Physician Burnout in the Age of Digitized Healthcare
When athletes feel the burn, they know that they’re in their peak performance zone. When physicians feel the burn, it’s cause for worry. Today, physician burnout is on the rise, due in part to feeling burdened and stressed by the digitization of the healthcare delivery system.
Eight years ago, less than five percent of medical practices utilized soup-to-nuts electronic health records (EHR). Thanks to federal financial incentives from the 2009 stimulus package and the prospect of 2015 Medicare reimbursement penalties for not jumping on the electronic bandwagon, EHR use has ramped up to 80 percent. Yet a study recently published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings found a correlation between physician burnout and the use of both EHR and computerized physician order entry (CPOE). Study participants were generally dissatisfied with the clerical burden associated with the electronic environment, but even physicians who weren’t necessarily frustrated with EHRs and CPOEs still exhibited a higher risk for burnout than those who didn’t utilize the tools.
Interestingly, ER doctors, urologic surgeons, and family medicine practitioners felt that clerical tasks posed the greatest burden and were the most burned out, while those in pediatrics, occupational medicine, and radiation oncology felt the least burden and were the least burned out.
The prevalence of burnout was echoed in a June survey of physicians that was conducted on behalf of a midsize hospital. Fully 89 percent of respondents indicated that they knew someone who was dealing with burnout issues. The survey’s free form response section highlighted the perceptions that arise as a result of EHR and CPOE use. For example, one physician protested strategies that shift what he termed “data entry tasks” onto doctors. “The changes have substantially reduced the time and quality of doctor-patient interaction, increased stress, reduced productivity, and harming physicians and their families,” he wrote. Another advocated raising “thoughtful alternatives to box-checking redundancy,” while a third asked for “real change within the inpatient and outpatient realms to allow for meaningful doctor-patient interactions and less time on the computer and other secretarial tasks.”
While EHR and CPOE aren’t going anywhere, hospital and medical practice administrators can implement other digital solutions that increase physician engagement and satisfaction. To that end, MDsyncNET delivers eight cloud-based modules that streamline communication designed to help staff and physicians while supporting the bottom line. For example, our Broadcast module enables medical services staff members to instantly notify doctors about urgent matters, such as meeting cancellations, scheduling changes, and pharmacy drug shortages. MDsyncNET’s Medical Staff Services module provides a single point of access to calendars, department lists, and relevant documents. Our On-Call Scheduling Software module enables you to have a central, synchronized schedule that’s both accurate and efficient, and that physicians can access from any web browser.
Just as top-tier athletes need the proper equipment to reach peak performance, physicians need intuitive tools that enable them to engage with both their patients and their organizations. MDsyncNET liberates doctors from humdrum administrivia and delivers a streamlined system that supports productivity and increases satisfaction.