Hidden sources of burnout that you can fix

Physician burnout is widely considered a pernicious epidemic that puts physician and patient health at risk. Frustratingly, it’s also often assumed that inescapable facts of physician life are to blame: increasing documentation demands; mandatory EMR technology that’s far less than ideal; and a physician culture that prizes self-reliance and endurance over self-care. Individual practices may not be able to move the needle at all on these huge factors, but we don’t have to throw up our hands and give up on avoiding or ameliorating burnout. There are many small but significant changes that managers and owners can make that can have a positive impact on physicians’ work lives, reducing stress and boosting morale – and the great news is these changes often bring other benefits to the practice business. Fairness and transparency: technology can help I often write about technology that can help practices run better. It’s one of my favorite topics, partly because I feel that challenging EMR implementations have left many physicians and administrators feeling very skeptical about technology and hesitant to adopt recent innovations – even ones that were developed in a more physician- and practice-focused way. Many newer tech tools can both increase practice efficiency and improve communication and transparency, changing physicians’ work lives for the better. For example, for specialties with on-call responsibilities, scheduling is often a massive chore. When the process is regarded as a “black box,” it can be a source of stress and distrust. On-call scheduling usually involves a patchwork of requirements and assumptions. When the rules aren’t automated, crafting a compliant schedule is a tedious process usually handled by one or two experts (who had better not get hit by a bus, lest all that knowledge disappear!). Even something as simple as two physicians swapping call can throw a monkey wrench into the works. Tech solutions for on-call scheduling address all these operational issues. They’re marketed mainly as a means to streamline scheduling and reduce errors and liability – worthy and profitable advantages to be sure. But there are happy byproducts of automating the schedule – such as making sure it