Physician Satisfaction

Skywriter MD improves physician satisfaction by removing the heavy administrative burden of EMR navigation and documentation, by executing the following under the verbal direction of the provider:

  • Locating patient information for review, such as lab results, radiology images, procedure notes and historical records
  • Entering assessment and plan information into the EMR
  • Transcribing orders and prescriptions
  • Responding to messages
  • Relaying instructions to office staff

By offloading these clerical tasks, providers spend a greater portion of their time interacting with patients, which improves care quality and directly contributes to greater job satisfaction.

physician-satifactionA 2013 report by RAND Corporation entitled Factors Affecting Physician Professional Satisfaction and Their Implications for Patient Care, Health Systems, and Health Policy, notes:

“Among other things, the researchers found that physicians who perceived themselves or their practices as providing high-quality care reported better professional satisfaction. Physicians, especially those in primary care, were frustrated when demands for greater quantity of care limited the time they could spend with each patient, detracting from the quality of care in some cases. Electronic health records were a source of both promise and frustration, with major concerns about interoperability between systems and with the amount of physician time involved in data entry.”

Quality of Care

A Northwestern University study was published in the International Journal of Medical Informatics, Dynamic modeling of patient and physician eye gaze to understand the effects of electronic health records on doctor-patient communication and attention, which notes that “When doctors spend that much time looking at the computer, it can be difficult for patients to get their attention. It’s likely that the ability to listen, problem-solve and think creatively is not optimal when physicians’ eyes are glued to the screen.

Skywriter MD helps providers focus their full attention on the patient, resulting in more opportunity to drive a higher level of quality in the following ways:

  • Develop a deeper connection with the patient and drive trust
  • Focus on nonverbal cues that suggest further exploration
  • Probe for additional information that may reveal underlying concerns and symptoms that are relevant to care
  • Drive deeper conversations on follow-up activities and preventive medicine
  • Optimize care coordination among the patient’s entire care team

When providers no longer have to divide their attention between typing into the EMR and treating patients, they may engage in more meaningful interactions with patients, increasing the time they may devote to evaluation, diagnosis and treatment.

In addition, improved provider productivity increases patient access to the practice, which is also a contributor to overall quality of care. Improved patient throughput increases the practice’s ability to manage same-day appointments, schedule more patients each day, and communicate with patients via telephone or email.

Productivity

Widespread adoption of EMRs has changed the workflow of physicians, and has increased the amount of time spent documenting patient care. A 2005 study, Time Spent in Face-to-Face Patient Care and Work Outside the Examination Room, published in the Annals of Family Medicine, found that providers spent nearly 50% of each day performing clerical tasks, the majority of which was comprised of documentation. In another study published in 2013 in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine, Physicians Spend More Time on EMRs Than With Patients in ED, researchers noted that ED physicians spend nearly half their time entering data into the EMR, roughly twice as much as delivering direct patient care.

Skywriters relieve that heavy documentation burden so that physicians may focus on higher value-added tasks, allowing them to spend more time with, and see more patients. On average, Skywriters increase the productivity of providers by at least 10%, which can increase the revenue of practices, or in a managed care model, support larger patient loads with the same number of providers.

Patient Experience of Care

The importance of patient satisfaction is growing as health reform evolves. Patients are making more informed choices, and as quality scores level out across the board, patients will look for other differentiators, primarily satisfaction scores and personal referrals, when choosing providers.

Skywriter MD helps providers retool processes to attract and retain patients by:

  • Offloading administrative tasks and increasing the amount of time providers may spend communicating with patients
  • Increasing patient throughput to deliver more timely care
  • Helping the provider communicate with other team members to support care coordination

Quality and Accuracy of Documentation

Access to discrete, high quality data within the EMR is increasingly important for a variety of initiatives and reporting requirements including: Meaningful Use, Health Information Exchanges (HIEs), Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS), Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs), Value-based Purchasing Programs, The Joint Commission (TJC), Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Core Measures, and the Organization’s Financial and Operational Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).

Organizations are designing their EMRs to support documentation and reporting of these quality performance standards. Templates are organized to help clinicians enter data in coded rather than free-text form, but according to a study published in Health Affairs, Physicians’ Use Of Electronic Medical Records: Barriers And Solutions:

“Most respondents or their colleagues considered even highly regarded, industry-leading EMRs to be challenging to use because of the multiplicity of screens, options, and navigational aids. Problems with EMR usability—especially for documenting progress notes—caused physicians to spend extra work time to learn effective ways to use the EMR. These substantial initial time costs are an important barrier to obtaining benefits, as greater burdens on physicians’ time decrease their use of EMRs, which lowers the potential for achieving quality improvement.”

In addition, studies estimate that providers lose between 9% and 20% of their potential income each year to downcoding – either through self-inflicted selection of a lower level of service, or insurer-imposed changes to billing codes due to inadequate documentation. Downcoding can be the result of lack of knowledge of billing and coding rules, concern about claims denials, fear of being audited, or inadequate documentation, but with the right support, providers can accurately represent their scope of service.

Skywriters receive training on quality performance standards and the medical billing process, and are able to improve the completeness of documentation, reduce the incidence of down-coding, and ensure that each chart is signed by its owner (the provider). With Skywriter MD, providers can expect consistent, accurate and complete data entry to meet the comprehensive documentation and reporting requirements of today’s health reform pressures. The financial benefit of improving the quality of documentation will depend on the group or practice; an indicator of the potential value is the recurring rate of down-coded charts.