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Pathology professor: Clinicians and patients experiencing 'cognitive overload'

Edward Klatt, a pathology expert at Mercer University School of Medicine says system leaders must be all in on promoting better coping skills.

Beth Jones Sanborn, Managing Editor

Professor Edward C. KlattProfessor Edward C. Klatt

If you work in healthcare and have ever found yourself in sensory overload, you are not alone. Cognitive overload influences how we interact with our coworkers, the workplace culture you cultivate and the success of the care you deliver. When there is too much information and we don't know how to handle it, that leads to stress and ultimately career burnout, said Edward Klatt, a professor of pathology at Mercer University School of Medicine.

Klatt said that during a HIMSS19 session he will be looking at the science of how our brain works, how we interact with others and how information gets used. Then an interactive session will have people grouped together for a topic discussion followed by sharing.

He said in terms of society there is too much info, too many distractions and too much food and all that plays out into a great deal of stress. His focus is to come up with ways of managing all that information or providing core knowledge that helps people move forward with a way of dealing with it.

"We don't have a limitless capacity to acquire and disseminate information and that plays into issues in the workplace that play out in civility and people getting burned out," he said. "We see it in health care systems where there's just huge amounts of additional information or tasks and at some you sit down and say let's look at what is possible to do or what can we do to design systems that work."

Among Klatt's central messages is the reality that you cannot control everything. You can can decide what to subject yourself to and what to avoid, of course, in terms of health and wellbeing and you can develop a personal understanding of what works best for as an individual.

What does that mean at the system-level for top executives?

Klatt also said top down buy-in to promoting values and civility in the workplace is crucial. System leaders and business decision makers should look at ways they can make life better through workflows and better management of information so that people can handle life and care more effectively.

"You can work long hours but there is working and then there's working smart. In other words, what is most effective," he said.

Klatt will offer insights and methods for success at HIMSS19 in a session titled "The Human Side of Informatics: Promoting Wellness." It's scheduled for Tuesday, February 12, from 3:00-4:00 p.m. in room W303A.

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