When a flashlight’s battery goes out, what happens? It turns off. It essentially stops working. Now what if I ask you the same question about a physician? Do they just turn off and stop working? As a physician, when have you ever stopped working? The answer is likely never.
It’s a known fact the healthcare environment – with its long hours, regulatory pressures, quality expectations, and demanding pace – can quickly lead to physician burnout.
As defined by the American Medical Association (AMA), “burnout is a long term stress reaction characterized by depersonalization, emotional exhaustion, and a feeling of decreased personal achievement.”
Physician burnout not only takes a toll on the provider, but their patients and practices as well. This stressful state can have adverse effects on career satisfaction causing providers to leave a practice they once treasured, and can also negatively impact the quality of patient care.
This is an epidemic across the nation and nothing proves the seriousness of this than what is being called “The Drop Out Club”. This “club” is an online networking platform that's helping doctors find careers outside of medicine. The group’s origin and purpose is to help providers who loved treating patients, but felt encumbered by the administrative and regulatory burdens associated with their role and wished to pursue another career. Still not convinced this is a pervasive problem? Then let me share a very frightening statistic: nearly two thirds of providers feel that burnout pushes them to consider leaving medicine.
The causes of burnout are many, however, the overarching concept behind each reason remains the same: an increase in provider burden. Increased requirements for data capture for numerous purposes such as regulatory, quality, and reimbursement are often the reasons for an increase in physician workload. External forces, such as these requirements, often depend on entry into an electronic health record (EHR) and can become the center of blame.
I recently attended NextGen’s User Group Meeting in Las Vegas, where President and CEO Rusty Frantz addressed this calamity in his opening keynote speech. He stated there is a wave of burnout in the healthcare industry and as a result over 80% of physicians are currently feeling overextended. Frantz promised over $20 million would be spent on provider satisfaction next year to “help providers do what they do best”. The meeting’s ever-present theme was “Believe in Better” and in his speech Frantz emphatically stated, “better is about enabling provider success”.
I challenge you to think about your role and what is/could cause you to feel burnout. Is there anything you can do now to alleviate this stressor? Perhaps it’s a specific workflow that causes you headache—is there a more efficient alternative, or a quick configuration change that could help? Perhaps it’s the low-level fear of seeing patients during a natural disaster that constantly weighs on you--take time now to make a disaster recovery plan. No matter what the stressor, we want to help.
At Itentive, we understand physician burnout is a crisis in healthcare. We believe it is not acceptable for providers to want to leave medicine because of administrative and regulatory burdens. We are constantly looking at ways we can ease the provider burden not only with the NextGen application, but with other practice operations to let them get back to what they do best, caring for patients. We agree with Rusty, we want to make it better. We need to make this better, and with your feedback we can. Tell us what can be done to alleviate stressors in your practice—we’re listening.
- Lindsey Lanning, Healthcare Compliance Consultant at Itentive Healthcare Solutions