The Physician Burnout Epidemic


Doctors are expected to be calm, resilient, and even infallible. But the job, by default, is a stressful one. Physicians run out of energy, easily experiencing physical and mental burnout. About 45% of physicians experience burnout every year. Exhaustion is even more evident in specific parts of the job, like the emergency department (ED). Lack of resources or skilled personnel makes unnecessary transfers a necessary step. However, the process can be complicated.

The stressful transfer process

When a patient enters the ED, there are times when a transfer is needed. The hospital may not have the capabilities to treat the patient. The task is left to the doctor to coordinate with other hospitals to move the patient. The drawn-out process can leave doctors frustrated and the patient’s health at risk. The stress can also be a catalyst for doctors to request transfers and leave the hospital altogether.

Allocating tasks with ED management

A great starting point would be to outsource the ED management process. About 60% of doctors work at least 50 hours a week. ED physicians spend a significant number of hours each week managing transfers. By hiring an external, experienced team to manage the process, doctors can focus on patient care. Hospitals can control costs by using a remote or telecase squad, especially in rural hospitals.

Bringing treatment in-house

Another crucial step is to remove the possibility of transfers. By hiring staff that can handle specific issues, hospitals save in the long run. The cost of burnout comes back to the hospital. The time spent coordinating transfers goes back to the hospital. And as a result, patient satisfaction increases, which can increase revenue through incentives. Of course, some hospitals won’t be able to hire exclusive surgeons and specialists. However, focusing on hiring the right persons can transform the team.

Focus on a long-term staffing plan

Physician burnout also costs an astonishing $2.6 billion a year in sick leave, reduced hours, and recruitment. Preventing burnout and transfers means focusing on a long-term plan. Hiring the right leadership can improve relationships and foster a friendly environment.
The right staffing improves the performance of the ED as a whole, with shorter wait times and better patient satisfaction. Even with limited budgets, solutions like telehealth can fill in the gaps, making everyone happier.

Making physician well-being a top priority

Physicians are expected to be resilient, and sometimes even superhuman. Telehealth, remote case management, and additional staff mean doctors work fewer hours. Doctors can de-stress and reduce the chances of illness, depression, and other pressing issues. Like everyone else, physicians have a limited supply of physical and mental energy. At the end of the day, these champions need to recharge and reset.

Improve transfers and physician well-being today

Doctors know, by default, that the job is demanding and stressful. Patients and families are frustrated, expecting urgent care, which can sometimes be impossible. This stress gets increased in an ED when sometimes the only solution is to transfer a patient. However, the transfer process can be stressful. Proper case management takes the task off the physician’s plate and improves the process. Furthermore, telemedicine cuts out the middle man altogether. Most of all, a focus on mental and physical health can help doctors deal with the demands. Hospitals must take the chance to fix both issues for the future of the institution.