How AI can help solve healthcare's workforce challenges and financial woes
As the healthcare industry evolves, C-level executives are grappling with how to stabilize the inverse correlation between workforce shortages and financial challenges. To do so successfully, hospital CEOs must act quickly to adopt the most effective and scalable arrow in their quiver: Artificial Intelligence.
As the healthcare industry continues to evolve, administrators, C-level executives, and decision-makers are grappling with a range of complex challenges that are putting pressure on their ability to deliver high-quality care to patients. From the increasing administrative burden and associated clinical burnout to rising healthcare costs and changing patient demographics, these challenges are impacting healthcare organizations across the country and threatening their long-term viability. In fact, according to the American College of Healthcare Executives' annual survey of top issues confronting healthcare, hospital CEOs ranked workforce challenges and financial issues as their top concerns for 2023.
Among workforce challenges facing the industry, personnel shortages and physician burnout are those that have executives most worried. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that roughly 500,000 providers have left healthcare altogether since February 2020, with many citing burnout and pandemic-related stressors as top contributors. Additionally, 30 percent of remaining providers admit that they've at least thought about or considered leaving the profession altogether — figures that alarm executives. While COVID-19 has certainly exacerbated these numbers, the pandemic's effect on the clinical workforce is only the tip of the iceberg. The reality is that the trends have been clear for some time now: providers are highly overworked, burned out, and underpaid given their work-life sacrifices.
At the base of these trends is the same issue that has been plaguing the healthcare sector since the passing of HITECH and Meaningful Use: administrative tasks like medical documentation are draining US physicians. In 2022, MedScape reported that 47% of all physicians were burned out, with 60% of those citing administrative tasks as the primary contributor. Physicians report that medical documentation and volume-based reimbursement models detract from the patient visit and consume a significant portion of their in-clinic work and after-hours personal lives. In total, it's estimated that US physicians spend more than 125 million hours on documentation per year.
The impact of medical documentation is invasive and far-reaching and has led to significant repercussions for providers and patients alike. Since MedScape began surveying physician lifestyle and burnout, rates of depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation has only increased. Plagued by an insurmountable administrative load, these disengaged, burned-out physicians are, understandably, more likely to make medical errors, provide sub-optimal care, and leave patients feeling uneasy and dissatisfied with their care. When these burned-out clinicians ultimately leave medicine, hospitals become short-staffed and the remaining personnel is forced to absorb the workload, only furthering the downward spiral. Wait times go up, facilities become overcrowded, and care becomes depersonalized. Simply put, when doctors suffer, hospitals and their patients suffer.
To pile on, financial challenges like staff costs, supplies, care overhead, and reimbursement shrinkage due to federal cuts to Medicare and Medicaid mean that hospitals are stretched even thinner. As a result, hospital CEOs and decision-makers are facing difficult decisions, such as cutting staff or services to remain financially stable or ramping up volume in fee-for-service systems, which we know only hurts clinicians long-term. Ultimately, these financial challenges are having a ripple effect throughout healthcare, leading to reduced access to care, decreased patient satisfaction, and likely negative impacts on patient outcomes.
As such, healthcare executives find themselves in a catch-22. To remain financially stable in times of inflation, increased care costs, and decreased reimbursement, they need a workforce that is willing to do everything in its power to maximize billing opportunities and revenue. But nearly all of the data today shows that it's exactly these high-volume models that are leading to a crippling administrative load that is weakening the clinical workforce and threatening the fabric of our care system. This inverse correlation is precisely what has executives so concerned. It is abundantly clear that organizations must adopt more sustainable approaches that ensure quality patient care while keeping clinicians happy and organizations stable. But finding and implementing those solutions is layered and complicated.
Unwinding volume-based care models, altering documentation and reimbursement systems, and lobbying elected officials to reverse course on federal cuts won't happen overnight. Hospital CEOs and organizational decision-makers must act quickly and leverage the most accessible arrow in their quiver: Technology. Specifically, artificial intelligence.
By automating mundane manual tasks and allowing clinicians to focus on the human aspects of care, AI solutions are, in theory, posed perfectly to combat some of healthcare's biggest issues and hospital CEOs' top concerns. Historically, however, AI technology fell short of accomplishing what it promised, at least on the scale needed for hospitals and large care organizations. Up until now.
DeepScribe is an AI-powered medical scribe that uses natural language processing (NLP) to extract medical information from normal conversations between patients and providers, and then automatically generate comprehensive clinical notes. DeepScribe's AI solution is designed to alleviate physician burnout and workforce shortages by reducing the time and effort required to complete medical documentation. By automating the documentation process, DeepScribe allows clinicians to untether themselves from electronic health record systems and other administrative tasks, allowing them to instead focus on patient care, thus improving clinician well-being and reducing burnout, as well as reducing the risk of medical errors and improving patient satisfaction and quality of care.
Simultaneously, DeepScribe can help hospitals and large healthcare organizations remain financially stable by improving billing accuracy, reducing reimbursement denials, and maximizing revenue opportunities. By leveraging proven AI technology, healthcare organizations can streamline administrative tasks, improve operational efficiency and reduce costs and overhead.
In conclusion, by providing an efficient and effective solution to medical documentation, DeepScribe's AI solution is positioned to successfully alleviate the issues that have healthcare executives and hospital CEOs most worried. With DeepScribe, healthcare organizations can significantly improve physician well-being, increase revenue, and remain financially stable while providing high-quality care to their patients.
To learn more about how DeepScribe can change your practice, request a consultation.