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Rising Physician Burnout Blamed on EHR

Author: Outsource Strategies International
by Outsource Strategies International
Posted: May 26, 2015

Physician burnout is rising in America, and it is a sign that the system is straining doctors. While the 2013 Medscape Lifestyle Report indicated that less than 40% of the doctors surveyed reported burnout, the 2015 report revealed that the percentage has risen to 46% of the respondents. The burnout trend is nothing new, as back in the 2012 Archives of Internal Medicine survey physicians in the US had reported more burnout than the other American professionals.

Many reasons have been cited for the increase in the burnout rates of physicians, including reimbursement cuts and overexertion at work. Much of this can be traced back to the increased reliance on IT. Burnout basically displays itself through cynicism, low sense of accomplishment and lost enthusiasm at work.

Blaming Electronic Health Records

The 2015 Medscape report cited increasing computerization of practices as the fourth greatest contributor to physician burnout, while the 2013 survey cited this as only the ninth greatest contributor. In this year’s survey, 70% of the physicians complained about the EHR technology reducing the time they spend with patients while 57% of the physicians claimed it detracted from their capability to examine patients. In the 2014 Physicians Foundation survey, 85% of the surveyed physicians revealed that they have implemented an EHR while, crucially, only 32% believed that it has improved the efficiency of their practice. 46% actually believed the software had brought down efficiency.

The increased responsibilities of non-core tasks including coding, billing and insurance verifications could also be taking their toll on the professional life of physicians and physician practices. In fact, one of the other major reasons cited was the excess of bureaucratic responsibilities that comprise these and other tasks such as personnel management, contract negotiations and IT-related tasks. The new ICD-10 and HIPAA requirements demand significant technology and infrastructure changes as well.

Less Time with Patients, More Time on the Laptop

The EHR could be contributing to more time being spent at work by physicians. Physicians could be putting in more office hours compromising the focus and attention they are able to give to their core tasks. The major factor responsible for the strain could be disruptions in the clinical workflow caused by the software. Many physicians do not possess great keyboarding skills, and tasks such as these detract them from patient interaction. This has caused them to get back to the paper documentation practice during patient examinations and later entering the information into the EHR, which obviously increases the risk of errors plus the workload.

Physicians Getting Used to EHR

But EHR technology is improving. Most physicians are getting more comfortable with the demands of EHR, which is only an indication that the physicians experiencing trouble with it now would gradually get accustomed to it. They would gradually attain data accuracy, clinical insight and operational efficiencies. According to the Medscape survey, 81% of the respondents revealed that they are getting more comfortable with the EHR. It indicates that things could get better eventually even for doctors currently struggling with the electronic process.

They must improve since the brunt of physician discontent would ultimately be borne by patients, and the feeling is quite widespread in the profession.

About the Author

OSI is a leading healthcare BPO company based in Tulsa, Oklahoma, focused on providing reliable medical billing and coding services.

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Author: Outsource Strategies International

Outsource Strategies International

Member since: Apr 12, 2015
Published articles: 18

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