More Voices Join the Physician Burnout Chorus
Last week, a report from the Massachusetts Medical Society, the Massachusetts Health & Hospital Association and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health revealed alarming levels of physician burnout in the U.S., which portends a new public health crisis that may affect the delivery of patient care nationwide.
The report highlights how physician burnout can impact patient satisfaction, increase medical errors, and trigger an exodus from the profession. The researchers who authored the paper reviewed dozens of studies to develop their position, which concludes with a call to arms for healthcare providers, health technology companies, insurers and government agencies to address the problem.
In particular, the report points a finger at the role electronic health records (EHR) play in this crisis. For every hour doctors spend with patients, they spend an estimated two more on their computer completing administrative tasks to comply with EHR requirements. It underscores the need for hospital leaders to adopt innovative technology – PatientKeeper’s EHR optimization solutions are one example — that gives doctors some time back so they can focus less on data entry and more on the care they deliver to their patients.
Of course, it’s not just about technology. A number of other factors – increased financial pressures, higher patient volumes, and a daunting level of medical research and news to keep up with – contribute to this unprecedented and worrisome level of burnout among physicians. The inescapable conclusion is it’s now critical to change the culture within hospitals and empower physicians to, once again, be physicians. We must ensure a healthcare environment that prioritizes thoughtful, well-considered care, that optimizes the patient experience, and that alleviates unnecessary administrative burdens for physicians. In this way, we can help to reduce the frequency and intensity of physician burnout across the U.S. Changes must be made now to ensure the overall vitality of the American healthcare system going forward.