Rising Clinician Burden Points Execs Towards AI Data Exchange

Executives are eying artificial intelligence (AI) health IT investments to mitigate clinician burden from outdated modes of health data exchange.

High rates of clinician burden from outdated modes of patient health data exchange are pushing health IT executives toward artificial intelligence (AI) investments, according to a survey of 1,700 healthcare executives, patients, clinicians, and administrative staff conducted by Wakefield Research on behalf of Olive.

According to 50 percent of administrative staff surveyed, the volume of manual data entry has increased over the past 12 months, and this trend is not expected to change any time soon. More than seven in 10 clinicians (72 percent) expect the time they spend on administrative tasks to increase over the next 12 months.

Many administrative staff rely on archaic technology such as email (62 percent), phone (46 percent), and fax (43 percent) for patient data exchange. Additionally, the survey found that more than half of administrative staff (54 percent) are using paper-based forms at least once a day, including 35 percent who do so at least a couple times a day.

Almost all executives (99 percent) admitted their organization relies on multiple systems for at least one process, especially claims processing (52 percent) and clinical documentation (48 percent). Most clinicians (89 percent) reported having to consult different electronic systems at least a few times a day to access patient information.

The time clinicians spend on administrative tasks takes up a considerable portion of their day, with 36 percent of clinicians saying they spend more than half their day on administrative tasks.

Almost all clinicians (91 percent) agreed that improving administrative processes is the most urgent need to improve the quality of patient care delivery. The current lack of interoperability can lead to incomplete or incorrect patient histories, including patient medication information.

The survey found that 40 percent of patients have had a healthcare professional not know what medications other healthcare providers had prescribed them due to a lack of access to patient information. About a quarter of those patients (23 percent) said they have experienced this more than once.

Incomplete access to patient medication information can lead to medication safety issues, potentially causing adverse drug events (ADEs). The survey also revealed that administrative staff suspect an average of 21 percent of patient records have at least one error.

Addressing the administrative burdens of health data exchange could help give providers greater access to patient health information to prevent ADE and guide clinical decision support. Additionally, time saved on administrative tasks could be spent delivering patient-centered care.

The research revealed that virtually all healthcare executives (99 percent) recognize the opportunity to mitigate clinician burden through AI and automation.

However, executives are mixed on their confidence in which processes AI can automate for the greatest return on investment: 52 percent feel confident they know which to prioritize, but 48 percent are on the fence.

Security (57 percent) and data privacy (53 percent) are executives’ top challenges to carrying out AI initiatives, with lack of skilled staff not far behind (48 percent).

Executives advise a slow and steady approach for the implementation of AI health IT in clinical workflows.

Over 90 percent (96 percent) of executives, 75 percent of clinicians, and 65 percent of administrators are concerned that AI initiatives will prioritize speed over security.

However, concerns over AI are often solved by AI itself, the researchers noted.

Executives predicted that cybersecurity (55 percent) would most benefit from the adoption or expansion of AI, followed by claims management (54 percent) and billing (49 percent).

The survey also found that the current lack of interoperability burdens providers and patients alike. Almost all patients (95 percent) have had to provide the same clinical information more than once, including 55 percent who noted that this happens very often.

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