June 28, 2023, at 10am EDT (4pm CEST/EU-Central)

Register for this free webinar to learn how implementation science methods and research approaches can help provide the evidence needed to support the uptake, adoption and sustained use of new medicinal products and medical care innovations in a range of real-world contexts.

AMA’s 2023 Grant Recipients for Research on EHR Use

Since its establishment in 2019, the EHR Use Research Grant Program has awarded over $2 million to fund 26 research studies on various EHR-related topics across different institutions. The program enables researchers to refine their data collection and interpretation methods as robust data becomes available, supporting the growth of this field of study. 

According to the AMA, the following organizations have been selected for the research grants in 2023:

  1. AllianceChicago will use EHR event log data to explore relational continuity among patients, physicians and care teams in primary care.
  2. Brigham and Women’s Hospital will investigate factors influencing EHR usage time and the impact of inbox messages on EHR burden in a primary care setting.
  3. MedStar will study EHR inbox prioritization among primary care physicians.
  4. Stanford University School of Medicine will evaluate the frequency of text messaging in the inpatient setting using EHR event log data, and analyze the relationships between team stability, inbox message frequency and order entry errors.
  5. University of California San Francisco will evaluate how e-visit billing affects clinician EHR inbox time, work beyond scheduled hours and the overall burden of EHR usage.
  6. University of Colorado School of Medicine will explore whether inpatient EHR-based audit log data can help identify work design and workload factors contributing to physician burnout and patient harm.
  7. University of Wisconsin-Madison will investigate the association between team support for medication orders and physician time spent on order entry and inbox management in primary care, using EHR event log data.
  8. Wake Forest University School of Medicine will assess primary care physician EHR usage during paid time off.
  9. Yale University School of Medicine will build upon prior research by examining physician retention, clinical productivity and the utilization patterns of EHRs in the emergency department.

Related: Advancing Medical Record Management: The Power of AI/ChatGPT

What are EHR Systems?

EHRs are digital versions of a patient’s medical history, health-related information and documentation of healthcare encounters. They are comprehensive and longitudinal, meaning they contain information spanning a patient’s entire healthcare journey, including medical history, diagnoses, medications, allergies, lab results, imaging reports and treatment plans.

EHRs are designed to be accessible to authorized healthcare providers across different healthcare settings, such as hospitals, clinics and pharmacies. They serve as a centralized repository of patient information that can be securely accessed, updated and shared by multiple healthcare professionals involved in a patient’s care. This allows for seamless communication and coordination among healthcare providers, leading to more efficient and coordinated care delivery.

The adoption of EHRs offers several benefits over traditional paper-based records. First and foremost, EHRs improve the accuracy and completeness of patient information by minimizing errors and illegible handwriting. They also enhance patient safety by providing alerts for potential drug interactions or allergies. EHRs facilitate the sharing of patient information between healthcare providers, reducing duplication of tests and improving care coordination. 

The use of EHRs has become increasingly prevalent in healthcare due to the numerous advantages they offer. EHRs promote interoperability, allowing different EHR systems to exchange information and share data across organizational boundaries. This interoperability is crucial for delivering coordinated care in today’s complex healthcare landscape.

While EHRs offer many advantages, challenges exist in their implementation and use. Issues such as user interface design, data security and privacy, data standardization and the potential for increased administrative burden are some of the areas that need to be addressed to optimize the benefits of EHRs. The nine EHR research grant recipients will work to resolve these issues and improve interoperability.