How physicians deliver care has seen unprecedented changes this year, and it has brought numerous challenges to light, including the importance of prioritizing physician wellness.
Physician burnout is incredibly common and widely known to cause declines in job satisfaction. Some of the main contributors to physician burnout include healthcare reform and payment policies, burdensome medical record documentation and coding requirements, and professional liability, to name a few (per the American Medical Association).
Add the safety risk of treating coronavirus patients, reduced patient volumes and revenue due to the cancellation of millions of elective surgeries (which is now causing backlogs), and the severity of physician burnout keeps growing. Fortunately, there is a solution that is proving helpful in relieving burnout and stress – telemedicine.
“Telehealth’s at-scale adoption clearly shows that the combination of need, urgency, and a will to overcome challenges can drive the rapid adoption of practical and useful innovations not only for safety and care delivery but for addressing physician burnout now,” says Jared Pelo, M.D.
The use of telemedicine has skyrocketed because of the pandemic. Physicians have seen an increase of between 50 and 175 times the number of patients via telehealth than they did before the pandemic (per McKinsey & Company). Nearly 60% of providers now view telemedicine more favorably, and many patients feel the level of care is the same or better than in-person doctor visits (per the 2020 Doximity State of Telemedicine Report). Additionally, 50% of patients ranked their cell phones as their preferred device – underscoring that patients may want to communicate with their doctor much like they do with family and friends (per the same Doximity report).
There are many reasons telemedicine can help alleviate physician burnout and stress. Here are four:
- It allows doctors to focus more on patient care. Doctor visits via telemedicine protect patients and doctors from the virus, but it’s also a tremendous tool for better managing chronic health care issues. The ability to check on patients remotely can enable physicians to reinforce treatment adherence and be critical to preventing unnecessary hospital visits. This emphasis on maintaining health can free up physician time and improve patient outcomes by providing quicker, easier access to physician care and guidance.
- Schedules are more manageable. Patients using telemedicine to connect with their doctors are spending less on travel expenses and less time waiting. This also benefits physician offices as patients are less likely to be late to a virtual visit, allowing the office to stick to their daily schedule and avoid running late. Doctors also benefit by seeing patients from the “comfort” of their computer or phone.
- Physicians feel less pressured or rushed for time. When physicians aren’t backed up or rushing around trying to get to the next appointment, they feel more in control and less pressure to see the next patient. They are able to dedicate more time to each patient and be fully present during the visit.
- Doctors spend less time at the office. Telemedicine also allows physicians to complete administrative work while at home versus having to stay late at the office, positively impacting a physician’s mental and emotional health. There’s data that shows a physician’s workload can adversely affect their ability to perform their job well and contribute to burnout.
Telemedicine is a simple solution that provides more flexibility, lowers costs for patients, and allows physicians and patients to connect securely. It can also be a balm for burnout. The question now is how to maintain this supercharged telehealth momentum after the COVID-19 crisis is over.
If you’re recruiting for telemedicine opportunities, we invite you to view the slides from our most recent webinar, Recruiting for the New Frontier: Telemedicine Providers. The new Doximity telemedicine report will also help you understand the shift to virtual care as you discuss telehealth opportunities with candidates. Just click the button get the report.