Recent surveys have shown that physician burnout is increasing at an alarming rate. In fact, in the US, career fatigue is more common with doctors than any other career.
A 2019 physician survey from Medscape revealed that 44% of physicians report being burned out, 11% colloquially depressed, and 4% clinically depressed.
The consequences from physician burnout can manifest both physically and psychologically. Physicians experiencing burnout report increase fatigue, inattentiveness, stress, depression, suicidal ideation, and drug and alcohol dependence among other risks. The results can lead to increased mistakes and poorer care for the patients and decreased quality of life for the physician.
Here are 8 tips to minimize physician burnout:
1 – Go back to independent: Physician job satisfaction is directly linked with autonomy. According to the Medscape survey, only 6% of physicians who work in hospitals are satisfied with their current practice situation, compared to 65% of self-employed doctors. Many physicians who have gone back to being independent have done so by employing alternative practice models or ancillary programs.
2 – Minimize third-party interference: The 2019 Physicians Practice – Great American Physician (GAP) Survey revealed that physician’s number one frustration with healthcare was third-party interference. This has come in the form of Meaningful Use and other government regulations, as well as increased administrative paperwork related to value-based quality metrics. Many physicians have been successful in minimizing this externality by offering more cash-based services or switching to a concierge model altogether.
3 – Delegate: One of the factors that physicians report that leads to burnout is keeping up with the ever-increasing documentation that insurance companies require. Much of this stress can be mitigated by utilizing services that increase practice efficiency and lessen the workload for the staff. This would include programs like outsourcing billing or setting up a virtual scribe.
4 – Join an ACO: In contrast to HMOs, ACOs are physician-led so providers can focus on patient’s needs in lieu of insurance company needs. This increased autonomy leads to higher job satisfaction.
ACOs provide an opportunity to collaborate with other healthcare providers and improve the patient experience. In addition, ACOs reduce costs, increase savings, and create a greater reach within provider networks.
5 – Consider locum tenens work: One of the key components of burnout cited by physicians is lack of flexibility in their schedule. One of the hallmarks of Locum Tenens is schedule flexibility.
While Locum Tenens may not work for everyone, for physicians who are able to participate, it can be a worthwhile option. In addition to schedule flexibility, physicians can largely avoid the bureaucracy that is a major cause of stress.
6 – Speak with a physician career coach: Physician career coaches have gained in popularity in recent years. Physician coaches work with stressed or burned-out doctors in person or over the phone. They tend to deal with four areas: leadership skills, major life decisions, disruptive physicians, and physician burnout. A good physician coach can help physicians achieve a new level of clarity and sense of direction towards finding greater career satisfaction.
7 – Make self-care a part of medical professionalism: There is a clear connection between how well physicians take care of themselves and how well patients fare. Physicians need to model the behavior they want patients to follow.
Self-care not only includes physical health, but mental health as well. In addition to regular exercise, physicians can alleviate stress through meditation, taking up a hobby they enjoy, and spending more time with friends and family.
8 – Employ Ancillary Programs: The erosion of trust between patients and physicians has led to disrespect toward physicians, which takes a psychological toll. In 2018, only 34% of the general public told Gallup that they had a positive view of the healthcare industry, compared with 1975, when 80% of the public had confidence in the medical system.
The single biggest factor for this erosion of trust cited by experts is the lack of 1-on-1 time with patients, especially in primary care.
Many practices have turned to ancillary programs as the solution. Ancillary programs allow physicians to offer more services to their patients, so the care is more comprehensive. Plus, the additional revenue generated from ancillary programs affords physicians to spend more time with each patient.
To find out more information about reducing physician burnout, call 888-315-1519, or visit ancillarymedsolutions.com