A Possible — and Personal — Solution to EMR-related Burnout

An unusual approach shared in a touching JAMA essay could be worth a try

What’s the Claim?

A nice personal perspective piece in JAMA suggested an unusual approach to beating EMR-induced physician burnout: Enlist the help of our patients in reducing “inbox-related stress.”

The author of this touching essay sent a message through his electronic medical record (EMR) to all of his patients. In it, he explained the impact the EMR was having on him (hours a day of correspondence, in his practice), he re-set patients’ expectations, and he explained his new approach:

  • He would not check the EMR on weekends (and he explained how to access emergency coverage)
  • His staff would handle some messages, and he would no longer reply to all of them himself (amazing he did that for as long as he did, honestly)
  • He asked patients to make appointments for more-complex concerns rather than to try to address them using EMR portal messages, and, most touchingly (at least to me)
  • He made a “plea not to send frivolous messages and, if possible, to save less urgent concerns for the next appointment.”

The result?

In the months since reaching out to my patients, I have received far fewer portal messages and feel markedly better.

How’s It Stack Up?