How to ease clinician cognitive overload

Clinicians are now inundated with more volumes and types of data than ever before and there’s an urgent need to organise and present the data for efficient processing by the clinician.

Clinicians today are not only expected to provide exceptional patient care but also reduce hospital readmissions, advance community health, stay abreast of medical research, adopt new medical technologies, and cope with an ever-evolving regulatory structure.  

In addition to that, clinicians now use complex Electronic Medical Records (EMR) that require multiple mouse clicks to complete tasks, along with complex alerts and information-dense user screens. Many studies have documented a close-response relationship between EMR usability and the odds of clinician burnout. 

More data is good- so long as it can be understood quickly and easily

With advances in the adoption of EMR and Electronic Health Record (EHR) technology in the clinic, there has come an explosion of data. 

This data is presented to clinicians along with the unstated expectation that they will review each item of data and respond appropriately in the context of the patient’s overall clinical picture. This may lead to a great deal of clinician mental effort, sometimes, unfortunately, wasted if the data isn’t relevant to the current problem.  

Clinicians are now inundated with more volumes and types of data than ever before and there’s an urgent need to organise and present the data for efficient processing by the clinician.  

Clinician workflows are already non-linear and disruptive, and technology with poorly presented data, notifications and alerts can quickly add to this burden. Cognitive overload makes it harder for clinicians to focus on critical patient care tasks and is an unintended consequence of poorly designed systems and likely one of the major causes of clinician burnout.1 

Time-starved clinicians experience notification fatigue 

As well as specific data, notifications and alerts are well recognised to be a key problem. Too many alerts of low value and the clinician will either turn them off or simply ignore them altogether. Not enough high priority alerts and clinicians may lose trust in the system. 

Clinicians spend a significant part of their day addressing alerts and notifications generated by their information technology systems. Types of notifications include abnormal test results, referral responses, medication refill requests, and messages from other clinicians, care teams and so on. 

One study found that primary care physicians spend over an hour or 66.8 minutes each day processing notifications. And because a single notification often has multiple data points, such as metabolic panels containing multiple laboratory values, the actual cognitive effort placed on the clinician is even greater.  

When clinicians are bombarded with so much information throughout the day, they can become overloaded and it becomes difficult to focus on critical patient care tasks and can lead to medical errors.  

Let Orion Health ease your burden 

Care won’t get less complex, and information will only continue to grow, so what can Orion Health do to lessen the cognitive overload on clinicians?  

Our Orion Health Intelligence solution can help with processing high volumes and different types of patient dataFor instance, highlighting in the clinical record those patients who are at high risk for a range of conditions such as high-risk maternityor patients who have gaps in their care.  

Our solution brings the power of machine learning to volumes of patient data, thereby providing clinicians with readily understood patterns and inferences about their patient data. 

Tired of switching between databases and different information systems?  

Our Orion Health Clinical Portal provides clinicians with tools to support patient care by integrating existing disparate information systems and providing them with a single view of all patient data.  

Clinical Portal is easy to use with minimal clinician training required. The combined experience of two decades of implementation and its use globally with over 100 million patient lives in approximately 20 countries is reflected in a highly efficient and easy to use solution. 

Clinical Portal allows clinicians to access all patient information with little friction, saving time and lowering cognitive overload and leaving more time to care for patients.  

Interested in finding out more about how our range of solutions can help you ease cognitive overload?  

1  Franklin A. (2015) The Unintended Consequences of the Technology in Clinical Settings. In: Patel V., Kannampallil T., Kaufman D. (eds) Cognitive Informatics for Biomedicine. Health Informatics. Springer, Cham