The Role of Predictive Workflow for EHRs in Reducing Physician Burnout during the COVID-19 Pandemic


Craig Limoli


CEO and Founder of Wellsheet

February 18, 2022

The Role of Predictive Workflow for EHRs in Reducing Physician Burnout during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Without a doubt, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed how medicine is delivered and practiced all over the world. Over the last two years, hospitals across Europe1, the United States2, and parts of Asia3 saw increasingly more emergency room visits, less urgent and non-urgent admissions, and less outpatient and inpatient procedures. The burden of high emergency room turnover rests on the shoulders of ER physicians and staff, as well as those managing patients on the floors. Physician burnout is at an all-time high.

Physician Burnout in Numbers

In December 2021, KLAS Researchreleased new data that show the extent to which COVID-19 has contributed to physician burnout. Prior to the pandemic, burnout was consistently reported by 25% of providers. In 2020, this number increased to approximately one-third of all healthcare staff. 2021 saw even higher rates of burnout, particularly during the rise of the Delta variant. A significant number of physicians linked their burnout to COVID-19. This burnout was compounded by other stressors, such as salary cuts and cumbersome administrative workflows, particularly with difficult EHRs.

Unwieldy EHRs have been at the core of physician burnout for decades. EHRs were first proliferated as part of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act in 2009 as an attempt to provide more cost-effective healthcare. Over ten years later, studies consistently show that record-keeping takes twice as long with EHRs. Dr. Philip Kroth, director of Biomedical Informatics Research at the University of New Mexico, teamed up with Stanford University to evaluate the impact of EHRs on physician burnout5. Their data found that up to 40% of clinicians cited EHRs as a source of significant stress.

The combination of COVID-19 and EHR complexity result in a vicious cycle of stress for frontline physicians. Burnout levels are significant enough that patients are noticing it in their doctors for the first time. A recent study6 by Wheel, a virtual care platform company, found that up to 80% of patients felt that their healthcare provider seemed to be experiencing burnout within the past year. One in three patients actually believed that physician burnout could have impacted the quality of care they received.

New Models for the New Normal

Scientists are increasingly agreeing that COVID-19 will become endemic. Now more than ever, there is a need to elevate healthcare delivery, especially where improvements can be made. Experts from major EHR providers, including Epic, Cerner, Allscripts and others agree that the EHR UI and UX has to be redesigned8.

Wellsheet is a predictive workflow platform that is integrated natively and deployed quickly with the major EHR providers. It employs machine-learning and AI to customize a view of the existing EHR data into an intuitive, physician-friendly and patient-centered interface, which reduces the total number of hours spent in the EHR. RWJBarnabas Health, the largest integrated health network in New Jersey, saw as much as a 40% reduction in clinician time spent in EHRs after adopting Wellsheet.

  • Wellsheet is structured with clinicians in mind. Its underlying predictive models allow it to identify the preferences of the physician using its platform. It then prioritizes information relevant to that physician’s specialty and the patient’s reason for visit, so that an orthopedic surgeon will get radiology reports on his home screen, whereas an endocrinologist will get a trend line of a patient’s blood sugar readings through time. Each physician’s home screen is also fully customizable, so that a physician can choose which data is presented to her by default every time she opens the platform. This reduces the number of clicks through disjointed data, which lowers the overall time spent on the EHR.
  • Wellsheet takes each patient’s diagnoses into account. Wellsheet’s algorithm allows it to pull data from across multiple EHRs and other data sources to present a comprehensive clinical snapshot of a patient. As such, the EHR of a patient being admitted for bypass surgery will show his laboratory data through time, any angiography findings, and whether preoperative clearance is already available. As above, this reduces the time spent looking through mountains of data, as well as coordinating between departments. Wellsheet also integrates patient information with best practice guidelines. This provides contextualized decision-making support for physicians, which reduces the time and stress associated with making large clinical decisions.
  • Wellsheet is quick and easy for IT teams. Installing Wellsheet requires a total of around five active IT hours, and learning to use Wellsheet takes “5, maybe 10minutes”. All updates are web-delivered, which means there is no system downtime or required man-hours. Wellsheet is also cloud-based, which allows it to deliver the same experience (and information)across different devices, including mobile. Physicians who see patients across multiple sites in the same network can expect to access the same data and resources across these locations.

As the world enters the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is becoming increasingly clear that there is more to good healthcare than great doctors. Now more than ever, hospitals are being called to provide quality support to reduce physician burnout. The EHR has traditionally been cited as a significant source of stress. Wellsheet has transformed the physician experience with the EHR with an intuitive and efficient interface that effectively champions patient care. Wellsheet has proven that it has made healthcare delivery easier, better, and faster multiple times over.

Join an Educational Health Innovation (EHI) session on “The Great Workforce Burnout: A Solution to the Administrative EHR Burden,” to hear directly from clinicians, download the implementation guides for Cerner and Epic to learn more about Wellsheet, or click here for a 1:1 demo on how you can customize and simplify your EHR experience.

Craig Limoli is CEO and founder of Wellsheet. Craig founded Wellsheet to transform the physician experience with the EHR and to change the way clinicians treat patients by adding intelligence to medical records. Wellsheet uses machine learning to predict what clinicians need to know at the point of care, presenting an intuitive view of the most meaningful clinical data. Follow @Wellsheet_inc or @craiglimoli.