Taking care of patients is a complex process. Being a doctor is stressful emotionally. There’s a perception that doctors are superhuman. As a doctor, they’re expected to be perfect. They can’t make mistakes because a mistake could mean someone’s life. While they wear the MD with pride, it comes with certain responsibilities that they have to live up to. They’re unsung heroes who touch so many peoples’ lives. What they do matters.
The burnout prevalence rates continue to increase with no apparent end to this disturbing trend. Over the last 3 years, physician burnout has jumped from 45% to 54%, according to a recent study from the University of California. This boost indicates a serious issue in the industry. Physician burnout is a symptom of a larger problem – a healthcare system that increasingly overworks doctors and undervalues the health needs of their own. It is also costly. Burnout is associated with higher rates of major medical errors, intention to leave practice, and higher turnover rates.
Contributors to burnout among physicians
- Changes in how they practice medicine
- Rising operating costs
- Increasing burdens with administrative requirements
- Growing demands from patients
So, can doctors do anything to prevent burnout? The answer lies in the power of decision. Avoiding burnout is a planned choice. It takes efforts to not to take stress, it needs efforts to plan for avoiding burnout. If doctors want to see real change in their profession, they have to be willing to take that first step.
How to combat Burnout
Understanding the factors known to predict physician burnout and implementing interventions can help prevent and reduce the condition, which affects more than half of physicians. We need to understand what is causing burnout – it’s too easy to blame technology or overwork. When we really dig into it, words like isolation and support come up a lot. So, how do organizations listen to physician voices about the moment of care and understand what they actually need in it? How do we make sure that we develop team-based care?
It all starts with finding out what’s going on. We ought to be focused on identifying and giving physicians the resources they need and allowing them, wherever possible, whether by technology or through the design of care teams to be at the top of their practice.
What physicians need to do
Physicians need to delegate paperwork and clerical work, and get back to what they do the best – ‘doctor work’, focusing their time and attention on caring for patients. All they need to do is to take advantage of technologies and tools like optimized EHRs, virtual scribing, and AI. That’s going to be really helpful when it comes to physician wellness. Streamlining office duties with a comprehensive practice management system can greatly decrease stress levels associated with the day-to-day hassles of running a practice.
Technologies that are helping to solve Burnout and not adding to it
While the issue of physician burnout is an ever-changing complex challenge, technology continues to create new ways for us to address it, head on. Here are five ways that technology is already helping to relieve providers and reshape the healthcare system for the better:
- Voice commands within the EHR to help them navigate and eliminate clicks, providing a seamless experience
- NLP (natural language processing) enabled software can successfully automate the documentation process, easing the burden on providers and improving the digitized medical record system in place.
- Telemedicine gives physicians more freedom in the way they practice medicine and helps them in achieving work-life balance
- Informational emails, automated appointment reminder texts, and push notifications to help to save time, money and reduce stress while they stay connected
- Resources like apps and websites help guide patients to the appropriate channel of care and reduce the dependence on physicians alone
That’s the benefit of what the right technology can offer physicians, nurses and administrative staff. It enables them to focus their time and energy on meaningful patient interactions and improve their overall care experience.
The Future of Healthcare
The future of healthcare promises to bring back the joy of medicine. Integrating emerging technologies with the digitization of health records, providers will be able to better assess their patients’ health and deliver comprehensive care. The process of digitalization of healthcare will lead to more automation, personalization and better connectivity leading to better outcomes and fewer frustrations.