Physician Burnout Takes Center Stage Print
Written by Jeffrey Herschler   
Thursday, 06 June 2019 00:00

Physician burnout has been a hot topic in the news media lately and now a new report from the Annals of Internal Medicine puts a dollar figure on the issue: $4.6 billion. (NPR does a great analysis of the report HERE.) This is, according to the authors, a conservative estimate. Clearly, our overburdened health system can't afford this level of waste. 

Daniel Marchalik, a surgeon, contributes an excellent essay on the topic from a physician's perspective in a recent Washington Post article. (Soft paywall; login may be required.) Not surprisingly, Dr. Marchalik puts the blame squarely on EHRs. This new requirement of onerous data entry plus consolidation in the health sector, which reduces physician autonomy, appear to be the main drivers of the epidemic. Meanwhile, a Kissimmee, FL based physician has just written a book on burnout. 
 
So, there is lot of anecdotal evidence of the growing problem as well an enormous cost estimate delivered by a prestigious medical journal. But what is being done?

Lots of organizations are working on potential solutions. Stanford University just announced a collaboration that attempts to address the issue and research is being done on AI applications. Now that a dollar figure has been assigned, more help is surely on the way.
 
And it can't come soon enough. According to  practice management consultant Oyinkansola "Bukky" Ogunrinde, MHSA, "Physician burnout is not only financially costly to healthcare systems, but it also has implications in the quality of care rendered to patients which can result in compounding legal and immeasurable cost to health systems and affected patients respectively."
 
"Now that the World Health Organization has categorized burnout as a syndrome listed in the International Classification of Diseases - ICD-11, perhaps this will catalyze many organizations' efforts to combat the problem," she adds. "If not, the industry can expect governmental intervention by way of workplace laws and healthcare regulations - dictates that often result in additional and disproportionate cost."

Last Updated on Monday, 10 June 2019 17:41