New research from the American Medical Association suggests that doctors are now spending two hours imputing data on electronic medical records and doing other administrative work for every one hour they spend at a patient’s beside. This suggests that there is a large administrative burden in the healthcare community, and it’s a major contributor to physician burnout.
According to surveys, physician burnout affects more than half of all physicians in practice in America today. The effects of physician burnout are still being researched and understood, but estimates suggests that for a hospital of health network, the cost of replacing a physician can reach $1 million.
While many major health networks can work around the financial aspects of the loss of a physician to burnout or other reasons, a bigger impact is being felt among independent practitioners, who are being burned out at a faster rate than any time in the past. This can lead to the closure of medical practices, and for some patients, the loss of easy medical access.
Combating Independent Physician Burnout
Being able to help patients is why I entered the healthcare field in the first place. Independent practices like my own and that are run by many of my close friends strive to put the patient first, and that’s tough to do when you’re buried in red tape, so to speak. Larger hospitals and healthcare networks can get around this by delegating administrative and compliance work to different parties, but with independent practitioners, that burden usually falls on them. This is no only stressful and time consuming, but it takes us away from what we want to be doing, which is helping patients.
So how do we combat physician burnout at the solo-practitioner level? For starters, let’s build new health systems for independent practitioners to streamline the process of billing insurance and ensuring compliance. We need access to an open healthcare marketplace and consultants to help doctors with behind the scenes billing issues. Patients need a more simplified healthcare market that can get them the access to doctors that they need.
I have faith that technological and medical advancements will help to take some of the paperwork and compliance burden off solo practitioners, because it really can’t get much worse. Doctors help to keep patients healthy, but our current healthcare and insurance billing system doesn’t help keep solo practitioners in a healthy mindset. When we’re overburdened, our patients suffer. I don’t know the perfect solution, but we can’t keep doing the same thing and expecting doctors to find a magical solution to burnout.