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CVS Health Aims to Alleviate Clinician Burnout Through EHR Alerts

A recent CVS Health report said the company is looking to decrease the number of EHR alerts to lessen clinician burnout.

CVS Health is striving to mitigate clinician burnout by limiting the number of EHR alerts, according to CVS Health’s Health Trends Report 2021.

Furthermore, CVS Health is aiming to improve interoperability by integrating natural language processing. The company also said its EHR vendor, Epic Systems, is optimizing its patient portal, MyChart, in preparation for the ONC interoperability rule.

“In 2021 and beyond, EHRs will continue to face these growing pains,” wrote the report authors.   “Innovations in both software and integration are already changing some of their more vexing features.”

Minimizing EHR alerts

EHR fatigue caused by alerts has been a problem for clinicians who are already struggling with EHR usability overload. Low-value EHR alerts can hurt patient care and contribute to physician burnout.

However, effective EHR alerts such as admission, discharge, and screening reminders can enhance clinical efficiency by opening up communication through the EHR.

“When we first built our system, we built in a lot of alerts to support evidence-based medicine, and kept adding them because we wanted to make sure we were creating safety nets around new clinical issues,” said Sharon Vitti, president of MinuteClinic and senior vice president of CVS Health.

Since clinicians are experiencing alert fatigue, CVS Health said it has distributed user group surveys and has worked with its EHR vendor to develop an EHR alert system and improve workflow efficiency.

Boosting EHR interoperability

Patient data exchange continues to be vital in healthcare, especially during a pandemic

Because COVID-19 sometimes forces patients to travel to unfamiliar hospitals, interoperability and precise patient data exchange are essential to maintain patient safety.

As a result, both Epic and Cerner have launched initiatives to improve interoperability, especially to providers that use two separate EHR systems. CVS Health noted natural language processing as a potential technique that could improve provider-to-provider communication.

“Interoperability has been a big area of our focus. It has to be,” Vitti said. “Retail medical clinics share information with hundreds of providers and medical institutions. We can’t exist in a silo.”

Since 2014, Vitti’s teams have shared 128 million patient records across 10,000 healthcare facilities through the Epic Care Everywhere platform.

Epic Systems announced it facilitated over 221 million patient data exchanges in October 2020, a roughly 40 percent increase from the same time last year.

Preparing patient portal for the ONC interoperability rule

The final ONC interoperability rule aims to drive patient access to and sharing of her electronic health information, allowing the individual the ability to coordinate her own healthcare. It also calls on medical providers and device developers to promote patient data access using third-party apps and APIs.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and ONC allowed health organizations further flexibility to appropriately respond to the COVID-19 pandemic by extending the compliance deadlines for the ONC Final Interoperability Rule.

The information blocking provisions and requirements compliance date, along with the API conditions and maintenance of certification are now scheduled for April 5, 2021.

Although patients have been able to request their personal medical records in the past, the interoperability rule will make it easier for patients to access this data.

Epic is working to optimize its patient portal to help users view and share patient health information.

Vitti described MyChart as an “indispensable tool” for both patients and clinicians. Over the past year, CVS Health clinicians have leveraged the patient portal more frequently to conduct telehealth visits. CVS Health patients can also use the patient portal to view COVID-19 test results.

“EHRs still have a long way to go before they deliver on all of their promise,” concluded report authors. “But these and other good ideas—such as add-ons that incorporate social determinants of health and can, for instance, help a clinician remember to work a patient’s food insecurity into their diabetes plan19—may turn the tide. In the coming years, the EHR may at last become the intuitive, unobtrusive and everyday tool that changes medicine for the better.”

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