How to Reduce Physician Burnout for Higher Job Satisfaction and Increased Revenue
If you are like most physicians, you started your independent practice because you love connecting with your patients on a personal level and making a positive impact on their lives. While managing the health of your patients can be stressful at times, studies show that providers experience more stress from the administrative challenges that are outside of patient care.
With changes made this past decade in insurance reimbursements, patient collections, quality care reporting and other regulatory requirements, time with patients is unfortunately declining while provider burnout is rising. Physicians now spend two hours on administration for every one hour spent with patients.
A survey conducted by Kareo found a high correlation between time demands and burnout, with nearly three-quarters of respondents stating that avoiding burnout and remaining dedicated to medicine is an ongoing challenge. While these statistics may seem like very bad news, Dr. Paul DeChant, MD MBA, FAAFP and author of the book Preventing Physician Burnout, says the prognosis is a lot better than it seems at first glance. DeChant is a frequent healthcare industry speaker, consultant and coach.
Dr. DeChant points out that:
- Burnout doesn’t occur due to a lack of individual resilience on the part of the physician. It’s primarily a workplace problem, and workplace problems can be solved.
- Statistics show that if workers can spend 20% of their time doing what they love, they’re ok with the other 80% being less satisfying. Therefore, if the time doctors spend on administrative work can be reduced, the completion of administrative work would not have to go away completely for physicians to feel job satisfaction. An achievable goal for practices is to flip the typical ratio so physicians spend two hours of quality time with patients for every one hour that is spent on administrative tasks. Dr. DeChant believes that in nearly every practice, this is achievable.
- Creating additional time with patients isn’t just a matter of minutes on the clock but more about having a quality connection. Neither physicians nor patients will feel an intimate connection if every minute of the appointment is spent with the physician looking down at a screen or performing data collection tasks. The goal isn’t to spend more time with each patient, necessarily, but rather to create a more personal, present and high-quality interaction. If this can be accomplished, physicians will feel good about the time they are spending with their patients. Patient loyalty will go up, which can lead to more referrals and a thriving independent practice.
- As small business owners, physicians in independent practices often choose to do tasks themselves, even if it would be far more cost-effective to have a staff member do it. Evaluating and identifying “revenue generating expenses,” such as adding additional staff or improving automation, may be a necessary step.
- The key to optimizing a practice’s workflow to both reduce burnout and increase revenue is to focus the energy and effort of everyone in the practice on making the very best use of the practice’s number one resource – the physician’s time. Thoughtfully redesigning office visit workflows can create an optimal support team in which every job in the practice, from the receptionist to the billers, becomes a tool for increasing that time. From clinical workflows to staff management, to the way the physical office is set up – if they all work together to save time for the physician, everyone involved benefits – including the patients.
Dr. DeChant has multiple tips for achieving these changes, which include looking at staff utilization (and communication) and redesign of the physical office to encourage and support that communication. He will also discuss how the efficient use of technology can support and offload tasks that are overloading staff. You can read another article on the important topic of physician burnout here.
Going on vacation will no longer cut it if you are unsatisfied with your work and are suffering from burnout because of feeling overwhelmed by running your practice. Recognizing that your time with the patient is not just one aspect of the practice, but is literally the main product, can set the stage for changes you can make that will reduce your burnout and increase satisfaction not just for you, but your entire staff.
To see how Kareo can help you minimize stress and burnout in your practice, visit us here.