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Physician Burnout with Information Technology

Physicians are overloaded with all the aspects of the medical profession, including but not limited to having to retain a plethora of medical knowledge, often seeing vast numbers of patients, dealing with the daily stress of the job, and now, more than ever, having to fulfill the requirements of interacting with numerous computer systems.

The implementation of Electronic Health Record (EHR) systems

Physicians' workflows over the past few decades have changed drastically with the implementation of electronic health record hospital systems. The original goal of EHRs was to streamline hospital information such as laboratory values, vitals, notes, and other patient information, across all platforms in order to make workflows easier and faster. The reality of the situation is that it actually created more screen time for the users. Physicians are spending more time reviewing data, entering documents or orders, and ultimately, more time with the computer than with patients. This has led to dissatisfaction for physicians and increased levels of burnout.

What is physician burnout?

Physician burnout is described as long-term, unresolvable job-related stress that leads to exhaustion, cynicism, feelings of detachment from one’s job responsibilities, and a lack of sense of personal accomplishment. Burnout has many contributing factors. These include, though not limited to, the following: time pressures, family responsibilities, chaotic environment, low control of pace, and EHR interactions. 

Nearly every specialty has demonstrated burnout. A recent survey reported that physician burnout ranges from 29% to 54% of all physicians across various specialties. Burnout can occur at any point in a physician’s career and is reported nearly equally in the early, mid, and late stages of one’s career. The prevalence of physician burnout is reported to be exceeding 50% by more recent articles.

The impact of physician burnout

The MEMO study found that the hope that EHRs in the workplace would reduce stress has not yet been realized. In fact, implementation of an EHR can actually contribute to burnout. Physician burnout is associated with an increased risk of patient safety incidents, poorer quality of care due to low professionalism, reduced patient satisfaction, and physician turnover. Furthermore, other consequences have an impact on the physician directly, such as broken relationships, alcohol and substance use, depression, and tragically even suicide.

Doctors have higher satisfaction when they spend more time taking care of patients face-to-face. But they spend more than half of their workdays on EHRs, taking time away from patient care. These lengthy times spent on EHRs reduce physician satisfaction. Many surveys report over 50% of doctors say EHRs decrease satisfaction.

How can pMD help?

pMD is changing this trend by providing solutions to reduce some of the above causes of burnout. pMD supports physicians by focusing on reducing inefficient workflows and giving that time back to physicians. pMD products such as secure messaging, streamline HIPAA-compliant communication among physicians, allowing for transparency and reducing medical errors. pMD® Charge Capture™ features, such as the ability to instantly capture a charge in two taps, save a provider minutes per patient, which is time reallocated for face-to-face patient interaction and certainly adds up at the end of the day. Creating and adapting solutions for physicians to reduce burnout is inherent in everything pMD works towards and continues to evolve as the needs of providers change. While the goal is to make providers happy, patients are ultimately the ones that truly benefit.

To find out more about pMD's suite of products, which includes our charge capture and MIPS registrysecure messagingclinical communication, and care navigation software and services, please contact pMD.

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