21 Feb, 2018

How Can Hospitals Reduce Physician Burnout Rates?


If you are a patient seeking care in the healthcare industry, you are relying on physicians to diagnose and treat the problems that are affecting your overall well being. You rely on these people, take their advice and gain knowledge that will ultimately benefit your overall wellbeing. Since you rely upon and trust these people, most patients would agree that making sure their physician’s mental health is in a healthy state. If your doctor was going through a burnout period, would you still trust them?

Well, that question is one that holds a significance for all parties in the industry. Another question, that may be a good starting point, begins with inquiring just how many doctors are not healthy, especially mentally. Thanks to Medscape’s latest survey, we gain first-hand insight into minds of doctors.

“Regulatory and administrative burdens associated with various health reform initiatives are taking their toll on physicians. Physicians are more frequently reporting they are burnt out and dissatisfied at work.” Healthcare Dive reports.

Physician Burnout Rate Is High

According to the survey, 42% of physicians feel burnt out. 15% of physicians experience feelings of depression. These rates were found the most among physicians, intensivists, internists, neurologists, and OBGYNs.

“Burnout rates were higher among women (48% vs. 38% for men). As to be expected, burnout rates climbed while advancing up through age groups/career points with physicians ages 45-50 experiencing the highest rate of burnout (50%).” Healthcare Dive reports.

Understanding the numbers behind burnout rates is just the beginning. The next step is trying to understand why they feel burnt out, in order to find the cause, so there can be a potential solution. Most physicians reported that an increased amount of work with no change in pay has been one of the causes of the feeling of being burnt out, whereas another reason is an unmanageable work schedule.

The Effect Of Physician Burnout

As a doctor, being constantly on top of records, patient engagement, and proper diagnosis is all part of factors that make your role so important and effective. When a physician is burnt out, these traits can diminish, resulting in negative outcomes for patients and physician performance.

According to the survey, one in three depressed physicians are more irritated and exasperated by patients, 32% said that this causes them to be less engaging and 29% admit to being less friendly to patients. Which, results in an overall negative patient experience, which can negatively impact relationships moving forward in the healthcare scope.

“Nearly 15% admitted that their depression might cause them to make errors they wouldn’t ordinarily make, and 5% linked it to errors they had made that could have harmed a patient.” Healthcare Dive reports.

The Solution Is Wellness

Healthcare organizations are seeking to reduce the rate of physician burnout, in order to make sure that environments in this industry are safe and can offer both patient and physician the utmost quality of care and experiences. Not only that, but the rate of physician shortages will rise if the burnout percentage remains.

Creating a new role that centers around wellness is the next step for the healthcare industry. A chief wellness officer has the potential to be the future of healthcare.

“The idea of CWOs aligns with the shift toward value-based, patient-centric care. Hospitals are trying to differentiate themselves culturally while they manage cost and risk. And there’s growth in self-insured plans and the overall societal thrust toward wellness.” Healthcare Dive reports.

Chief wellness officers work to make sure that physicians are healthy and also present effective ways to achieve this goal. CWOs work to decrease the level of emotional exhaustion that physicians may feel during the course of their everyday functions. Simply engaging with these physicians, and offering a stress management program has been proven effective among professionals.

Along with stress management programs and taking physician’s vitals regularly, hospitals who are pushing these initiatives have also limited sugary food products throughout the environment, as well as making fitness programs free for employees. These efforts have proven to be successful.

“The effort has paid off. In 2008, about 6% of clinic employees had six normal vital signs. Today, 63.8% of employees are in chronic care management programs and 40% have the six normal numbers.” Healthcare Dive reports.

If the healthcare industry can come together to support the wellness of other physicians by promoting a new role in the industry, then the burnout rate will decrease which will ultimately result in an overall positive satisfactory rate in the industry. These efforts will need a supportive industry to back the plans that the healthcare industry has while integrating CWOs into everyday functions.


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