Data Dysfunction: Is Patient Burnout the Next Public Health Crisis?

April 16, 2024


Data Dysfunction: Is Patient Burnout the Next Public Health Crisis?

Regulatory mandates have helped advance patient access to health data in recent years, so why are many patients experiencing burnout rather than empowerment? It’s a question that weighs on our Chief Medical Officer, Colin Banas, M.D., M.H.A., and Unblock Health Co-Founder Grace Cordovano, PhD. The two took time out while attending HIMSS last month to share their thoughts with Healthcare IT Today’s John Lynn.

The conversation covered a lot of ground, from what patients see as a big win in terms of better visibility to their data, to where the prior authorization process is stuck in major fail mode, to how game changing AI is poised to advance patient data in the not-too-distant future.

“Patients and families are burned out from administrative burdens, too, it’s not just clinicians,” said Cordovano, who frequently works with federal agencies to bring a patient-advocate lens to developing regulation. “Patient burnout is the silent public health crisis that no one is really talking about. So when it comes to working with a health IT vendor like DrFirst, the sweet spot for me would be ‘which vendor is better able to address the administrative burden of both patients and providers?’”

Banas is quick to agree that improving patient access to health information goes hand-in-hand with giving providers complete visibility to patient data. To illustrate his point, he recounts a recent “prior authorization nightmare” that turned what should have been a simple prescription fill for a routine medication into a two-day standoff over a fax machine.


In the CMS final rule on prior authorization released earlier this year, payers have until January 2027 to streamline processes and meet compliance deadlines. The panel agreed that two years is too long for patients and clinicians to wait for change. There’s a lot that industry leaders can do in the meantime to drive innovation and efficiency, they said, especially around AI-powered clinical tools.

Asked by John Lynn about the implications of AI to advance patient access, Banas describes how DrFirst will continue to use clinical-grade AI to automate manual data entry tasks that save clinicians time, but stresses, “that’s just the tip of the iceberg” compared to what’s coming.


Cordovano also sees AI-powered clinical decision support as a gamechanger for patient access, with one significant caveat: that patients be recognized as and even co-creators of AI. She shares perspective on why it’s critical that AI-derived outputs be available in the patient record and reveals which patient data mandate she hopes to see in the next round of regulation.


Watch the full interview here.

About DrFirst
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Since 2000, DrFirst has pioneered healthcare technology solutions and consulting services that securely connect people at touchpoints of care to improve patient outcomes.