Physician Burnout: Symptoms, Causes, and How to Address Them
Physician burnout is a reality that now plagues the US healthcare industry like never before. However, this epidemic of exhausted physicians working on “depleted batteries” isn't a new story. A study published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings reports that 63% of physicians had experienced burnout in 2021, compared with 38.2% in 2020. The problem has only worsened in the present age of healthcare consumerism, where patient demands are often hard to keep up with. Healthcare businesses lose about $4.6 billion every year due to consequences triggered by physician burnout which include but are not limited to:
- Lower patient satisfaction levels
- Higher rates of medical errors
- Increased physician turnover
What exactly is physician burnout?
In simple terms, physician burnout refers to the detrimental mental, physical, and behavioral effects experienced by practitioners due to working in a highly stressful healthcare setting. The degree of burnout varies amongst different specialties, with urologists and neurologists experiencing the highest levels of burnout at 54% and 53%, respectively. Meanwhile, public health and preventive medicine practitioners are the least affected, with only 28% experiencing burnout.
How to know when you are experiencing burnout
Physician burnout symptoms can be broadly categorized into three major subheads based on the area of functionality affected:
1. Physical signs and symptoms
- lack of energy or feeling exhausted even after taking adequate rest
- disrupted sleep pattern
- weaker immune system and loss of appetite
- frequent headaches and muscle/back pains
2. Emotional signs and symptoms
- Negative attitude towards patients, work, and even family
- Lack of compassion and empathy (depersonalization)
- Feeling of self-doubt, low confidence, always expecting the worst outcomes
- Loss of motivation
3. Behavioral signs and symptoms
- No sense of responsibility
- Frequent procrastination
- Skipping work, coming in late or leaving early
- Angry towards coworkers or patients
- Alcohol or substance use to cope with frustration
What causes physician burnout?
To effectively address physician burnout symptoms, it's crucial to know what is triggering them in the first place. Some common causes of physician burnout include, but are not limited to:
#1. Excessive paperwork and other administrative tasks
About 60% of healthcare practitioners of physicians pointed to bureaucratic burdens as the leading cause of burnout. Another 28% feel overwhelmed by the "increasing computerization of the practice." A study by Mayo Clinic reveals that the average physician spends almost half of their work day plus 28 additional hours (nights and weekends) every month completing EHR tasks! If these administrative tasks were automated, physicians can focus more on providing quality patient care.
Thanks to technology, several tasks can be easily automated to free up more time and resources for providing better patient care. One necessary step is sending out appointment reminders and seeking confirmation. As a physician, you need to know whether patients will turn up at the appointed date and time. Manually tracking every appointment can feel overwhelming, and without a proper system in place, you cannot proactively handle patient appointment cancellations, resulting in last-minute no-shows and a waste of resources.
With our easy-to-use patient appointment scheduling calendar, you can let your patients schedule or reschedule their appointments as and when they want while always staying informed of the latest changes. Moreover, with our proprietary patient appointment and confirmation reminder tool, you can send out multiple, customized reminders to your patients both before and on the day of the appointment to reduce no-shows and last-minute cancellations.
#2. All work and no play
Physicians who spend " superhero' mentality is what keeps most physicians from taking a well-deserved break. Most physicians live by two directives- "The patient comes first" and "Never show weakness." As a result, they ignore the early warning signs of burnout and continue pushing themselves long past their limits.
The thing is, you can be a superhero without overexerting yourself! Present-day healthcare consumers look for more than just standard services. They seek empathy and personal connection with their physicians before they can hand over their trust and become their loyal brand ambassadors. Our patient engagement solutions are designed to keep you on top of your patients’ minds every second, so they never feel left out. From personalized birthday e-cards to HIPAA-compliant 2-way SMS and monthly newsletters, our data-driven digital patient engagement tools let you connect with your patient anywhere, anytime!
#3. Stressful work environmentc
Being a physician is not a piece of cake. Working with the sick, injured, or dying and interacting with their families can be mentally and physically exhausting for physicians across multiple specialties. Add to this other stress factors like managing the front desk staff and running your own practice. Learning quickly on where you can improve care is how you can reduce the amount of stress in the office.
Our AI-based sentiment analysis tool can help you regain greater control over your practice by offering detailed insights into patient experience at each touchpoint. We collect and analyze every feedback left by your patient to create intuitive charts and reports that help you quickly identify areas of improvement and work on them to provide a superior patient experience.
#4. Fears about patient perception and online reputation
More than 80% of patients consider online reviews while selecting a healthcare provider, and 75% select only such providers/practices that have a minimum star rating of 4 or more. The modern-day patient has ever-evolving expectations that, when not met, can result in negative online reviews. Unfortunately, a few negative reviews often paint a wrong picture amongst prospective patients and is a common cause of concern for 90% of doctors.
With our proprietary reputation management platform, you can proactively manage online reviews and address negative patient feedback before it affects your brand reputation. We track your patient’s care journey and send automated surveys after every visit to measure their satisfaction levels at each touchpoint. Moreover, we make it easier for you to recover patients even after an unsatisfactory experience with our 3-step patient service recovery program.
Alleviate Physician Burnout with Data-Driven, Digital Marketing Solutions!
Proactively addressing factors responsible for physician burnout is one effective way to deal with it. Sometimes, even slight changes in schedules and commitments may be all you need to strike a better work-life balance. Meanwhile, in other instances, more extensive measures may be required- such as automation of administrative tasks, having an interactive system in place to promptly respond to patient feedback, and more.
At GMR Web Team, we are committed to helping patient-centric healthcare practices, and professionals redefine the patient experience by providing trusted, quality care at each touchpoint. Our proprietary healthcare digital marketing platform and customized marketing strategies help you continually attract and retain more patients to grow your practice.
Interested in learning how our 360-degree online marketing approach can save you time and money? Schedule a consultation today!
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