Magazine article Medical Economics

Managing the Time Crunch

Magazine article Medical Economics

Managing the Time Crunch

Article excerpt

How many cups of coffee fuel your typical day? If your experience mirrors some trends in patient visits and hours worked revealed by participants in Medical Economics' 84th Annual Exclusive Physician Productivity Survey, you may have found that you're needing a little more caffeine as you pack additional patient visits into your already-busy days.

Much depends on the demographics related to you and your practice (see "Survey highlights" on this page, and the article beginning on page 22 for details), but overall, our research found that, in 2011, office visits increased slightly for primary care physicians (PCPs), although the number of hours worked hasn't really changed.

And PCPs' busy days increasingly include searching for or mastering an electronic health record system, trying to attest to meaningful use for government incentive payments, deciphering new practice and payment models, and being extra diligent not to make a documentation error that might trigger a visit spurred by heightened federal anti-fraud efforts- all while trying to prepare for an influx of new patients as more Americans become insured under the Affordable Care Act.

It's no wonder that a recent Mayo Clinic study found that PCPs are among the types of doctors most at-risk for burnout More than half of the general internists and family physicians responding to researchers reported suffering some form of burnout. You are on the "front lines" of patient care so are more susceptible to the feelings of emotional exhaustion and cynicism that characterize burnout, according to the study's authors, writing online for the Archives of Internal Medicine.

These authors note that the effects of burnout include lower quality of care, reduced hours, and early retirement; they are consequences the U.S. healthcare system can ill afford as it tends to a physician shortage.

While policymakers grapple with potential systemwide solutions, it may help to revisit some tips to prevent or alleviate burnout- albeit some easier said than done- from the healthcare consultants at the Studer Group:

* Speak up before your burnout reaches crisis mode. …

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