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How Doctor Burnout is Impacting Your Care

Doctor burnout is something most don’t like to talk about, but it exists nonetheless and could be having a profound impact on the level of care you and your family receive. In order to provide a clearer picture of what’s happening in medicine today and what you can do to ensure your family receives quality care, we’ll explore the causes of doctor burnout, what the scope of the problem is, and what solutions medical practice are utilizing to make sure doctors can continue operating at their peak.

Doctor Burnout is Caused by a “Perfect Storm” of Events

Think of your last trip to the grocery store and the clerk who checked out your items. As you probably know, the clerk’s primary job is to help you, but he or she has other duties as well. They may involve stocking, cleaning, doing paperwork, or setting up displays. Most of the time, the cash registers are pretty good, but you probably also know what happens when an item doesn’t scan right. You might wind up waiting for a price check or the clerk will check his or her code book, search through dozens of variations of the same item, and manually key in the numbers. This takes time and is a minor annoyance, but thankfully, it doesn’t often happen.

Now, imagine for a moment that your favorite store is purchased and the new owner wants to save a few bucks, so the number of employees is cut back and a different system requiring manual key-ins every time is added. That one employee is doing the work of several, lines grow, and morale drops. Is the employee even going to realize that he or she has keyed in the code for a Gala apple versus the Honeycrisp you picked? Probably not. Moreover, the cashier is going to be dead on his or her feet in a short period of time. Productivity will decline and errors will climb. That is until the cashier decides he or she has had enough. This is what’s happening with physicians too.

Patient counts are climbing, administrative duties are growing, and complex computer systems used for everything from insurance billing to scheduling are eating away at what little time physicians have to provide care for their patients. The result? The average has about 2,500 and the doctor spends 27% of their time face-to-face with them, literally only a few minutes with each person.

Doctor Burnout Results in Errors, Referrals, and More

Patient safety declines and mortality increases alongside doctor burnout rates. Researchers have tried everything from checklists to surveys to try to generate awareness and minimize the issues, but these types of things don’t address the cause of doctor burnout and have proven ineffective. These same physicians are also more likely to refer patients out. And, even though the quality of care declines, the cost of care rises.

The US is Experiencing a Physician Shortage

Nearly half of all physicians are presently experiencing burnout, with about 1 in 50 physicians prepared to leave the profession because of it and 1 in 5 hoping to reduce hours soon. Over the next decade, about a quarter of physicians are expected to leave the profession. At the same time, the number of older Americans, who generally require more medical care, is projected to nearly double by 2050. This only compounds the issues for those who continue to practice.

Better Care Requires Dedication

While there may be no overall solution to the physician shortage, yet it’s clear that practices need to see fewer patients and give the physicians more time with the patients they have in order to reduce or maybe even eliminate doctor burnout and improve quality of care as well as patient outcomes.

Few models accomplish this, but one stands out above the rest: concierge medicine. Concierge physicians have only a few hundred patients, they tend to be happier, and provide better care, as demonstrated by better patient outcomes and improved patient satisfaction. If you feel like your physician isn’t spending enough time with you, doesn’t value you, or isn’t focused on your overall well being, Dedication Health can help. To learn more about our practice or become a member, reach out to our practice manager Christine at 847-986-6770 or contact her via our online form.