What Innovations Have Improved Physicians’ Work Environment?

What Innovations Have Improved Physicians’ Work Environment?

Physicians often experience the growing pains of change. But innovative solutions that drive change can also lead to increased productivity, professional satisfaction, and better ways to treat patients.

What recent innovations improved your professional satisfaction as a physician or student? Three Pennsylvania Medical Society members shared their thoughts in the summer edition of the Pennsylvania Physician magazine. Below is a recap:

Namath Hussain, MD, is a neurological surgery resident at Penn State Hershey Medical Center, Hershey, Pa. He is a member of the Resident and Fellows Section.

The advent and further development and refinement of minimally invasive surgical tools and techniques has given me the ability to provide surgical solutions to patients’ medical problems that entail less pain, blood loss, and cost and fewer hospital days. As we work with primary care physicians, rehabilitation specialists, and physical therapists, I believe that the use of these minimally invasive surgery options will provide patients with an option that will get them on their feet, back to work, and back to enjoying their favorite activities quicker.

Alexis Smith, DO, is a radiologist who practices in Steubenville, Ohio, and lives in Washington County, Pa. She is a member of PAMED’s Young Physicians Section Governing Council.

With the advent of CT, MRI, ultrasound, and digital mammography just to name a few, we now have diagnostic capabilities that could only be dreamt of 50 years ago. The downside to all of these technologies is that the radiologist is no longer seen like they were in the era of fluoroscopy, view boxes, and X-rays on film.

In recent years as reimbursements have declined, there has also been increasing pressure to read more studies and a corresponding drop in professional satisfaction among radiologists. We often feel like the proverbial hamster in a wheel; stuck in a dark room churning out study after study with no human contact.

Our specialty societies are attempting to reverse these trends and increase professional satisfaction by encouraging radiologists to get out of the reading room and become more interactive with patients and providers. Of course, such an effort requires more efficient use of our time during any given day.

The development of automated reporting systems and data collection has helped us find that extra time. Whereas reports previously took days to make with the use of paper, pencil, and transcriptionists, they can now be completed in seconds using templates and voice recognition software in conjunction with the ease of viewing and manipulating images on PACS. Using the same software, data can be collected for MQSA inspections or to measure quality metrics with a few clicks of a mouse instead of spending hours going through a huge stack of papers.

These tools keep me from getting bogged down in minutiae, so I can spend more time doing what I love — caring for my patients.

David Eisenberg is a medical student at The Commonwealth Medical College, Scranton, Pa., and vice chair of PAMED’s Medical Students Section.

Oftentimes the first thing that comes to mind when we hear innovations in health care is either EHRs or robotic surgery. However, technological innovations have also been successfully applied to the medical school education environment.

At The Commonwealth Medical College, we use what is called a flipped classroom for the end of Year 1 and all of Year 2. This means that the teachers pre-record all lectures via a program called Tegrity, which the students then listen to and learn from independently, with the professor available for questions via email and office hours.

Then comes time for class, when time is spent focusing on clinical case discussions, large or small group work, as well as case presentations.

So, how has this improved the learning environment? First, it teaches students how to learn independently and tailor their learning to their individual needs.

Students are able to listen to the lectures as many or as few times as they like and can really gain an understanding for how they learn effectively. They will be able to apply this to their future career, which involves a commitment to lifelong learning. In addition, being able to save class time for case presentations and group work engages students in active, team-based learning with their peers.

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