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Is Physician Burnout the Biggest Barrier to Physician Engagement?

Posted by Jerry Stone on Mar 31, 2017 8:50:56 AM

Physician Engagement is an essential driver and key ingredient to sustaining a patient-centered culture within any healthcare organization. Unfortunately, increasing rates of physician burnout are extinguishing engagement across the nation. In fact, the reality is that many physicians are over-worked, unsatisfied with their careers, and ready to leave medical practice all together. Increased regulation and administration, long hours, and changes in reimbursement are just a few of the reasons physicians are reaching a breaking point.

physician burnout and physician engagement

Below are a few statistics that represent this growing healthcare crisis in America:

  • 54% of doctors show signs of burnout and only 40% of doctors are satisfied with their work-life balance. (Source)
  • Every hour a physician provides patient care; there are nearly two additional hours spent performing Electronic Health Record activities. (Source)
  • More than 60 percent of physicians would not recommend a career in medicine to their own children. (Source)
  • Nearly 50% of physicians surveyed say they will most likely retire, reduce hours, or leave their positions due to regulatory burdens and other issues. (Source)
  • Physicians are experiencing record rates of depression, substance abuse, and marital issues. (Source)
  • An estimated 300–400 physicians die by suicide in the U.S. per year. (Source)
  • Male doctors are 1.4 times more likely to commit suicide than the general population; female physicians, 2.3 times more likely (Source)

Physician burnout is a serious threat to the entire US healthcare system. It affects quality, safety, and the delivery of patient care. The problem is not isolated; it is a system-wide issue that needs reform. When physicians are burnout, engagement is depleted. While no cost can be placed on a human’s life, unengaged burned-out physicians are much costlier to the healthcare system, than finding a solution to the problem. Government, healthcare organizations, and leadership must address the major causes of burnout and support a shift towards creating a culture of healthier, happier, physicians.

Causes of Physician Burnout or Barriers to Physician Engagement:

Suggestions for Reducing Physician Burnout and Improving Physician Engagement:

  • Eliminating invasive regulations that do not add value to patient care, and creating more comprehensive ways to assess quality.
  • Providing the appropriate resources and staffing support. Delegate administrative tasks to staff and provide the tools needed to allow everyone to do what they do best.
  • Allowing physicians more authority over their schedules. Physicians spending 12-14 hours seeing patients and 2-3 hours charting is not sustainable. Set better expectations for workload.
  • Improving communication between healthcare leadership and physicians.
  • Giving physicians a voice in decision-making.
  • Measure and track the well-being of physicians, and invest in physician engagement.

Although, there is not one solution for every organization and provider. Healthcare leadership must partner with physicians by working together toward identifying, developing, and implementing solutions within the medical practice that will reduce physician burnout and improve physician engagement.  

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