An Innovative Approach to Improve Communication and Reduce Physician Stress and Burnout in a University Affiliated Residency Program

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Journal of medical systems


Ineffective communication between nursing staff and residents leads to numerous educational and patient-care interruptions, increasing resident stress and overall workload. We developed an innovative and simple, secure electronic health record (EHR) base text paging system to communicate with internal medicine residents. The goal is to avoid unnecessary interruption during patient care or educational activities and reduce stress. Traditional paging system can send a phone number to call back. We developed and implemented a HIPPA-compliant, EHR-integrated text paging at a busy 591-bed urban hospital. Access was granted to unit clerks, nursing staff, case managers, and physicians. Senders could either send a traditional telephone number page or a text page through our EHR. The recipient could then either acknowledge receipt of the page or take appropriate actions. Afterward, Internal medicine residents were polled on overall satisfaction difference between basic phone based numeric paging and the enhanced EHR text paging system. Educational interruptions (averaging over 7 pages) decreased from 64% to 16%. Patient care interruptions fell from 68% to 12%. 88% of residents felt that 50% or less of the pages were non-emergent and did not require an immediate action. 92% of 25 surveyed internal medicine residents preferred text paging over numeric paging and responded through the EHR 60% of the time by placing direct orders. Time savings using the new system over a 3-month span amounted to 72.5 h in transmission time alone. Text paging among medical caregivers and internal medicine residents through EHR-associated communication reduced patient care and educational interruptions. It saved time spent sending pages, answering unnecessary pages and it improved resident's subjective stress and satisfaction levels.

Medical Subject Headings

Burnout, Professional; Communication; Hospital Communication Systems; Humans; Internal Medicine; Internship and Residency; Physicians; Universities

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