July 5, 2023

The Physician Burnout Rate Is at an All-Time High

Physician burnout is at an all-time high. Between the challenges associated with COVID-19, poor work-life balance and family responsibilities, time pressures, and electronic health record (EHR) requirements, it’s no wonder physicians are feeling overwhelmed. Fortunately, scheduling software can offer vital support to your providers.

Statistics prove the point

Burnout is a syndrome recognized by the World Health Organization that causes three types of stress: physical, psychological and emotional. Sufferers feel emotionally exhausted, display depersonalization or cynicism, and experience a low sense of accomplishment from the work they do.

A recent study by the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine found that physician burnout reached an all-time high in 2019. In this study, 35-54% of U.S. physicians reported symptoms of burnout. In addition, the rate among medical students and residents was 45-54%, likely due to long work hours and low pay. The study also found that physician burnout was present across all care settings. However, the highest rates were found in specialty practice areas like critical care, neurology, family medicine, internal medicine and emergency medicine.

This is a significant percentage of the physician population, and increased burnout leads to job dissatisfaction, may create safety issues for patients and can ultimately lead to physicians leaving a practice altogether. With this in mind, the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) finds that the U.S. is already facing an all-time high shortage of physicians. Even worse, they predict that by 2033, the U.S. will have between 54,000 and 139,000 fewer physicians than it needs.

Keep in mind too: These numbers are from a 2019 study, prior to the onset of COVID-19. With the additional stress the pandemic adds, the numbers only increase. Physicians are already reporting feeling overworked and unable to keep up with the ever-changing information surrounding the virus.

As such, it is important to take steps to reduce burnout as much as possible to preserve the mental health of your physicians.

Causes of physician burnout

To successfully reduce burnout, you first need to know what specifically causes it. There are many factors that contribute to physician burnout, but the most commonly reported causes include time pressures, family responsibilities and patient demands.

Another key factor is the amount of time physicians spent on bureaucratic tasks and EHR documentation. In fact, nearly a third of physicians claimed that less-demanding work and call schedules (that would help them maintain work-life balance) would drastically reduce their burnout.

Potential interventions – Scheduling software to the rescue

A recent AMA study identified the following areas as ways to impact and decrease burnout:

  • Create a positive work and learning environment.
  • Reduce the time physicians spend on administrative tasks.
  • Provide technology support and investment in research.

While these categories are broad, they can be narrowed down to actionable solutions. One of the most meaningful ways to provide support to your providers is through scheduling.

Physicians often feel powerless when it comes to scheduling, so allowing for more flexibility can go a long way in increasing job satisfaction. After all, not every patient scenario can fit nicely into a 15-minute time block on the schedule. Allowing flexibility for patient appointments can reduce provider stress and increase patient satisfaction by letting physicians spend more time with certain patients.

You can also achieve flexibility in the schedule by giving your physicians access to their schedules remotely and allowing them to make time-off requests as needed. This scheduling model supports your physicians’ family demands and improves work-life balance. Intrigma’s Dashboard feature allows your physicians to see what their day holds at a glance, and you can quickly make changes in time blocks to accommodate patients’ needs.

Besides scheduling software, you can also utilize staff surveys and get staff involved in office protocols. As a result, you can more easily recognize providers as valuable contributors to the workplace. Additionally, providing technology solutions, like simplifying the EHR, can reduce the amount of time physicians spend on clerical tasks and increase the amount of time they spend doing what they love, treating patients.

Physician burnout puts providers and patients at risk. Thus, it’s essential to take the necessary steps to help reduce the risk. To learn more about how scheduling software can reduce physician burnout, contact Intrigma today.