Physicians today are experiencing more demands on already busy schedules, and it’s taking a toll on their personal health and professional accuracy. According to recent studies, more than half of physicians are reporting burnout, which is defined as a loss of enthusiasm for work, feelings of cynicism, and a low sense of personal accomplishment. However, by establishing a telephone nurse triage service for patients some of this stress and exhaustion can be alleviated.
Effects of Physician Burnout on Physician and Patient
While job burnout may not seem like a serious issue, it can produce critical circumstances when it involves a physician. Reports indicate doctors experiencing burnout have higher levels of divorce, depression, alcohol and drug addiction, and suicide. Additionally, they have lower levels of clinical care quality and patient satisfaction and higher levels of medical errors and malpractice risk. Medical errors are estimated to be the #3 cause of death in the United States and annual costs for medical mistakes are estimated to be between $17 billion and $30 billion. The U.S. healthcare system cannot afford the financial effects of physician burnout.
Better Life-Work Balance
When a physician is on call after office hours or during the weekend, they often receive patient calls interrupting personal time with family or getting their much-needed rest. Even in the cases where doctors receive only a handful of calls over the weekend, the reality is that they interrupt family time and require the physician to stay connected in case a call comes in. Many of the patient calls regularly result in advice that could’ve been given by a nurse. Patients need access to healthcare professionals 24/7 in order to avoid unnecessary ER visits.
Technology can help shoulder the burden. Utilizing telephone nurse triage, physicians can ensure that patients receive prompt, quality care based on standardized protocols. A nurse triage service that uses Schmitt-Thompson protocols combined with the ability for the physician to add their own custom orders is ideal. The combination of service aided by technology allows doctors to sleep through the night and relax when they are off. Doctors are able to rest assured that their patients are being cared for just like an extension of their own office. Calls are also being documented to help doctors follow up when needed.
There is no single solution that will eliminate physician burnout. Providing work-life balance education early in their careers and offering continuing education and assistance for stress management can help many doctors. 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.”
Contact Amy Smith at (855) 734-4463 if you are interested in speaking about a nurse triage solution for your practice.