Even before the pandemic, physician burnout was seen as a threat to the healthcare profession. According to the AMA, things were looking up before COVID, with the physician burnout rate dropping to 42% in 2019, down 4% from five years prior. A recent survey by the Medical Economics Journal reveals that professionals’ mental health has recently reached a crisis point, with four out of five (80%) physicians feeling burned out after dealing with the pandemic.
When asked what contributes to burnout, the top three answers cited not the practice of medicine per se but rather the everyday grind of the business of medicine. The top three reasons for burnout:
- 31% Too much paperwork and regulations
- 24% Work too many hours/poor work-life balance
- 11% Electronic health records
Suppose providers were able to streamline paperwork and reduce bureaucracy, which would lead to higher productivity and decreased labor hours. In that case, the risk of burnout could be mitigated – leading to higher retention rates and better patient outcomes.
Although strides have been made to reduce paperwork (such as new E/M coding guidelines and electronic claim generation and remittances), internal processes at the office level are often to blame for the frustrations of practicing medicine.
There can be light at the end of the tunnel. Here are our top three techniques to reduce practice administration burdens and help restore work/life balance.
#1 Find the right technology
Healthcare is more integrated than ever. Technology is now available to reduce barriers to care while improving revenue cycle workflows. Rather than using separate systems for EHR, claims management, and telehealth, try to find an all-in-one solution that will integrate everything onto a single platform. A single source will drastically reduce the human error of switching between systems and save time by streamlining daily workflows. Another benefit not to be overlooked is the value of taking advantage of technology upgrades geared to improving efficiency. Often, offices with separate systems are overwhelmed by constant software updates and don’t take advantage of the technology at their fingertips that can save time and money. Using a single service solution simplifies managing technology and getting the most out of your system.
#2 Look for tools and partners to help reduce administrative burdens
Although electronic claims management has revolutionized the revenue cycle, many other essential processes are done manually, such as pre-certifications and authorizations, which are tedious tasks. Use electronic tools available from payers and your software provider whenever possible to streamline workflows and reduce the risk of non-compensation. Many organizations using a partner to help manage payer authorizations find that their clinical staff can focus more on patient care while drastically reducing authorization denials.
MIPS and MACRA are two other areas that can increase administrative burdens, especially during the first quarter. Finding a partner that can help your practice focus on and achieve measure thresholds while minimizing workflows disruptions can free up administrative labor while unlocking enhanced compensation.
#3 Find support among colleagues
If you’re an independent provider who organizes your on-call schedule, consider networking with colleagues to find after-hours coverage so you can genuinely have downtime when not in the office. Independent providers can still honor their care contracts if they have an established group of physicians that switch-off after-hours coverage with established protocols. For providers that work in large groups, consider if on-call scheduling changes would help you take a mental break. Perhaps the schedule that worked for you last year impedes upon commitments you’d like to make this year. Try to find colleagues who can trade duties, allowing you to take the time you need.
Seventy-one percent (71%) of the Medical Economics survey respondents said that workplace culture contributes to burnout. The good news about that statistic is that stressors can be identified and mitigated. Using the right partner for electronic health records and billing can make it easy to create a workplace where both your providers and patients flourish. Contact us today at (412) 424-2260 or visit vowhs.com to learn how we can help you optimize practice workflows, reduce administrative burdens, and maximize revenue.