The report notes that more data can be generated than physicians can analyze and that AI can make use of techniques to help with interpretation of the data. For example, AI can identify matching images for X-rays for radiologists, saving time. AI can be used to improve searching tasks and the documentation process, both of which may be reasons for physician burnout. It is used in one hospital for deciding whether patients with liver cancer need chemotherapy or surgery. In addition, AI-based scheduling programs are being used, with benefit in places with a large number of physicians and ancillary staff.
So much of a physician's workload includes repetitive, tedious tasks involved in researching diagnoses and analyzing patient data and imaging. On top of increasingly demanding administrative and regulatory burdens and electronic health records (EHR) hassles, it's no wonder physicians are burning out in record numbers.
Physician burnout is one of the most serious conditions in today's medical profession. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality defines the condition as "a long-term stress reaction caused by emotional exhaustion [and] depersonalization," among other factors. According to the American Medical Association, physicians suffer from considerable stress caused by facets of their job that have little to do with actually providing personalized patient care. The AMA reports that physicians spend up to six hours daily working with electronic health records (EHRs) to adhere to government and hospital documentation requirements. That's six hours not spent seeing patients, and thus not having the time to listen carefully and diagnose, empathize, hold a hand, speak with family members, or explain conditions and next steps.
Insurer UnitedHealth Group, which operates physician practices for more than 20,000 doctors through its Optum subsidiary, launched a program to help doctors quickly determine whether drugs are covered by a patient's insurance plan during the patient visit. It is also running a pilot program for Medicare plans in eight states to shrink the number of procedures that require prior authorization.