With the growing complexity of the healthcare industry, practicing physicians are seeing an unavoidable rise in required reporting and administrative tasks. At the same time, the increasing financial burden of maintaining a viable practice weighs heavily on providers. These mounting pressures cause high levels of stress, frustration, and fatigue, leading to physician burnout.
Research shows that burnout can be a chronic condition, with only a third of physicians fully recovering from serious cases of burnout after five to 10 years.[i] In addition to causing stress and unhappiness, burnout also leads to unnecessary mistakes and malpractice risks. If proper steps are not taken to prevent these problems, burnout will ultimately drive physicians away from medicine, causing a shortage of skilled doctors in the workforce.
To combat physician burnout, healthcare groups and independent practices should consider adding a “Fourth Goal” to the Triple Aim of Healthcare. In addition to lowering healthcare costs and improving population health and patient experience, healthcare organizations must focus on improving physician satisfaction.
Changes need to take place at the organizational level to improve physician mental wellness. Physician groups and independent practices should look for changes that require low physician commitment, in addition to any day-to-day improvements individual physicians make on their own.
To create a happy, effective work environment, all healthcare organizations should aim to lessen administrative burdens, while directing staff to practice at the top of their licensure. In addition to improving workflows, healthcare organizations can also:
1. Offer resources for dealing with the emotional stress of practicing medicine.
2. Encourage the use of vacation and personal time off.
3. Provide methods of improving communication and management skills to better coordinate with nurses and administrative staff.
Yet, these are only a few of the many steps organizations can take to improve the mental wellness of their physicians. For a full list of ways to reduce physician burnout, click here to download Continuum's Burnout Treatment infographic. This infographic details actionable steps to create healthier and more positive work environments for physician practices.
Burnout stems from high stress and high demand on a physician’s time. Healthcare organizations and independent physicians may also want to consider outsourcing administrative burdens to an outside expert for additional support. Alleviating unnecessary tasks liberates physicians to return to their true calling: caring for patients.