One of today’s biggest public health threats isn’t something that physicians can treat in patients—that’s because, in this case, doctors are the ones in jeopardy.
A work-related malady, physician burnout can negatively impact a patient’s care, the physician’s health and healthcare systems operations as a whole. A 2018 study from the Journal of Internal Medicine even acknowledged that physician burnout has become something of a public health crisis, affecting more than half of practicing physicians.
Back in 2015, a Mayo Clinic study also found that more than 50 percent of physicians experience professional burnout. In fact, physicians have the highest suicide rate of any profession, over twice that of the general population. In a profession marked by rigorous training and grueling hours, this trend may not seem surprising. Yet a top contributing factor to burnout has nothing to do with patient care or long days, it has to do with technology.
The electronic health record system (EHR) is a chief culprit of this burnout crisis. According to a Let Doctors Be Doctors survey, EHRs contribute to burnout in one in five physicians. Other factors include inefficiencies in the workplace and the growing complexity of healthcare, both of which can be linked to a cumbersome EHR system.
The most draining part of a physician’s job is performing bureaucratic and administrative tasks, reports the Advisory Board. Physicians derive job satisfaction from treating patients effectively and efficiently. But administrative work such as data entry, searching for electronic files and typing notes can take up hours of the workday. Some doctors spend up to two hours on EHRs—many of them at home after-hours— for every one hour with a patient.
Physician burnout leads to poorer performance in the clinical setting, which in turn can lead to a drop in patient safety and quality of care. EHR has the potential to streamline healthcare in powerful ways, but until technological advancements are made and better training is instituted, today’s technology requirements can continue to frustrate and exhaust physicians.
For Mental Health Awareness Month, it’s useful to consider what mental health challenges impact healthcare professionals—and how to address them.
While EHR should, in the long run, make patient care more streamlined, the advent of EHR has resulted in growing pains. Like any new system, especially one dependent on technology, users have to endure a learning curve.
One of the key ways to improve EHR satisfaction among physicians is for hospitals and clinics to provide better training, especially following an initial go-live or the onboarding of new hires. In-person training and continuing education around EHRs to support physician understanding and application. If doctors’ abilities advance at the same rate as EHR technology, the entire system will see a marked improvement in efficiency.
In addition, leveraging state-of-the-art technology to perform grueling tasks such as data entry will also alleviate EHR pain points. John Hopkins, for example, is implementing speech recognition software to allow doctors to dictate patient data rather than manually entering it into a computer.
With a focus on user training, EHR advancement and harnessing new sophisticated technologies, hospitals and clinics can stop the burnout trend among their most valuable asset: physicians.
Combat physician burnout at your healthcare facility today. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1.800.383.6278 to speak with one of our specialists about how our streamlined technology and all-in-one services can help.