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5 Symptoms of Physician Burnout to Beware

Stress. It’s unavoidable, especially at work.

Prolonged physical and mental exhaustion in a job, however, can lead to burnout. The biggest sources of stress at work typically consist of ineffective communication, too much workload, demands from a manager or supervisor and unclear expectations.

The burnout that this stress can lead to does not only impact employees. Employees suffering from burnout are 63 percent more likely to take sick days, show less confidence in their work performance and are more than twice as likely to leave their job. For employers, that results in higher employee turnover and less productive workers with more absenteeism.

What professionals are at an especially high risk for burnout? Doctors.

The Impact of Administrative Burden on Physician Burnout

Many U.S. physicians report burnout at rates two times higher than other working adults. The two things most of these physicians attribute to their burnout are too many bureaucratic tasks (i.e., charting and paperwork) and too many hours at work.

Just how much administrative work does a doctor do? If you are a physician or work in a medical practice, you know that doctors encounter excessive paperwork and multiple administrative tasks. Almost half a physician’s workday is spent on administrative work — only 27 percent is spent on direct clinical care. For each hour of clinical face time they spend with patients, an additional two are filled with administrative and clerical tasks.

Common Symptoms of Physician Burnout

Are you a doctor experiencing any of these symptoms?

  1. 1 Emotional Exhaustion
  2. If you are in a constant state of feeling worn out and drained because of an accumulation of stress from your personal or work life or both, chances are you’re emotionally exhausted. Studies have shown that 25-60 percent of physicians across numerous specialties report exhaustion.

  3. 2 Depersonalization
  4. Also referred to as compassion fatigue, depersonalization signals a void of emotional energy. It is sometimes expressed by physicians as unprofessional comments directed toward colleagues or blaming patients for their medical problems.

  5. 3 Lack of Efficacy
  6. Lack of efficacy refers to a feeling of incompetence or a low sense of personal accomplishment. It is less common in male physicians.

  7. 4 Sleep Deprivation
  8. Physicians work so many hours, especially when they are on call, so it’s not surprising that they encounter sleep deprivation. But, doctors who are burned out are challenged with extreme sleep deprivation, the symptoms of which include slowed thinking, reduced attention span, worsened memory, poor or risky decision-making, lack of energy and mood changes.

  9. 5 Substance Abuse
  10. Substance abuse has long been acknowledged to cause physician impairment. Multiple studies have found a higher risk of suicide and alcohol use disorder in doctors suffering from burnout.

Other symptoms of physician burnout are anxiety and depression. The lifetime risk of depression among doctors is estimated to be as high as 15 percent for men and 20-30 percent for women.

How to Utilize Technology to Reduce Physician Burnout

Nobody has the answers to eliminating burnout, whether for physicians or other working professionals. In many industries, though, technology is utilized to streamline processes, and medicine is no different.

Many healthcare technology tools are designed to reduce administrative burdens while improving patient care. The American Medical Association (AMA) notes that physicians who are satisfied with different applications of information technology are four times more likely to be happy with their medical practice.

Two key solutions we at maxRVU offer to help physicians mitigate burnout are telemedicine and mobile charge capture. Both platforms enable doctors to maximize their productivity so they can spend more time away from the office doing what they love.

maxRVU Telemedicine offers high-quality video streaming on any smartphone, tablet or computer, with HIPAA-compliant privacy safeguards and no downloads or installation. By offering live video appointments on any smartphone, tablet or computer, physicians can provide care anywhere. This solution also helps healthcare providers reduce the problems associated with staff shortages.

Similarly, maxRVU Charge Capture offers effortless patient billing at the point of care. By utilizing electronic medical charge capture and automating data entry, healthcare providers can realize numerous benefits, from improved patient satisfaction and enhanced profitability to reduced errors and claim denial. The powerful analytics and innovative features of this mobile medical billing solution save physicians valuable time, helping to decrease their in-office hours.

To learn more about the maxRVU suite of solutions that maximize physician productivity while easily increasing revenue — including our remote scribe services, HIPAA secure messaging and interface service — start your free trial today.

If you are a doctor experiencing burnout or know of a colleague who is, here are two free resources to start your journey to better mental health:

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