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How can time-restricted, overburdened physicians find time to meet their responsibilities while still providing consistent, quality patient care?
Physicians today are experiencing more demands on already busy schedules, and it’s taking a toll on their personal health and professional accuracy.
The following scenario is just one of many that numerous physicians face daily as they try to balance the requirements of their career.
The loud buzzing of my phone woke me at 1:30am, just two hours after I had fallen asleep, and five hours before my alarm clock would ring. It was the nursing home where I am the attending physician for six patients.
I am sorry to bother you, doctor, but Mrs. C. fell out of bed and the procedures say to call you.
Did you check her for injuries? I ask.
Yes, doctor, there are no apparent injuries.
Is she complaining of any pain?
Ok. Mark it in her chart and keep an eye on her, I reply.
It would be easier to manage if these calls were few and far between, but the reality is, with our litigious society they are becoming more frequent as the healthcare industry does everything possible to minimize culpability.
Meanwhile, expectations put on already over-burdened physicians continue to grow. In a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, researchers at Mayo Clinic found that physicians are more burned out than workers in any other profession. According to the research, doctors in the U.S. are working an average of 10 hours more per week, and are nearly two times likely to be dissatisfied with their work-life balance. Additionally, the increase in patients and related responsibilities forces physicians to spend less time on patient evaluation, interaction, and chart notations. This can result not only in decreased quality care, but also in a loss of revenue due to improper discharge notes and orders, which result in insufficient billing.
Growing concerns about the impact of the Affordable Care Act on primary care doctors push physicians further from healthy time-life-patient balance. As tens of millions of currently uninsured Americans gain access to healthcare, how will we manage?
Technology can help shoulder the burden. Utilizing telephone nurse triage, physicians can ensure that patients are receiving prompt, quality care based on standardized protocols combined with custom orders. As a result, many physicians who have incorporated telephone nurse triage find that their phone doesn’t ring at all hours of the night, they are able to spend more time focusing on their patients during office visits, and can rest assured that everything is properly recorded in the computer for efficient billing. Additionally, telephone nurse triage provides a flexibility that allows physicians to more easily adjust their schedule to help create a better life-work balance and avoid joining the ranks of the “burnt-out.”
Physicians need to proactively find effective solutions to the increasing burdens of our healthcare system. As such, it seems highly prudent to fully utilize the quality technology that is available, and help create a better system instead of a broken one.
Related Article: Physician Burnout: Causes, Consequences, and Care
Sarasohn-Kahn, J. (Dec. 2012). The physician time-squeeze and burnout: just-in-time information is part of the solution. In HealthPopuli. Retrieved April 11, 2013.