Physician burnout is becoming a major problem for the healthcare industry. Commonly characterized by exhaustion or boredom as a result of growing challenges in delivering care, physicians experiencing burnout can also suffer from emotional fatigue, lack of personalization, and a lack of satisfaction with their jobs.
Nationwide, physician burnout is an issue at 83% of healthcare organizations and is conservatively estimated to cost the healthcare industry some $4.6 billion each year from a combination of turnover and fewer clinical hours worked. On a more granular level, that equates to about $7,600 per physician.
In addition to the financial impact, as it can in any industry, burnout can increase turnover. That leaves even fewer physicians to handle patient loads for an industry already facing a physician shortage. The additional workload can increase the likelihood those remaining physicians will also experience burnout, creating a dangerous cycle that can impact the entire system, from providers to patients.
The combination of burnout, a shortage of healthcare professionals, a growing elderly population and chronic care needs, will inevitably cause a reduction in the quality of patient care.
To deal with these challenges, the healthcare ecosystem must seek ways to improve healthcare processes, including improving the efficiency of care to be able to effectively manage more patients with available resources. The healthcare community can look to technology to relieve the growing burden and ensure quality outcomes for the foreseeable future and is already doing so.
Electronic health records (EHR) are a step in the right direction, but current processes are requiring physicians and staff to spend time manually inputting data into EHRs, taking time away from their ability to see patients. Connected health technologies, however, can help reverse the trend and reduce physician burnout, thus helping them increase the care levels they are able to provide their patients.
Connected Devices and Patient Data
Services like remote patient monitoring have the potential to increase the efficiency and accuracy of patient data collection. Because RPM devices are able to collect patient data at home – or anywhere patients may be – there is a reduced burden on healthcare providers because patients do not have to visit practice locations each time. In addition, RPM devices are able to collect data at regular intervals – much more frequently than patients can be expected to go to their physicians’ offices – increasing the volume of data that is collected. Importantly, this data can be automatically input into patient records, taking away that task from physicians and staff. Bigger data sets also provide more information to make highly informed decisions to positively impact patient conditions.
Similarly, connected devices used by physicians in their offices can be used to directly input patient data into electronic records, eliminating that step for office visits as well.
Patient portals can be a key resource for both patients and physicians. Patients are able to directly enter information into their portals, from important medical histories to changes in health conditions to readings from devices that do not automatically submit data into patient records. This saves time for physicians and staff, allowing them to tend to other activities. It also naturally increases patient engagement, which can lead to greater health awareness and the longer term impact of better health.
In addition to simply collecting more data thanks to connected digital health devices, connected health solutions can leverage artificial intelligence to reduce the analytics work physicians are tasked with. AI and machine learning engines are able to sort through masses of patient data to look for potential concerns, but also to determine the best treatment options. Physicians, on the other hand, are able to spend their time working directly with patients discussing their conditions and treatments, rather than being forced to spend more time in front of screens seeking answers.
Scheduling and Reminders
Automated scheduling and reminder systems can reduce missed appointments, which not only create additional work for physicians and staff, but also take away opportunities for other. By reducing the rate of missed appointments, healthcare providers are able to reduce wasted time and maximize physicians’ time in the office caring for patients. In addition, by enabling patients to manage scheduling using automated platforms, connected health solutions allow staff to focus their energies on other tasks and to reduce the administrative activities that have fallen to physicians.
Doctors get into their professions for a reason – they want to help people. Unfortunately, the current system has become bogged down with regulatory and administrative tasks, taking away from patient face-time and making it hard to deliver the results doctors want to give, increasing their stress levels and creating burnout. The efficiency gains that connected health solutions can deliver may help reverse that trend by reducing the administrative burden on physicians and helping them get back to their core functions – taking care of patients.
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