Physicians must treat their patients and provide the highest-quality medical care available, but who cares for the well-being of physicians? In the 2015 Medscape Physician Lifestyle Report, 46% of responding physicians reported that they were experiencing feelings of burnout. The high turnover rate for healthcare professionals reflects this statistic.
Healthcare advocates often speak of patient-centered care and cost reduction, yet a key component is missing: restoring medical staff satisfaction and preventing burnout. In a time when physicians are leaving medicine altogether or going into concierge practices, extreme measures are required to promote work/life balance for physicians and other health care providers, along with efficient, profitable management methods to promote patient satisfaction.
Most successful medical practices recognize that patient experience and quality of care are closely related to staff experiences and the level of professional engagement. Effective time-management strategies can go a long way toward collaborative care and promoting patient and staff satisfaction. When patients were asked about the most important thing they wanted in a physician or healthcare provider, they answered “time with their doctor” (Ogden, 2004). Solutions to improved time management range from the utilization of technology to diminished absenteeism, self-selection of workweek scheduling and other empowerment tools.
Some ways to improve the psychological well-being and preventing physician burnout include:
- Allowing physicians to take some control over their scheduling. For example, shift coverage on holidays may be more important to one physician in the group than another, or encouraging physicians and nurses to take scheduled vacation days while still keeping the practice workflow intact
- Utilizing technology to assist in monitoring and improving workflow. When too much time is spent trying to track down lab results, CT reports, supplies or coworkers, healthcare managers must develop a system to help team members perform more effectively. Judicious use of scheduling and time-management software reduces frustration
- Self-scheduling empowers your staff to set their own shifts and take needed time off. With TrackSmart Scheduling, your staff can check their work schedules from any computer or smart device. Staff members can swap shifts easily and quickly, and managers can decide whether to approve or deny the requests.
Your physicians and other healthcare professionals are your most expensive and valuable asset — and in limited supply. Structuring workflows in ways that promote their retention and reduction of burnout is essential.
Ogden J., Bavalia K., Bull M. “I want more time with my doctor”: a quantitative study of time and consultation. Family Practice 2004 21 (5): 479-483
Physician Burnout: It Just Keeps Getting Worse: http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/838437