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Payers: There's more we all can do to reduce physician burnout

67 percent of all surveyed doctors know a physician who is likely to stop practicing medicine in the next five years, due to physician burnout.

The issue of physician burnout is a pervasive, challenging one that lacks easy answers. 

It hit home three years ago when Geneia's survey of physicians led to the creation of the Physician Misery Index

The survey found:

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  • Two-thirds (67 percent) of all surveyed doctors know a physician who is likely to stop practicing medicine in the next five years, as the result of physician burnout.
  • 78 percent say they frequently feel rushed when seeing patients.
  • An overwhelming majority – 87 percent - say the "business and regulation of healthcare" has changed the practice of medicine for the worse.

More recently, a HIMSS Media Pulse Survey found 88 percent of payer management and staff report success in improving physician satisfaction. But just 41 percent were able to identify an action their plan is taking to reduce physician burnout and 13 percent admitted they are doing nothing. 

Reversing physician burnout starts with understanding and articulating the unique and vital role physicians have in patient care and value-based care success. Key tenets are: 

  • Physicians are a highly-valued, limited resource;
  • The central tenant to design of workflows and tasks that involve physicians must be to minimize the overall effort expended by physicians;
  • To the greatest extent possible, everything that can be done by someone other than a physician, in fact, should be;
  • That other administrative and care team members are perfectly equipped, if given the right information and tools, to identify risk, coordinate care, manage open care opportunities, close care and coding gaps, motivate and engage patients, and perform recordkeeping to maximize a return on quality, cost and revenue; and
  • Physicians' time must be reserved for improving the patient relationship, diagnosis and treatment.

Many health plans are interested in helping to reverse physician burnout and create the kind of collaboration that allows physicians to not only succeed in value-based care arrangements but also rediscover the joy of medicine. 

Among the survey respondents who indicated their plan is taking an action to address physician satisfaction, they reported:

  • Reducing administrative burdens
  • Driving faster reimbursements
  • Educating and empowering physicians
  • Increasing payer responsiveness/agility 

Payers are increasingly investing in the success and well-being of their network physicians. Some not only give their network providers a proven, shared analytics platform, but the savviest of them actively involved providers in the selection of the tool. Involving network physicians helped to build trust and greater technology adoption, important building blocks to the alignment and collaboration needed for sustained value-based care success.

Undoubtedly, there is much more the healthcare industry can and should do to appropriately value physicians and help reverse physician burnout. Nevertheless, there are small, but significant steps that those who work in the healthcare industry can take to help.

To read more about how Geneia is working to reverse physician burnout and how you can help, click here.

About the Author:

Heather Lavoie, Chief Strategy Officer at Geneia, @hslavoie