Who’s Caring for the Care Providers?
Physician burnout is not going away. Nearly 63% of physicians reported symptoms of burnout at the end of 2021, up from 38% in 2020, according to a recent survey by the AMA. Despite this, we still expect them to be compassionate, take their time with each visit, and truly listen to the patient. And we expect them to do this in the face of continuous budget cuts in the health care world. We keep asking why providers are not caring for their patients in the same way as they had in the past. The question we should be asking is, “Who is caring for the providers?”
The fact that doctors are being required to do more with less has been taking its toll for years. It’s just been exacerbated by the pandemic and brought to the forefront. If they are burned out, that has an impact beyond the physicians and can impact the health system. We need to do more than care – we need to act.
For too long we have thought of burnout as a personal issue. The reality is that burnout is a symptom, not the underlying problem, requiring both individual-focused and systems-level interventions. Christine Sinsky, MD, AMA Vice President of Professional Satisfaction states, “While burnout manifests in individuals, it originates in systems. Burnout is not the result of a deficiency in resiliency among physicians, rather it is due to the systems in which physicians work.”
We know from a 2023 Medscape report that physicians listed too many bureaucratic tasks and too many work hours as the top contributors to burnout with one in three citing more support staff, more respect from supervisors and colleagues, and lighter patient loads. Virtual medical scribes and AI-enabled technology play a major part in improving physician well-being. These steps remove much of the documentation and EHR burden from physicians. With this extra support, they can add 2+ patients a day, improve Relative Value Units (RVUs), reduce pajama time, and have more meaningful encounters with their patients.
At AQuity, we believe providing the right blend of services and technologies can drastically improve Physician Wellness. Physician well-being is a complex problem and can’t be fixed with a one size fits all solution. Aligning and tailoring solutions to meet physicians needed outcomes is paramount. It’s going to take everyone working together to fight the causes of burnout and create lasting, long-term change for the better. AQuity will continue to do our part to give physicians the opportunity to once again thrive, achieve their full potential, and find purpose in their work.