Physicians and healthcare organizations bear the high costs of burnout. It is no longer a problem that can be ignored or addressed on an individual level. Physician burnout is not only dangerous for physicians and the patients they treat, but it is also an economic drain.
Economic Cost of Burnout
The Annals of Internal Medicine conducted a study to calculate burnout-related costs. The costs of physician turnover and reduced clinical hours that are attributed to burnout amounts to $4.6 billion per year. At the organizational level, it costs $7600 per employed physician per year.
The authors of the study wanted to calculate the economic costs that physician burnout has on the healthcare system as a whole in order to encourage healthcare leaders to address it on a system level. Often, physician burnout is addressed on an individual level. While helping out individual physicians struggling with burnout is a good thing, it does not help address the underlying problems.
To address the root causes of burnout, let’s first define the problem.
Defining Physician Burnout
Burnout is defined by symptoms of emotional exhaustion, feelings of cynicism and a detachment from work, and a low sense of personal accomplishment. These symptoms can lead to physician turnover or reduced clinical hours. An editorial accompanying the study of the economic affects of burnout had this to say:
“Beyond the anxiety, depression, insomnia, emotional and physical exhaustion, and loss of cognitive focus associated with physician burnout, an estimated 300 to 400 U.S. physicians take their own lives every year. That number is higher than the suicide rate for the general public by 40% for men and an astonishing 130% for women.”
While thPhysician burnout is a serious concern for the medical community, and for the general public.
Causes of Physician Burnout
There are many different causes associated with physician burnout, and the impact that they have on an individual physician can vary based on the phase of their career. For example, an inability to resolve work-life conflict has a greater impact on physicians earlier in their career and can lead to burnout. For physicians in the middle of their career, it is the long hours, frequent call, frustration with the administrative burden, and reimbursement issues that have the greatest impact.
A study by the AMA revealed the following as indicators of physician satisfaction:
- Use of EHRs
- Perception of ability to provide quality care
- Autonomy and control of work
- Practice leadership
- Fairness and respect
- Quantity and pace of work
- Regulatory and professional liability concerns
- Work content
EHRs and Physician Burnout
Physician burnout is often attributed to the increased administrative burden placed on doctors, and EHRs that were not designed with physicians in mind. As listed above, the top two indicators of physician satisfaction are their EHR usage, and the perception they have of their ability to provide quality care. It can often seem like EHRs actually prevent physicians from providing quality care.
Doctors used to have the entire patient exam to focus completely on treating that person. There were no distractions, and they did not doubt their ability to provide quality care in that appointment. Now, face-to-face patient time is getting squeezed out on both sides of the exam, and it is due to EHR interactions.
On the back end, physicians are expected to document far more than they used to. The heavy documentation burden that physicians face today is one of the contributors to physician burnout.
On the front end, physicians spend time digging through the “note bloat” in the EHR to find the patient data that they need. When EHRs were designed, no one asked physicians how they needed to view their data. As a result, it is difficult to find and cognitively process. This prevents physicians from easily preparing for patient exams.
What Physicians Want
AccelaVIEW is the answer to the problem of finding patient data on the front-end of the patient exam. Doctors get to design their own patient data screen, selecting the data that they know they need on a regular basis. Everything you need to see is easy to view on one page, and put together in a visually appealing, easy to comprehend format. Best of all, it works with your existing EHR. There’s no need to switch vendors to improve your EHR user experience.
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