Physicians, nurses and counselors are ironically some of the professionals most susceptible to “burnout” – a physical or mental collapse caused by chronic stress. If left unchecked, the tendency to “soldier on” through long hours, pressure to see more patients, and entangling government interference can culminate in a prolonged period of exhaustion and poor job performance.
Physicians who suffer from burnout are likely to experience serious setbacks like reduced information processing and visual attention. And these symptoms might have a serious effect on their practice – including errors and misdiagnoses, lower patient satisfaction, and an overall reduced quality of care.
It’s clear that physicians need to take careful steps to avoid running themselves dry. Here are five simple ways you can prevent burnout at your practice:
1. Streamline Office Duties
Using a comprehensive practice management system will decrease stress levels without disrupting your workflow. Web-based practice management systems allow you to save time, money, and minimize day-to-day hassles of running a practice. Check out Medical Web Experts’ Bridge Patient Portal for a simple streamlining solution.
2. Practice Smart Scheduling
Since many practices have “natural cyclicity,” you probably work in high and low seasons. Instead of working a light schedule for a full week, schedule your time off in a way that will help you be more productive when you have heavier work loads.
3. Adjust Your Payment System
Burnout and fee-for-service medicine go hand in hand, so it is a good idea to set up a payment system that generates value and pays physicians for improved health outcomes rather than the amount of services.
4. Use Your Team
Delegating tasks is necessary to prevent burnout. Take a team approach and assign tasks in the clinical and management area that don’t require your immediate attention. When you avoid piling on too many responsibilities, you will be able to focus more on patient care.
5. Take Advantage of Technology
Making use of the technology options available will save valuable time and improve the dialogue between patients and providers. There are several apps on the market that allow for speedy diagnosis, patient monitoring improvement, and reducing unnecessary visits to a physician or hospital.
Some helpful apps to prevent burnout include:
CliniCam: allows doctors to take photos of a patient’s condition with their phones and to upload the images to the patient’s electronic medical record.
Epocrates: gives doctors basic information about drugs, the right dosing for adults and children, and warnings about harmful interactions.
UpToDate: provides reference material doctors can consult when making treatment decisions.
Burnout is common, but not inevitable. You owe it not only to yourself, but to the patients and coworkers who depend on you, to prioritize your physical and mental health and stabilize your practice with burnout-prevention tools and strategies.