The future of Microsoft Teams for healthcare holds a world of possibilities to aid in preventing burnout amongst the healthcare workforce.
During my 30 years as an ED physician in one of Chicago’s Level 1 Trauma Centers, I experienced firsthand the transition from paper medical records to electronic medical record systems (EMR). I was so excited to watch those piles of hand-written charts shrink as medical record-keeping slowly moved into the digital world.
But the transition to EMR also brought additional burdens for clinicians—overwhelming us daily with documentation requirements. We still have a long way to go. Is there a way to help with these overwhelming tasks by using readily available tools?
Using Microsoft Teams in Healthcare
Three years ago, Microsoft launched a platform with tremendous potential to speed the change, making life easier for doctors, clinicians, patients and patients’ families. Microsoft Teams is a cloud-based, software as a service (SaaS) platform that securely integrates chat, video, calling, meetings, and document collaboration. Teams can even host and share medical images for group consults.
I believe this powerful new tool can help address one of the most significant problems facing the medical community—burnout. Though the most recent Mayo Clinic report on physician burnout and work-life integration shows some improvement in physician burnout, nearly 44 percent of all doctors reported at least one symptom of burnout in 2017, compared to just over 28 percent of all American workers.
And with the American Medical Association saying it “is focused on using technology as an asset and not a burden, and developing solutions to make physician burnout a thing of the past,” technology like Microsoft Teams must play a role in tackling burnout and making life easier for everyone in the medical community.
Teams offers a single HIPAA-compliant repository for storing medical records and images, a “base station,” so to speak—but it can be so much more. It is also a powerful tool for scheduling and planning, virtual consulting, even conferencing with patients’ families around the world in real-time.
Putting Teams into Action
To illustrate what a Teams-based medical community might look like, I’d like to introduce you to my friend Lauren (fictional name, real person!).
Lauren is a neurologist and a mom. She dreads getting home at night because instead of spending time with her family, she spends hours completing notes from the day. And, she dreads getting up in the morning, because it means an overwhelming, seemingly unmanageable list of meetings, consults, urgent issues that popped up overnight, and more obstacles that keep her from her true passion—her patients.
As she moves through the day, she encounters even more roadblocks. Let’s imagine how Microsoft Teams could improve a day in Lauren’s busy life:
6:00 a.m. Lauren uses her phone to ask her Teams-based chatbot, “What do I have planned for the day?” Instead of overwhelming her with information, it prioritizes what is most important by accessing information stored in Teams about meetings, messages she needs to address, new information about her patients, and any conflicts that might alter her day.
8:00 a.m. Lauren’s teammates hold a digital huddle using Teams’ whiteboard capabilities. Teams records the data from the huddle in a secure database, again improving care coordination and communication among other doctors, some of whom aren’t even in the country.
8:42 a.m. A message from Teams’ secure messaging system notifies Lauren that one of her pediatric patients, Maria, started experiencing serious complications from a procedure conducted the previous day. Fluid has accumulated in Maria’s brain, putting her recovery at risk. Lauren uses Teams to alert everyone on Maria’s care team, setting up a quick meeting to work out a plan.
10:17 a.m. After stabilizing her, Lauren uses Teams to conference with Maria’s family and let them know what has happened and how they can help. Some of them are in Mexico, but through Teams, she can communicate with them simultaneously, so that all the family members get firsthand information. Meanwhile, Teams alerted the hospital pharmacy to Maria’s new medication regimen.
11:00 a.m. Lauren finds a quiet corner to update Maria’s chart quickly. She accesses the information she needs quickly through her 2-in-1 laptop. With Teams, she can do her work from any device, without having to login to a virtual private network (VPN) or remember a password.
2:00 p.m. In a mid-day consult with her team, Lauren pulls up her notes, photos from Maria’s procedure, and her latest scans through Teams. Because Teams has ambient voice documentation, it records everyone in the room and turns their words into valuable discrete data, such as orders, that can benefit her and all the physicians on her team.
6:30 p.m. Lauren arrives home and spends 30 minutes in her office speaking her notes from the day into her laptop. Before heading downstairs to spend the evening with her family, she asks it, “What does tomorrow look like?” Then she logs off for the day, knowing if any true emergencies arise, Teams will let her know.
Can Lauren’s world of a streamlined workflow for patient care with ambient voice documentation, ordering, scheduling, conferencing, care coordination and collaboration become a reality?
I think it will soon, and Microsoft Teams will help pave the way for less burnout, improved patient care, and a streamlined digital healthcare workforce.