In the modern healthcare landscape, physician burnout has emerged as a critical issue, with recent reports from the American Medical Association (AMA) highlighting alarmingly high rates in various specialties. This blog post delves into the roots of this problem and explores how technological solutions like HITEKS can play a pivotal role in addressing it.
For the most stressful medical job in 2022, the highest percentages of burnout occurred among six physician specialties:
- Emergency medicine: 62%
- Hospital medicine: 59%
- Family medicine: 58%
- Pediatrics: 55%
- Obstetrics and gynecology: 54%
- Internal medicine: 52%
Meanwhile, just 52% of pediatrician respondents reported feeling valued by their organization. The other top five specialties all fell below 50% on that metric. Only 40% of ob-gyns said they felt valued by their organization.
At Dayton Children’s Hospital, 36% of pediatricians reported burnout, which is about 20 percentage points lower than the pediatric benchmark. Here is how they reduced burnout and improved job satisfaction among pediatricians who face different stressors and challenges now that the COVID-19 federal public health emergency has ended.
- Remove administrative burdens: Dayton Children’s Hospital removed the task of reverification of Medicaid patients from the pediatricians, freeing up their time substantially. In other blog article we wrote references a Deloitte study, talks about how the average physician spends about 30 hours per week on nonclinical tasks — an increase of over 50 percent since 2011. The study also found that physicians spend more than twice as much time on documentation as they did 10 years ago. That’s not surprising given that most physicians are employed by large ($Billion revenues annually) hospital systems, and are required by contract to spend their time within the EHRs administrative and clinical tasks, which require more documentation than ever before.
- Make small changes to free up time: Regarding the workload related to Electronic Health Records (EHR), at Dayton Children’s Hospital, half of the pediatricians indicated they spent between zero and two hours on EHR tasks outside of their regular work hours. In contrast, in the AMA benchmark survey, only 29% of pediatricians reported spending such a minimal amount of time on EHR activities outside of their work hours. Their Chief Medical Information Officer and clinical informatics team worked closely together to implement EHR processes that “make sense” such as inbox messaging, regulatory compliance issues, and dual verification on on outpatient prescriptions.
- Offer recognition and appreciation: At Dayton Children’s Hospital, about 66% of pediatricians feel valued, a higher percentage compared to the 55% benchmark in pediatrics. Dr. Sean Antosh, a pediatric anesthesiologist and the chief medical wellness and engagement officer at Dayton Children’s Hospital in Ohio, emphasizes the importance of making staff feel appreciated and valued. To achieve this, the hospital collaborates with the marketing team to implement various recognition initiatives. One such initiative is a peer-to-peer internal recognition software program that allows for easy sending of kudos. Another is an awards system tied to its core values. Staff members nominate their peers for these awards, and the winners are selected by their colleagues.
- Increase sense of connection: They organized collective events aimed at strengthening the sense of unity and fellowship among physicians, fostering a spirit of camaraderie and enhancing the sense of purpose in their work.
- Survey to find focus areas: A data-driven approach can help drill down into specific divisions of the organization to uncover burnout to be able to address those stressors.
Understanding Physician Burnout
Physician burnout is a state of emotional, mental, and often physical exhaustion caused by prolonged stress and overwork in the healthcare environment. Generally speaking, burnout is a job-related stress syndrome resulting in emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and reduced personal accomplishment.
An article from the New York Times cited that burnout among physicians has been linked to higher rates of alcohol abuse and suicidal ideation, as well as increased medical errors and worse patient outcomes.
The AMA’s recent findings show that specialties such as Emergency Medicine, Hospital Medicine, and Family Medicine are experiencing burnout rates as high as 62%. This not only impacts the well-being of the physicians but also the quality of patient care they provide.
Physician Burnout: Contributing Factors
But what are reason or causes of physician burnout?
The rise in physician burnout can likely be attributed to a combination of new challenges and the exacerbation of existing ones. The overwhelming number of messages doctors receive regarding patients’ electronic health records (EHR) was already a significant factor in burnout prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. This issue has been further amplified post-pandemic, with a notable 157 percent increase in the volume of patient messages received in physicians’ In Baskets, a secure healthcare communication system.
Several factors contribute to physician burnout:
- Excessive Workload: Long hours and a high volume of patients can lead to physical and emotional exhaustion.
- Administrative Burdens: Extensive paperwork and documentation requirements add to the workload, leaving less time for patient care.
- Lack of Work-Life Balance: The demanding nature of the job often leads to an imbalance between professional and personal life.
- Emotional Stress: Dealing with patient suffering and high-stakes decision-making can be emotionally draining.
HITEKS: Streamlining Physician Workflows
What are we doing about this? HITEKS was founded by physicians who always kept workflows in mind. HITEKS CAPD360 Insight™ for Epic NoteReader CDI, our flagship technology solution, is designed to streamline clinical workflows and reduce the administrative burden on physicians. By integrating directly and natively into Epic EHIR, HITEKS offers several unique benefits for physicians and CDI specialists that streamline workflows:
- Physician-Centric Architecture: Fully integrated within Epic, offering a seamless experience.
- Real-Time Physician Query Notification: Alerts during note writing within the EHR workflow.
- Advanced Query Logic: Combines rules-based and ML probabilistic approaches for compliance and reduced false positives.
- Customizable CDI Queries: New queries tailored to each hospital system can be implemented swiftly.
- Real-Time CDI Suggestions/Queries: Provided during note editing, avoiding documentation change flags.
- CDI Centric Workflows and Controls: Integrated within Epic EHR for streamlined operations.
- Revenue Integrity and Quality Impact Reporting: Comprehensive dashboards with detailed insights at various levels.
- Cost-Effective Technology: Balances the cost of technology and services with revenue impact through DRG shift or risk adjustment increase.
- Time Efficiency: Saves time for Providers, CDI Specialists, and Coders in optimizing revenue and quality integrity.
These features collectively contribute to a more efficient, compliant, and productive healthcare environment, directly addressing factors that can lead to physician burnout.
- Efficiency in Documentation: Automates and simplifies the process of note-taking and record-keeping.
- Reduced Administrative Work: Lessens the time physicians spend on paperwork, allowing more focus on patient care.
- Enhanced Accuracy: Improves the precision of clinical documentation, leading to better patient outcomes.
The Road Ahead
The battle against physician burnout is multifaceted, requiring a combination of policy changes, institutional support, and technological innovation. HITEKS’ technology represents a significant step forward in this fight, offering a practical solution that benefits both pediatric and other healthcare providers and patients. As we move forward, it’s essential to continue exploring and implementing such innovations to create a sustainable and efficient healthcare system.