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When Technology Can Reduce - Not Cause - Clinician Burnout


In this podcast, the chief innovation officer at the UPMC health system joins us to explain the potential of artificial intelligence in reducing burnout.

Welcome to the latest edition of the Physicians Practice Pearls Podcast. In this podcast, we'll bring you some of the most interesting and influential guests in healthcare. If you have any ideas for podcast guests or topics, email us at

For this week's Physicians Practice Pearls podcast, we spoke with Rasu Shrestha, MD, the chief innovation officer at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC). UPMC recently announced a strategic partnership with Microsoft, whereby the two entities will look to use artificial intelligence to cure physician burnout.

In an era of medicine where technology seems to be the cause of burnout, the notion that it could cure burnout is a likely an odd thing for physicians to hear. "Technology, in large part, tends to still be an impediment," Shrestha says. "As a clinician by training, I can tell you, we often see technology as a hurdle. It helps in the things we're trying to do, but we have to tolerate it."

However, Shrestha sees potential for much more. Using artificial intelligence and machine-learning capabilities, he says, technology can enable better care. "That's what this partnership with Microsoft is really about…leveraging technology, doing it in such way that technology, as much as possible, becomes invisible," he says.

Later on in the podcast, Shrestha addresses the skeptics and those concerned that artificial intelligence and other technologies are potentially going to replace physicians. "What I'd say is it's less of surfing the hype wave and looking at a doomsday scenario of man vs. machine…it's more of man working with machine, leveraging machine, leveraging machine-learning capabilities to help us be better at what we're doing," says Shrestha. "What's going to happen is these machines are going to come in and help us be better clinicians."

Shrestha sees a difference between artificial intelligence capabilities and the EHRs of today, which have been the major cause of physician burnout. "It's not just technology for the sake of technology, which I think has gotten us where we are today. We've embraced technology, but we've been fearful of letting go of the culture of analog."

He goes on to explain how else technology can be a cure for physician burnout. Click to play the rest of this interview above.  


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