The U.S. healthcare industry is in the midst of a burnout crisis. According to a recent study conducted by the Mayo Clinic, 63% of physicians reported feeling at least one symptom of burnout in 2022. This is a dramatic jump from a decade ago when only 46% reported burnout. Why this sudden jump in physician stress and burnout? COVID-19 changed the healthcare landscape permanently, leading to physician shortages and a shift to outpatient settings. This “new normal” has become a challenging environment for the physicians who still want to provide quality care to their patients, and it has also created a perfect storm for burnout.
This rise in physician stress and burnout is a problem for numerous reasons. According to JAMA, they lead to higher rates of alcohol abuse and suicidal ideation, for example. The effects of physician burnout are not only detrimental to the physician, however. Patients inevitably feel the effect too: burnout has been shown to lead to a higher rate of medical errors as well as lower patient satisfaction. Moreover, the financial burden that it has on the healthcare system is significant. For instance, The American Medical Association suggests that the cost to replace a single burnt-out physician ranges from $500,000 to $1 million, while Harvard estimates the annual cost of burnout in the U.S. to be $4.6 billion annually.
With statistics like these, it is clear that burnout and stress are a major problem in the medical community. However, there are many steps that can be taken to decrease burnout and improve the mental health of physicians. Digital tools that promote patient engagement are one of the most surefire ways to accomplish this goal. Here are 3 ways patient engagement tools decrease physician stress and burnout in a practice setting!
Eliminate After-hours EHR Documentation
According to a recent study, the average physician spends 10 hours per week completing after-hours EHR documentation. This is a huge amount of time that the physician could be spending elsewhere to improve their overall quality of life. From gaining more time with family to pursuing a hobby, digital tools empower physicians to spend less time at work and more time doing the things they enjoy. With the right digital tool, physicians can complete patient documentation during normal work hours rather than spending their evenings and weekends completing it. Software with real-time EHR updates, auto-generated ICD-10 codes, and diagnostic tools that push data directly into provider notes for review are especially helpful for this purpose.
Less Administrative Burden
A recent survey indicated that 24% of physician’s time in the office is spent on administrative tasks, with two-thirds of the respondents reporting that this negatively affected their ability to deliver high-quality care. Patient engagement tools help reduce this administrative burden by better automating the patient intake process. This is because patients are able to help with the workload themselves by providing all information necessary for their visit ahead of time. By capturing everything from ROS to HPI, a comprehensive digital check-in software automatically populates the appropriate fields in the patient chart, which reduces the number of clicks and redundancies that physicians usually have. This also allows them to spend less time staring at a screen and more time making eye contact with the patient, ultimately improving the patient experience.
A Better Work-life Balance
Telehealth is not only convenient for patients, but it is also beneficial for physicians. Just as patients are able to have a telehealth visit from the comfort of their homes, physicians are able to do the same. This is especially helpful for physicians with long commutes to their practice that increase stress levels and decrease their work-life balance. Telehealth also allows physicians to better optimize their schedules by spending less time per patient visit while still getting the same amount of work done. Experts indicate that the average physician spends 15-20 minutes per in-office patient visit and only 8 minutes per telemedicine visit, which increases efficiency and allows physicians to spend more time preparing for their next patient or even focusing on a personal matter. This in turn reduces burnout and allows physicians to better balance their work and personal lives.
Reducing Physician Stress and Burnout Through DocResponse
DocResponse’s patient intake and clinical documentation software has a clear advantage over most in reducing burnout and stress. This is because it was created for providers and by providers. Designed by board-certified physicians who understand the everyday stresses and inefficiencies of a clinic workflow, they pinpointed ways to reduce them by promoting patient engagement. From customized digital forms to a Harvard-ranked assessment tool, DocResponse is an all-in-one solution that empowers patients to use the solution and become a physician’s “best employee.” Here’s how:
- DocResponse reduces documentation by 70%, reducing administrative burden significantly and eliminating any need for after-hours documentation.
- Customized digital screeners, consent forms, and questionnaires are instantly sent to patients with the click of a button, simplifying and shortening any visit.
- HIPAA-compliant software allows physicians to connect to patients anywhere, giving them more time with family & friends and less time bogged down with long commutes or unnecessary time in the office.
Burnout and stress are serious issues plaguing healthcare today, but by leveraging the power of technology, physicians are able to live their best lives. Learn more about how DocResponse helps physicians by scheduling a demo today!