3 Ways Your Healthcare Organization Can Reduce Physician Burnout

Jul 8, 2018

Administrative burden is among the top three challenges of care providers, according to a 2017 AMA study in collaboration with the University of Wisconsin. This difficulty has the potential to rapidly accelerate physician burnout. Not only that, but administrative burden on physicians reduces the amount of time physicians spend with their patients. In fact, more than half of a primary care physician’s day consists of EHR and administrative tasks, whereas just barely more than a quarter of their time actually with their patients. Even when they’re in the exam room, physicians spend more than a third of their time inputting data. Not only do physicians have an abnormally long workday, but their workday is generally spent performing tedious tasks, even after hours. Among other factors, this burden contributes to the statistic that between 20.9% and 43.2% of physicians report depressive symptoms that get progressively worse as the physician’s seniority advances.

Physician burnout is defined as “long-term stress reaction characterized by depersonalization, including cynical or negative attitudes toward patients, emotional exhaustion, a feeling of decreased personal achievement and a lack of empathy for patients”. It’s associated with feelings of hopelessness and depersonalization, an increase in physician errors, and depletion of physicians’ empathy. These factors undoubtedly produce a lower-quality patient experience, and thus decreases the quality of the care organizations that employ these physicians.

Physician burnout leads to discontent in work environments, and it’s no surprise that that, in turn, leads to turnover. Not only is it unfortunate for the physicians themselves, it’s also extremely costly. Burnout-related turnover costs total to a staggering $17 billion per year across the US. Because of these factors, it’s undeniably necessary to address the issue and work toward reducing physician burnout. Here are some of our ideas about what your organization can do to reduce this administrative burden and avoid a decline in your organization’s overall quality.

3. Create a Physician Wellness CommitteeImplement a committee to periodically monitor burnout and to think of solutions to reduce it. This would be best done by taking physicians from various departments as committee members and having each of them monitor their own department using wellness surveys, or something comparable. By having physicians lead these groups, the pain points and concerns of physicians are almost guaranteed to be addressed. With no middle man, physicians can speak freely among themselves and then implement change in collaboration with administrative staff based on the concerns that arise within the committee.

2. Provide and Be Receptive to Feedback: Feedback is an essential part of any career as a measure of professional performance. Giving physicians feedback is no different: an environment of support and positive reinforcement can help physicians resist becoming discouraged and can help to put administrative frustration into perspective. It also shows the physician that empathetic care is valued and that they are not alone in their dissatisfactions. Similarly, taking time to listen to concerns of physicians sends a message that your organization cares about its employees. Welcoming feedback also allows physicians a place to vent about their frustrations, hear the annoyances of their peers, and knowing that they are not alone. This can help ameliorate not only burnout, but also the associated adverse effects on mental health.

1. Enlist outside help to make data entry and use easier: There’s more than one ways to make your EHR work for you, but one of the most effective is to get help from external health information technology vendors. The data used in the vast majority of healthcare organizations is imperfect and incomplete – around 30% of physicians don’t trust outside data even if it is provided, 62% of providers don’t even use data from outside sources, simply because their EHR/EMR workflow doesn’t accommodate for them to. The pressure of making a life-or-death decision with flawed information makes giving care a high-risk situation that demands a lot intellectually and emotionally from the physician. Rather than leaving out patient data because it comes from an external EHR/EMR vendor, use clinical standardization to synthesize data from disparate systems into one central record. HealthTerm does this by reliably mapping up to 76% of health data on the first hit. 10% of data will yield “garbage codes,” leaving only 14% of codes that require human intervention and interpretation. By doing this, physicians will no longer need to spend 51% of their time interacting with an EHR and can spend more time with their patients, developing relationships and preserving emotional energy.By enlisting HealthTerm, a terminology service, physician resentment toward EHR/EMR systems could very well be reduced. There should be a long-term goal to reduce and prevent organizational malfunctions to appropriately address physician burnout, and one way to do that is increase efficiency and use of EHRs/EMRs by focusing on data availability and usability.

Physician burnout is a real thing, and by negatively impacting the empathy of physicians, it’s taking a toll on care quality. As a healthcare organization, you have an obligation both to your patients and your physicians to alleviate this issue as much as you can to ensure the highest quality of care possible. By creating a wellness committee to monitor the mental health of physicians, giving and receiving feedback, and taking advantage of innovative solutions that can improve the performance of your EHR/EMR, your organization can take big steps toward easing the effect of physician burnout.

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What is HealthTerm?

HealthTerm is a terminology platform, developed by CareCom over the last 15 years for the international healthcare sector.

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How does HealthTerm Work?

HealthTerm handles all tasks related to terminologies, code systems and structured content – from creation of a new code system to translation of international code systems or mappings between local code lists and international standards.

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What makes Heathterm Unique?

HealthTerm is unique in having a full set of tools to create and maintain all types of code systems and at the same time, it has the performance/security to handle the biggest healthcare enterprises on run-time look-up.

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Orion is excited to announce our migration to HealthTerm. The flexibility combined with the high quality control of HealthTerm's tooling is by far the best the market offers today. We offer our customers a complete tooling package with everything from ease of use, maintenance of local code systems and mapping to a huge range of standard code systems based on international process standards with workflow control and process statistics. Additionally the software enables handling multi lingual processing on the fly, patient friendly and clinician friendly terms. Thousands of subset for customers to use in their applications come as standard e.g. for quality measure reporting (CQMs) and detailed support for semantic ontologies.

CHRIS HOBSON
Chief Medical Officer, Orion Health
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“HealthTerm® can be described as the link between applications and organizations in the healthcare system. It is one of the most advanced products within this specialized market. HealthTerm is a complete solution which can be used in any type of job where classifications and terminologies are essential. HealthTerm ensures consistency as all clinical and administrative systems collect codes from one source – and this in turn provides an increase in patient safety.”

NNIT
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IBM Watson Health is striving to transform global health by applying cognitive computing. Most healthcare data is unstructured and simply not captured by current systems. Watson Health will generate actionable insights from this previously unseen data, backed by HealthTerm’s standardization of clinical data. HealthTerm® will ensure consistent terminology usage by enabling the management of international standard terminologies with integrated versioning and cognitive auto-mapping, while also providing an “off the shelf”, multi-tenant/multi-lingual solution complete with a commercialized API and GUI.

IBM
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‘…EU Commission: the epSOS project uses HealthTerm® as the 24/7 terminology webserver, where all the national translations and mappings are created using the mapping and translation modules. The final results of these endeavors now represents the epSOS Central Reference Terminology Server for all participating countries.

The EU Commission
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SHIEC is excited to have CareCom U.S. join the SB&T Partner program,” said Kelly Hoover Thompson, CEO of SHIEC. “SB&T Partners are selected based on their ability to bring unique, value-added solutions to o ur HIE community members. We know some of our members might struggle with a single source of truth for code systems and effective ways to map codes. CareCom U.S. provides the tools and expertise to support our members financial and operational goals. SHIEC looks forward to working with CareCom U.S.

SHIEC
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“HealthTerm® is designed specifically for Clinical Master Data Management, and CareCom has answered all our requirements in a way that shows their experience and a wide knowledge and expertise in managing structured content. We are convinced that HealthTerm® will cover our needs for Clinical Master Data Management on both a short and long-term basis. Furthermore, CareCom will be a great advisor and sparring partner on future customized solutions.” says Alfhild Stokke, Program Manager, The Norwegian Directorate of eHealth.

The Norwegian Directorate of eHealth
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