Seven Ways Healthcare Leaders Can Reduce the Cost of Physician Burnout

The fourth pillar of the Quadruple Aim of healthcare is provider satisfaction for an important reason. Nearly all physicians that participated in a 2019 survey about physician dissatisfaction by Geneia LLC agreed that curbing physician burnout is critical and without improved physician work satisfaction there will be a decrease in the quality of the workforce and consequently both the quality and cost of healthcare.

With the trend towards physician group employment increasing, levels of physician burnout among employees is outpacing independent doctors. The Geneia survey was designed to identify workplace solutions to improve physician satisfaction.

The result from the survey of 401 employed physicians indicated that solutions need to address priorities for physicians’ time. Physicians want to get control of how their time is used, improve the amount of quality of time with patients, and to create a workplace that allows them time for basic needs like eating, bathroom breaks, and administrative duties. Overall, there are serious concerns about the way administrative burdens like EHR prior authorization, quality metrics, and health insurance approvals have overwhelmed schedules and reduced the time/care they can offer to patients. All of this is resulting in Physician burnout. Other notable  results from the survey:

  • 84% of physicians said the quality time doctors can spend with patients has reduced in the past 10 years.
  • More than 77% know a physician who is likely to quit practicing medicine in the next 5 years due to burnout.
  • Almost 74% of physicians said the challenges of practicing medicine in today’s hectic environment have caused them to reconsider career options.
  • 83% said they are personally at risk for burnout at some point in their medical career

7 Ways Employers Can Reduce Healthcare Staff Burnout

In addition to improving the efficiency and effectiveness of EHR tasks, here are seven ways for healthcare organizations that employ physicians to help address the growing problem of physician burnout and lower stress in healthcare.

Listen!!!

The employed physicians surveyed agreed there is benefit in adding more purpose, intention, and clarity in physician engagement surveys in the workplace.  Even more important, employers must offer concrete examples how survey results have or will impact change to demonstrate hearing physician perspectives.

Offer Professional Development Opportunities.

90% of physicians want employers to offer professional opportunities for physicians. They believe offering a robust professional development program is a meaningful way for employers to show they care about the professional advancements and satisfaction of their staff members. Note: Physicians do not consider EHR training professional development!

Empower Burnout Action Teams

Employers can empower clinician-staff committees to identify and attack burnout contributors and make operational recommendations to administrators so that those changes can be implemented effectively.

Schedule Breaks

Employers can pay attention to the basic needs of physicians that work long hours. Carving out time for bathroom breaks and making healthy food available near physicians’ offices can be great ways to increase satisfaction. It will help lower healthcare staff stress

Invest in Non Physician Supports

Employers can invest in physician time-savers like scribes – which is a top solution for relieving stress in the workplace – pre-visit planning and pre-visit lab testing, and care team huddles. All of these investments will allow physicians to have more time with patients and let them know that employers truly prioritize clinical time.

Prioritize Patient Facing Time

Employers can consider ways to allow physicians to have more time with patients with complex healthcare needs. While physicians would like more time with all patients, the intensity of feeling to do this is stronger for patients with complex healthcare needs. 97% of surveyed physicians said that it is important for employers to increase the current allocation of time per patient. 

Free Up Physicians’ Time for Better Patient Outcomes with HUCU

Encourage Physician Collegiality

It is important for employers to build team unity to help lower provider stress at the workplace. Anecdotal evidence suggests physicians miss the doctor lounge and informal opportunity it created for collegiality.

Physician Burnout Can be Costly

Why do employers need to consider these solutions to address physician burnout? Because it can cost their practice dearly otherwise. Several studies have shown that physician burnout is costly to doctors, patients, hospitals, and healthcare organizations.

  • Economic Costs: a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine concluded that physician burnout costs the industry between $2.6 billion and $6.3 billion annually with a baseline of around $4.6 billion due to turnover and reduced clinical hours. In simpler words, each employed physician leads to about $7600 in annual burnout costs for their organizations.
  • Patient Safety: Research shows that physician burnout can double the odds of a patient safety incident. Physician burnout is related to a higher risk of patient safety incidents, poorer care, and lower patient satisfaction.
  • Patient Outcomes: with physicians who had higher depersonalization and burnout scores, their patients took much longer time to recover even after the severity of illness and other demographic factors were adjusted according to one study.Patient Satisfaction: In a 2018 Geneia survey, 96% of physicians reported that they have personally experienced or witnessed negative impacts as a result of physician burnout such as cynicism, dissatisfied patients, extreme stress, and lowered empathy for patients.
  • Patient Shortage: physician dissatisfaction is likely to worsen the projected physician shortage. A study by the Association of American Medical Colleges predicts a shortage of nearly 122,000 physicians by 2032. Burned out physicians are more likely to leave clinical practice in advance of retirement.

At the organizational level, strategies such as the ones addressed in this blog can acknowledge the problem and lower stress in healthcare. There is a need to develop targeted interventions, cultivate community at work, and provide resources to promote resilience and self-care. Healthcare systems can also deploy healthcare applications like Hucu.ai that can free up time spent by physicians, doctors and nurses in coordinating care for patients.

HUCU helps Reduce Physicians’ Stress

Hucu is a HIPAA compliant free text messaging application that organizes team members, patients and families in one application to provide care.  Here is how Hucu.ai helps clinicians, physicians and healthcare team members get more done. With Hucu:

  • Organize Providers’ Days by automatically generating real-time prioritized patients’ hot lists.
  • Prioritized Patients’ Hot Lists are further organized by each facility.
  • Streamline Communication Between Providers & Facility Staff by allowing them to communicate in context within each Patient-Channel, with each other in 1-1 Direct Messages & within internal and/or external Groups through Collaboration Channels
  • Timely, Yet Distinctive Notifications when providers and facility staff tag each other, or when the entire Group is tagged, or when no one is tagged.
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