A career in healthcare is a demanding one and your physicians work hard to keep up with it all. With all of the tasks designated to physicians, we can’t help but wonder–are physicians working too hard? We’ve narrowed down the top ten reasons why physicians are working overtime and how to help them achieve better efficiency and avoid physician burnout.
Why Your Physicians Are Working Too Hard
1. Physicians Care About Their Patients
The number one reason why your physicians are working around the clock is so that they can deliver exceptional care to their patients. After all, physicians become physicians primarily to care for people. The three A’s of medicine are availability, affability and ability and a dedicated physician exudes all three. Your physicians are available to their patients when they’re needed, they’re affable (friendly) to them and they’re able to take care of their patients successfully.
Of the three A’s, being available is the most time consuming and a huge reason why your physicians are working around the clock. No physician wants to turn down a patient, so odds are they’re putting in the extra hours to be available for their services. Your physicians are working harder and longer simply because they care for their patients, and we think that’s awesome.
2. Medicine Isn’t Just 9-5
Unlike many other careers, being a physician isn’t typically a nine to five gig. Healthcare is unpredictable and your physicians are flexible to the changes and surprises that come with it. Going back to the fact that physicians care about their patients, odds are your physicians rarely turn a patient down. Physicians are no strangers to last-minute appointments and emergency visits, and they’ll put in the hours to help their patients.
3. They’re a Specialist
A physician that specializes in a specific area of expertise is in even higher demand than a general or primary physician. Cardiologists, radiologists, allergists, and dermatologists are all examples of physicians who specialize in a certain sector of medicine. The growth of medical technology has led to more specific diagnoses– making specialists like these are even more sought after than before. These specific cases often take more time and research than a general check-up or wellness visit. So if your physician is highly specialized, chances are they’re working longer hours because of their high demand.
4. Too Many Tasks
Physicians don’t just spend all day meeting with patients. In fact, only about 27% of a physician’s day is spent with patients. So what do they do for the other 73%? The answer is: just about everything else. Physicians must review test results, log information, write medication orders and more. These tasks take up so much of their time that physicians often work overtime just to catch up. Consequently, this overbearing workload often leads to something called physician burnout.
Physician burnout is the result of excessive stress classified as a cycle of negative emotions, paralysis and withdrawal. It is the mental, emotional, often physical exhaustion that eventually leads to total disengagement. Knowing the signs and symptoms of physician burnout is important for preventing it in the first place. Physicians need to take care of themselves too!
5. Lack of Help
Often, and especially in smaller practices, fewer staff members means more work for each person. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, though. Small and medium-sized practices often function successfully due to the transparency and understanding of each person’s role in the practice. But, when things start to get busy, the work of a physician piles up quickly–causing physicians to work longer hours in order to catch up.
If you think your physicians might be working longer hours because you don’t have a big enough staff, the solution to the problem doesn’t necessarily have to be hiring more people. Many practices are finding that outsourcing for laborious tasks–like medical transcription or documentation–help free up the time of their physicians, allowing for more time with the patient.
6. Avoidance of Patient Handover
Patient handover is when a patient is in the care of a physician and that care gets handed over to a different physician. For example, if Physician A is the patient’s primary physician but Physician A isn’t available at the time the patient needs them, then the patient will likely be handed over to Physician B for the time being.
While handing over a patient to a fellow physician lightens the load of the original physician, patient handover allows for more errors in documentation and ultimately interferes with the physician-patient relationship. As a result, many physicians try to avoid doing this. This avoidance of patient handover means that your physicians are working longer or extended hours to care for their patients and as a result–are probably working overtime.
Much like the fact that a physician’s job is rarely nine to five, a physician’s life is an unpredictable one. One day there might be a smooth-sailing appointment schedule and the next they might have 3 last-minute appointments and one that takes an hour longer than expected. Physicians are forced to go with the flow and take whatever comes at them. This unpredictability means that physicians can’t necessarily count on a routine to get everything they need to do done. This leads to more sporadic and longer hours, resulting in–you guessed it–overtime.
8. Poor Workflow
A highly functioning medical practice is a tightly run ship, with all duties and tasks accounted for. In practices with poor workflow, even the slightest slip up can cause complete chaos. What we mean is that when there’s a lack of cohesiveness in a practice, things are more likely to go awry–such as appointment times, billing cycles, confusion of responsibilities, etc. And, when things go wrong, it takes more time from all staff members to clean up the mess. Physicians, as a result, tend to get the brunt of these issues, leaving them to put in more hours to sort it all out.
The rise of EHR (electronic health records) has caused huge reliance on all things technology. While the switch from paper to electronic was meant to make the lives of physicians easier, it’s sort of doing the opposite.
With the amount of time necessary to input accurate data, computers are actually slowing your physicians down. Pair this with ever-changing government and insurance company regulations and physicians are spending all of their time at a computer.
As mentioned earlier, physicians only spend about 27% of their time with patients. And sadly, much of that 27% is spent entering notes into the patient’s EHR. Physicians are finding that almost all of their time is spent documenting visits rather than visiting with their patients. And what’s more, a physicians job isn’t done simply at the end of each visit. Physicians then need to file paperwork and update their patient’s charts, which can take hours and hours depending on what their day has looked like.
How To Free Up Your Physician’s Time
A great way to mitigate the problems listed above and save your physician’s time is by outsourcing more of your practice’s services. Outsourcing can mean a lot of things. But what physicians typically find the most beneficial are services like medical transcription, document management and EHR integrations.
As medical providers, physicians shouldn’t have to settle for hours spent entering data. With an expert medical transcriptionist documenting their words, your physicians can spend more time speaking with their patients and less time transcribing the information themselves. Let a medical transcriptionist handle the nitty-gritty paperwork and allow your physicians to enjoy time with their patients and ultimately, stop working overtime.
A qualified and competent medical transcription company will be fully equipped to integrate into your EHR system. At DataMatrix Medical, we provide fast, accurate and convenient medical transcription services to keep your physicians in front of what really matters: their patients. To see firsthand how medical transcription services can benefit your practice, schedule a free 2-week trial today.
Looking for more ways to protect your physician’s time and health? Download our free guide Successful Strategies To Mitigate Burnout At Your Practice below!