According to U.S. News & World Report, hospitals nationwide are dealing with physician burnout. The national burnout rate is up to a whopping 54 percent of all doctors, with healthcare executives blaming how medicine is practiced in the U.S. with too much time spent on clerical demands and not enough time spent actually taking care of patients.
And, I am one of those physicians that is completely burned out.
My decision to pursue a medical degree and become a doctor is probably not unlike most of my colleagues. We wanted to save lives. To heal people. We wanted to be of service to our community. But due to many factors, today’s practice environment is filled with stresses that continually pull us toward burnout and pull us away from being an engaged and fulfilled provider.
When I was a young kid growing up in Canada, my father gave me a computer—an Apple IIe, and let me tinker with it. I was hooked. I loved the idea of understanding what made a computer work and so, I taught myself computer science and coding. When I was in Boston in Residency and Fellowship, I started to see real opportunities to use my computer skills to improve processes and work flow.
I don’t think it would be a surprise to anyone to say our healthcare system is in need of serious attention. One of the burdens that plague providers is the emphasis and demand on data gathering and utilization to submit in order to receive payment for our work. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have very specific requirements regarding quality and clinical data reporting. Though many CMS reporting programs lead to an increase in care quality, it is often challenging for providers to constantly adapt to new guidelines and determine which data points are worthwhile to collect and analyze. There is simply not enough time in the day to adhere to all the obligations and requirements and spend quality time with every patient. Patient’s deserve more than 2-3 minutes of 1:1 time with their physician. This is why, I believe, the majority of physicians are burned out.
Along with the stress of collecting and using big data comes the question of which new technologies would work best for a practice. If you have 10 partners in your practice, you’re likely to have 10 differing opinions. More than 90 percent of hospitals and clinics currently utilize an electronic health record (EHR) and I’m guessing more than 90 percent of physicians using these systems dislike the functionality of the EHR they are required to use. They are often clunky, time consuming and require too much clicking therefore, wasting too much time in our busy day.
New technologies are being developed all the time. But here’s the problem. Most are not being developed by physicians or even with the input of physicians. So, what we continually get are solutions that are not physician friendly nor are they intuitive to how a physician actually practices or goes about their day. And yet, we are required to use them and try to make them work for our specific specialties. Every specialty has very specific nuances and in order to work efficiently, require customization to that given specialty. This is what drove me to develop my own software solution that gave me and my partners more time in our day to devote to our patients.
Physicians can be easily overwhelmed by the number of patients they see every day and forget to submit charges, the need for follow-up or data. I wanted software that was intelligent and intuitive and improved my workflow. I wanted more time in my day to spend directly with my patients. Software designed by physicians albeit somewhat unusual, is the type of technology that works because physicians understand physicians.
However bad or inept the software being used is, this increase in technology utilization means more data to gather and analyze. Solutions created by physicians for physicians is a better way to get more time back in your day and in turn, decrease the plague of physician burnout.
Dr. Gregory Sanders is a full time practicing Cardiologist and the CEO/Founder of HybridChart in Scottsdale, AZ. Visit HybridChart at: https://hybridchart.com/