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Health tech honcho: try IT fixes for patient burnout

A recent Time magazine cover story has revived interest in “patient burnout” – a syndrome suffered when people feel so challenged by the health care system that they’re discouraged from engaging with it, missing needed care. Part B News has the story (subscription needed).
Like the other experts in our story, Sidd Shah, vice president for product & business growth at EHR company eClinicalWorks’ business unit healow health and former program lead for the New York City Health Department’s Primary Care Information Project (PCIP), has seen the burnout problem up close, and shares his thoughts on how to cool it down.
Patient burnout, Shah says, isn’t necessarily caused by the patient’s experiences in the doctor’s office; it could grow from related extrinsic anxieties, such as economic factors that the patient may relate to their ability to access care. “Or it could be about just finding the right physician opinion,” Shah says, “or taking too long to find an appointment, or the provider not being empathetic about the patient not being able to pay their medical bills.”
Expectedly, Shah suggests a role for technical solutions – for example, a “direct booking” solution for scheduling such as healow provides. This prevents the confusion of competing appointment streams, he says, where “you as a consumer go to something-dot-com or to your app, and when you book you're not looking at the same schedule as the provider, and some other patient might be on the phone or on another site booking an appointment.
Shah is also a fan of patient self-check-in: “It instills a sense of control and removes [the] paper process of filling [out] forms,” he says. It also “gives providers more time to spend with patients vs. on systems and data entry.”
Also, “timely messaging to the patients on the day of or day prior to the appointment” and “televisits between in-person visits if schedules are heavily booked [so] patients are not waiting too long to be seen” are other ways to use tech to ease stress that can lead to patient burnout, Shah says.
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