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March 9, 2021 | 5 Tactics to Address Physician Burnout

Physician burnout has been a growing problem in healthcare for years, but nothing has quite expedited this concern like the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, the Medical Economics 2020 Physician Burnout Survey reported that 65% of physicians indicated that the pandemic has increased their feelings of burnout. When physicians are feeling overworked and dissatisfied with their roles, this can impact their personal lives, their patients’ lives, and the healthcare system as a whole.

Solutions for combating burnout should not just focus on the individual physician. Instead, they should be implemented at all levels. This way, they can address the issues causing physician burnout to better understand and reduce the challenges physicians face. Below, we outline a few tactics that can help support physician well-being and satisfaction in healthcare.

 

1) Reducing Administrative Burdens

In the U.S., healthcare policies are complex, and they impose paperwork and administrative burdens on physicians. In the 2018 Medical Economics Physician Report, 79% of doctors said administrative burdens were the top challenge they experience in practice. When physicians spend their time on paperwork, it takes away from the time they could use with patients. According to an AVIA study, 65% of the time physicians spend on administrative tasks leaves them with an average of only seven minutes per patient for evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment.

While there isn’t a solution that will eliminate paperwork and administrative burdens, there are some ways to better support physicians and save them more time.

Technology can help. Healthcare processes have been transforming with technological advancements for years, and the new rules from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) have the potential to reduce administrative burdens and improve quality of care.

The rules include provisions around application programming interfaces (APIs). APIs can process more data for physicians so they can improve EHR documentation, drive operational efficiencies, and support their clinical decisions and care delivery. Investing in APIs is just one of the many technology solutions that can help physicians with their administrative tasks and give them more time to spend with patients.

 

2) Enabling Technology Solutions

As we mentioned, technology solutions are the way of the future for many industries, especially healthcare. With nearly 30% of doctors adopting digital health technology, healthcare will become increasingly digitized, according to an AMA survey. This is because it has the potential to expand and improve healthcare processes, including assisting physicians.

Technology solutions have been found to enable:

Physicians can utilize the benefits that digital health tools offer to improve their care delivery and daily operations. For example, solutions like remote patient monitoring (RPM) have been found to increase patient engagement and compliance, decrease hospitalizations, and improve clinical outcomes. It keeps patients healthier in between office visits, letting physicians have more time to focus on the patients who need their immediate care.

Technology solutions can provide patients with more support both in the office and from home while lifting some of the burdens off physicians so they can have more time and implement better processes.

 

3) Enhancing EHR Systems

Technological advancements like EHRs can make some parts of a physician’s job easier, but if the systems are not designed and used properly, they may not be as effective. According to an AAFP study, burnout prevalence was considerably higher among physicians who used poorly designed EHRs with “27.2 percent of that group reporting one or more burnout symptoms, compared with 13.6 percent of physicians who did not use an EHR.”

EHR systems that are not designed or utilized well can have poor integration into clinical workflows, increase difficulty in using and understanding them, and be time-consuming. It can ultimately become a factor in physician burnout.

According to AMA, five out of 10 studies reported EHR systems interventions successfully improved physician burnout and satisfaction. Interventions that evaluated EHR improvements saw significantly improved physician satisfaction while decreasing burnout and stress.

EHR systems should be designed to help:

In addition, finding the right technology solutions that work with a practice’s EHR system cannot only decrease physician burnout but improve overall workflows as well. For example, when partnering with a virtual care solution provider like Wellbox, our interactions with patients are documented directly into a doctor’s EHR system. This seamless integration saves physicians time and provides them with recent information about their patients that will help in their evaluations and treatments.

 

Related Resource: 3 Critical Reasons to Integrate Your RPM Solutions and EHR

Integrating your RPM solutions and EHR can maximize efficiency while producing positive clinical and financial outcomes. Read more about it in our blog.

 

4) Improving Workflows through Teamwork

Most physicians do not work alone in a practice, and not working efficiently with one’s team can lead to stress and dissatisfaction. Finding the right team members and programs can ensure the well-being of a physician and their practice.

In an AMA report, it was found that improving teamwork through team-based care and increased communication leads to improvements in physician burnout, satisfaction, and stress. It also found that workflows can be improved by expanding duties with other staff members and implementing programs that emphasized better outcomes.

For example, its findings showed that an implemented care team lowered the prevalence of exhaustion and cynicism. This led to a “higher likelihood to recommend the clinic as a place to work and greater feasibility of providing primary care,” according to the report. Staff members also reported being more satisfied with their expanded duties and the practice, helping physicians have a stronger team and deliver better care.

 

5) Partnering for Support

Finding support doesn’t only have to be found within the inside of a practice or an organization. It may be helpful to consider collaborating with a trusted partner. This connects a physician to a team who can seamlessly act as an extension of the practice while avoiding disruption to workflows and maximizing outcomes.

Strategic partnerships can be useful when physicians need more time and improved processes. According to an AVIA study, 69% of providers block daily time for virtual care. Furthermore, 25% of them dedicated specific days to it. Instead of relying entirely on one’s own time to handle tasks such as virtual care, consider expanding the responsibility to a partner that can provide the care and maintain efficiency.

Leveraging partnerships can help reduce the number of tasks that fall on a physician whether it be integrating seamlessly with their EHR, providing more care for patients, or improving daily operations. Physicians are increasingly burning out at a faster rate because of the large number of tasks they must handle. By connecting with a partner that can extend the help and reduce their burdens, physicians can begin to improve their well-being and satisfaction with their work.

 

If you’re interested in a trusted virtual care partnership for your practice and patients, our team can help. Contact us today to get started.