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Featured in the December 1, 2022 Issue of the Rehabilitation & Community Providers Association (RCPA) Quarterly Newsletter

Provider burnout and workforce challenges are more prevalent than ever since the pandemic. This particularly affects the behavioral health field, with more people seeking mental health care and understaffed organizations struggling to recruit and retain their workforce to meet the growing demand.

One of the biggest issues fueling workforce challenges is administrative burden. Documentation takes up hours of the workday, leaving less time for client interaction and creating frustration for the provider. The Association for Behavioral Healthcare found that 95% of providers agreed that reduced administrative burden is needed to retain staff.

Consider a counseling session, where a provider needs to maintain a connection with the client while reviewing their mental health concerns, checking for safety, and utilizing therapeutic interventions. Documentation takes the focus away from client care, eroding provider capacity and engagement.

The American Medical Association recommends the term “augmented intelligence” for technology that enhances human intelligence rather than replacing it. Augmented intelligence technology embedded in an electronic health record (EHR) workflow allows providers to focus on clients rather than charting.

“With the dramatic increase in demand for behavioral health services, augmented intelligence provides for a more engaged therapeutic intervention focused only on the delivery of services to the individuals seeking care. It allows the clinician to be totally present in the session, creating better treatment outcomes and less stress and burnout for the clinician. This is one of the most, if not the most, exciting uses of technology to improve the quality of care in our field while reducing the administrative burden on the staff.” 

Susan Blue, CEO, President, and owner of Community Services Group

Some of these technologies use natural language understanding, translating behavioral health sessions into progress note suggestions to reduce documentation work. They can even give the provider feedback on the session to enhance use of evidence-based techniques, improving quality of care. The most effective augmented intelligence technologies are purpose-built for behavioral health, trained using real-world data, and embedded seamlessly within EHR workflows, ensuring their benefits are within reach of busy providers. 

“After piloting a talk-to-text technology that utilized augmented intelligence, our counselors saw a 35% improvement in fidelity to our evidence-based therapeutic model. The reduced documentation time and the ability to review accurate client responses, instead of clinician impressions alone, enabled our counselors to provide more individualized treatment utilizing proven therapeutic techniques. Our counselors were able to do their job better –  in a more efficient and engaging manner.” 

Dale Klatzker, PhD, President and CEO of Gaudenzia, Inc.

These technologies don’t replace providers, but as the National Academy of Medicine notes, providers who leverage them will replace those who don’t. Millennials and Gen-Z represent nearly one-third of the healthcare workforce and increasingly expect healthcare technology will assist them in practice. As more organizations adopt augmented intelligence technologies, companies that utilize them will have an edge in staff recruitment and retention.