Digital transformation and burnout

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

Hi there, I'm Armin, PGY4 Psychiatry in Regina. I've been working on this project for a little over a year since I started in the admin resident position. I'm going to quickly go over what is not in the abstract: the motivation for this project, what was supposed to happen, what actually happened, and where to go from here, because I still firmly believe there is potential here.

2. Motivation

The problem that I was hoping to solve was the inefficiency and difficulties that was involved in sending and receiving forms, more specifically leave and vacation requests. It was a hassle keeping track of those forms, and things would often get lost, duplicated, missing signatures, there were a lot of issues. And at the end we ended up double and triple checking everything which made making the call schedule a nightmare that'd take days.

3. What was supposed to happen

With this project, I wanted to transform that process and turn it into a one-click solution. The vision is I'd go to a website, fill out a short form, click submit, and forget about it. The website would then call out to the appropriate people, email them with a link to approve or decline the request, and notify whoever was involved or needed to informed. The web app would also track all the requests and which ones were approved or not. On top of that, the web app would feed that information into an algorithm that I had written earlier to create the call schedule. Now everybody is happy. I'm happy because I get to create a call schedule in 5 minutes, not hours or days. Program admin is happy because she has an effective tool to keep track of who's away and when, and doesn't have to chase paper forms figuring out which ones are signed and which ones aren't. And residents are happy because they don't have to chase anyone, they just need to fill a short form and click submit. Now, currently, all of this works. We've been using this system for a few months now, and we have some disappointing data to show.

4. What happened instead

When we collected all the data, I found out this made no difference in how residents felt about the leave request process. It was still a burden. What gives? Well, turns out email is a difficult problem to solve. Not everyone checks their email frequently, email can get lost, servers become unresponsive, and sadly, microsoft servers hosting domain decided to silently drop emails from, so I later found out emails from the leave requests weren't actually reaching the attending physicians. That lead to lack of trust, and slowly residents reverted back to paper forms which are more reliable.

On top of that, it turns out going out and asking for a signature in-person is a more reliable way to get that signature rather than fire-and-forgetting an email without also following up. We're dealing with busy people.

Essentially, this project failed first and foremost because it focused solely on the technical aspects of the problem and completely ignore the social issues that surround it.

5. Where to go from here

The next step is to go back and figure out the social issues around the technical problems and tackle those. I have a few ideas how the problems I've mentioned can be solved and hope I can continue to work on this project. Sorry I talked too fast, 4 minutes wasn't long enough! Thank you for your attention!

Created: 2023-04-20 Thu 23:15