The physical and emotional toll of being a physician is an aspect of the profession that has been studied for years. Physician burnout is complex and occurs because more and more physicians are finding that their time is being spent on navigating ever-evolving compliance requirements, regulations and Electronic Health Record (EHR) technology instead of being more patient focused. This reality has become even more stressed due to the onset of COVID-19. Physicians and healthcare staff had to implement new protocols, coding and billing almost overnight to meet the needs of not only those who needed care, but also how they would be receiving their care, whether in-person or virtually. Physicians are called to the profession because they want to help those who are in need, but the increasing burden of healthcare administrative demands, especially during a global pandemic, can make physicians lose connection with those who drew them to the profession in the first place. That stressed connection can have a negative effect on the patient’s healthcare experience.
When physicians become over extended due to the burden of administrative demands and can not take on new patients, access to quality care decreases, the patient experience suffers and physicians retire earlier than expected or leave the profession entirely. None of those outcomes are positive at any given time, but currently carry an increased amount of severity as the world navigates the short and long-term effects of COVID-19. The patient experience has already seen a dramatic shift due to social distancing and the utilization of Telehealth appointments.
Currently, physicians are faced with not only learning how to best treat this novel virus, but are also trying to provide treatment in such a way that they also do not become ill or expose their family and friends. The additional stress and shift in care can be daunting, especially when many physicians say mid-year of 2021 is most likely the earliest that COVID-19 could be under control.
COVID-19 Worsens Physician Burnout
Physician burnout rates were already at an all-time high before the pandemic, but have increased dramatically. According to a recent survey conducted by Physicians Foundation, 58% of physicians have reported experiencing burnout symptoms, compared to 40% that the same survey recorded in 2018. Burnout symptoms include emotional exhaustion, a feeling of depersonalization or cynicism, and a low sense of personal accomplishment in one’s work.
When physicians experience burnout, the safety of the patient and the mental well-being of the physician is ultimately at risk. According to the 2020 Physicians Foundation survey, 50% of physicians have experienced some type of emotional distress that stems from the effects that COVID-19 has had on their practice or employment and 13% have sought out medical attention for their mental health as a result of dealing with the effects of COVID-19. With an increasing backlog of paperwork from administrative demands and new documentation technology creating communication barriers, more room for errors are created and patients receive sub par care from unintentionally distracted physicians. All of these components lead to a stressed healthcare experience for everyone involved.
Signature Performance Navigates Healthcare Administration Obstacles
Signature Performance is improving not only our clients’ business but the entire healthcare industry by finding better ways to leverage technology, talented people, and industry-leading processes to identify ways to streamline claims processing, and at the end of the day, lowering the cost of healthcare administration. Our extensive track record over the last 16 years proves we can tackle any administrative burden with a thoughtful approach, while improving the overall workflow with a customized design. Our unmatched experience allows us to implement innovative solutions for every administrative demand. We are dedicated to making a lasting impact in the nexus of healthcare and that includes alleviating the administrative causes of physician burnout.
Our team has the financial expertise combined with EHR optimization experience to access a healthcare systems readiness for the paradigm shift to value-driven care. With the proper planning, guidance, payer contract design and tools your healthcare system can thrive in this ever-changing landscape. We believe the healthcare industry in the United States deserves only the best, and that sentiment is what motivates our dedicated team to do our very best each and every day. It’s our calling to bend the cost of healthcare administration by improving the overall quality, access and experience while minimizing resources and cost.
Stephanie Hyland is the Brand Experience Strategist at Signature Performance Inc., in Omaha, NE. Signature Performance is an industry leader in reducing healthcare administration costs for private and public healthcare sectors. Our unmatched experience in serving both the payer and provider side of healthcare financial management allows us to implement innovative solutions for every administrative demand.