After a minimum of 11 years of schooling between undergraduate studies, medical school, and residency, physicians enter the field with the skills and knowledge necessary for providing care. However, after 11 years of studying and working long shifts to become board certified, physicians aren’t always granted a smooth career. The tumultuous lifestyle of a physician continues throughout his or her career, leading to physician burnout.
Physician burnout is affecting more than 44% of physicians across all specialties, hitting hardest in specialties like emergency medicine, OBGYN, and family physicians. These physicians experience emotional fatigue, cynicism, depersonalization, and a number of psychological effects due to this burnout, suggesting the necessity of a paradigm shift in the healthcare industry.
At Iron Bridge, we know the value that interoperability in healthcare can bring to the industry and know that we can use technology and planning to reduce the high rate of physician burnout. That’s why we’re here to break down three tactics for beginning to tackle the physician burnout epidemic at the source.
Interoperability in Healthcare to Reduce Physician Burnout
How EHR Interoperability in Healthcare Improves Day-to-Day Workflows
The medical field exists at the core of research and technological advancement. Efforts are constantly being made to improve treatments and patient outcomes. But while hospitals are open to change in the way treatment is performed, many are averse to the technological changes that can improve treatment and reduce physician burnout.
Utilizing interoperability in healthcare is a core effort in reducing physician burnout in healthcare systems across the United States. Interoperable EHRs create simple, centralized communications across the healthcare industry - between vendors like hospitals, labs, registries, insurers, and patients themselves - to streamline workflows and the ability to provide high-quality care.
With an interoperable EHR, physicians are able to get simple access to test results, medical records, and more, freeing up time and reducing the frustration related to the technological side of using EHRs. The capabilities of interoperability in EHRs are continuing to expand in an effort to reduce physician burnout, including integration with Uber and Amazon’s Transcribe Medical: a system that allows for enhanced medical transcription.
In other words, interoperability in healthcare streamlines the processes that keep doctors from doing what they do best: caring for patients. Centralized communication and access to information speeds up appointments, reduces frustration with technology, and ensures that physicians have the information they need to provide the best care possible. Your EHR should work as hard as physicians do, which is why it’s time to make EHR integration a priority.
Proper Scheduling & Staffing for Reducing Physician Burnout
Support Your Physicians with Effective Staffing
Staffing each shift at a hospital with enough nurses, physicians assistants, and clinicians isn’t an easy task. During busy days and days with call-offs, extra stress is placed on the entire staff to keep appointments and procedures moving on schedule. This extra stress can mean missed lunch breaks, minimal down-time, and physicians lacking the rest they need to tackle a high volume of cases.
While staffing issues are many times out of the control of hospital administration, managers should acknowledge staffing issues and patterns and adjust to them accordingly. This is an effort to reduce the ‘lone ranger mentality’ that many physicians possess and move physicians into a realm in which they are only performing doctor duties. This separates the physician from administrative and bureaucratic duties and provides them with the support they need to maintain a healthy and effective work ethic over time.
While proper staffing may introduce an initial challenge from an HR standpoint, making effort to hire additional physician assistants, medical scribes, and support staff can help increase physician retention rates and reduce burnout, creating lasting value for the hospital over time.
Promote & Support Physician Wellness Programs
Beyond Interoperability in Healthcare, Ensure Physicians are Cared for Too
Physician burnout not only leads to work-related distress and changes but can majorly impact the personal lives of the physicians. Personal consequences of physician burnout include depression, anxiety, detriments to personal relationships, drug and alcohol abuse, and thoughts of suicide. It’s imperative to not overlook the needs of those providing care, which is why promoting and supporting the wellness of physicians is a key aspect of decreasing physician burnout.
Physicians are in need of mental health and behavioral health services that are accessible and perhaps required as a part of the job. Taking the time to schedule in bi-weekly counseling as a part of the physician compensation package can help clinicians express grievances and stress in a healthy way. Additionally, giving physicians the time to talk about their symptoms of burnout can help bring important issues to the table to be acted upon from an administrative level.
This inspires the need for a peer wellness panel, in which physicians themselves work to create a healthier, more supportive workplace. This group of physicians can identify issues within the workplace and is supported by management to place initiatives that keep doctors healthy and reduces burnout rates. From implementing retreats, creating wellness agendas, and creating regular assessments of burnout symptoms, hospitals can be proactive in their efforts at reducing burnout and increasing physician wellness.
It’s time to make sure your EHR is working as hard as your clinicians do. Get in touch with the team at Iron Bridge today to explore how interoperability in healthcare can help you.