“Physician Burnout syndrome” is a real condition in which fatigue, cynicism, and professional inefficacy associated with work-related stress becomes overwhelming and debilitating, according to the Association for Psychological Science. While some level of stress is expected, particularly in the medical field, at some point these stressors can become overbearing, leading some physicians to contemplate leaving the profession or worse.
Physicians are the ones on the front lines of patient care. While other types of professional burnout can be devastating, this is particularly true of doctors because they tend to suffer it more severely. According to Definitive Healthcare, physician burnout manifests itself in many ways, such as:
- Lack of enthusiasm for work
- Growing cynicism about patients or career
- Low sense of self-worth
As a result, these feelings can lead to poor job performance, abandonment of the profession, and in rare cases even suicide. Healthcare researchers are trying to pinpoint the root causes and manage this physician burnout at the organizational level. Some types of physicians experience more burnout than others. Those in critical care experience the highest, followed by emergency medicine, family medicine, internal medicine and general surgery.
The Patient Side
Burnout doesn’t just affect the doctor, but the patient as well. That’s because this condition can negatively impact a doctor’s mental state and career, leading to a decrease in patient care quality. Not only are higher rates of medical errors reported in those with burnout, patient access, and overall experience are negatively impacted. Physicians suffering from burnout say that they are quick to cut down on office hours and even respond in a negative or clipped manner when interacting with patients.
Causes of Physician Burnout
The causes of physician burnout are highly individualized, and many doctors feel multiple sources of burnout. Medscape says the following are the top causes for physician burnout, in order of importance:
- Too many bureaucratic tasks
- Too many hours at work
- Not enough income
- Increasing computerization of practice
- Impact of Affordable Care Act
- Difficult patients
- Too many appointments daily
- Lack of professional fulfillment
- Difficult colleagues or staff
- Inability to keep up with current research
Also included in the Medscape report is that women (51%) experience burnout more often than men (43%) and those between age 46 and 55 are most likely to experience burnout. Physicians that are burned out report not exercising as much as they should, with low motivational levels. Sometimes, volunteering, doing mission work, or working with church groups adds to the stress of their lives rather than relieves it. A third of burned out physicians say they have minimal savings compounded by unmanageable debt.
In many cases, physicians reported feeling overwhelmed with administrative tasks that detract from their ability to spend time with their patients. Research shows the average physician spends two hours on administrative tasks for every hour that they interact with patients.
One way to mitigate this is to make office tasks more streamlined. Instead of handling billing issues, which can suck up a large portion of a doctor’s day, outsourcing this to a medical billing provider would be a better use of time. By decreasing time spent on mundane tasks, the physician is freed up to spend more quality time with each patient. This can take away a bit of the stress that so often overwhelms physicians on a daily basis.
Contact Medical Healthcare Solutions
We can help. From mobile medical billing solutions to revenue cycle management, Medical Healthcare Solutions can help physicians reduce their chances of burnout by handling the time-consuming tasks of running a practice. Contact us at 800-762-9800 or fill out our convenient online form.