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Today on Insights. We go back to a conversation Host Bill Russell had with Dr. David Bensema. The topic of discussion was Physician Burnout. And Bill asks David, where are we at with physician burnout today and is there a risk with speaking up?


Hello and welcome to another episode of Insights. My name is Bill Russell. I'm a former CIO for a 16 hospital system ???? and creator of This Weekin Health IT. A channel dedicated to keeping health IT staff current and engaged. Our hope is that these episodes serve as a resource for the advancement of your career and the continued success of your team. Now onto the ???? show.

Today on insights. We go back to a conversation host Bill Russell had with David Bensema. The topic of discussion was physician burnout. And Bill asks David, where are we at with physician burnout today? And is there a risk of speaking up?

When I sat behind a physician at one point and just, you know mirrored them for the day, I was shocked to find, you know, they were jumping in to all these essentially PDF files and they, you know, so they have 15 minutes with a patient and they're, think about it, like you have this folder full of 25 PDFs and you're just rifling through them real quick. It really is an impossible job. So we're going to talk a little bit about the role of IT and physician burnout.

I just appreciate your physician background, I'm going to use it here. Let me ask you this. Let's start with the current state. Where do you think we're at with regard to physician burnout today and you know, what are you hearing out there?

I'm hearing a lot about it. The last AMA annual meeting, I'm a delegate for the state of Kentucky to the AMA. The last meeting was dominated by conversations regarding physician burnout that showed that physicians were spending two times as much time on the EHR as they were with patients. That the burnout level was going up. That physicians career satisfaction was plummeting.

ence, I came into practice in:

But it didn't do anything for the patient physician interaction and for the quality of care we were delivering patients. All of that builds up on the physicians. And so now we are seeing a critical mass. We're seeing that over 50% of the physicians interviewed and surveyed are lamenting that they're losing their satisfaction.

They're losing connectedness. Depression rates have gone up among physicians. They were high to begin with. I mean, it's always been a stressful, difficult role. It needed compartmentalization. Now we don't have time to compartmentalize. We, we are racing from patient to patient and still have the record waiting for us.

And then we go home and we feed the kids, tuck them in and spend another two and a half, three hours on the computer. And you hear this over and over again. The thing that kind of amazes me about HHS and ONC doing this listening session. You do these listening sessions when you really don't want to do something, or you're not ready or capable of doing something, right.

Because they have all this information. I just mentioned a year and a half ago we had it. I think that's one of the things that galls me about this. This was just placation and delay. If they really want to get something done, get to work on interoperability. Reduce some of the cumbersomeness. They are at least talking to us HHS and I think they mentioned it. They're talking about reducing some of the MIPS requirements and easing some of that burden. But if they've got to quit being in the physician, patient business, as much as they are. I have a very good friend Doctor Sean Jones, former President of the Kentucky Medical Association who just published a book, Finding Heart in Art.

It's about his journey of burnout. I think it's an incredibly brave thing for him to do. He's a prominent ears, nose and throat physician in his community and prominent within the medical community at large. But it was a great gift on his part. Other physicians, it's not every physician's journey, but the fact that he would take the time out of his life and his wife would allow him.

She's also a physician, would allow him to expose himself this. It tells you how severe this is. How critical burnout for physicians is. And I think we as CIOs have an opportunity to help by really looking at the workflows and demanding of our vendors, improveed workflow.

Is there a risk in speaking out against some of these things?

I mean, is there a risk right now of talking about you know, certain technology. So if I were to sit here and say, you know, Epic and Cerner, you know, have created way too many clicks and way too much, or if I sit here and say Health and Human Services, ONC MACRA, MIPS, these things have put way too many burdens.

Is there, is there a blowback that happens to people that are speaking out about these kinds of things or are we past that now where there's just so much of it going on that it's just a matter of getting to the right people to get the right things done.

Yeah. I think the risk is probably perceived to be there more by folks who don't have a clinical background. Those of us who have been practicing physicians, I think we're past worrying about the risk. We're desperate to find the right answer. And we feel that for the sake of our patients and for access to care, because when you burn out physicians, they resign their positions, they leave the practice and access goes down.

So if we're going to do that, I think we get over the fear. I think, and I know from conversations with the folks at Epic, I haven't talked to the folks at the other large EHRS but with conversations with folks at Epic and watch it UGM and it some of the other conferences, folks are getting in their face.

They're doing it in a civil way, which we always ought to do it in a civil way. But people are being very forthright about what the problems are and they are starting to respond. And you're seeing some of that in the workflow changes. You're seeing some responses. But I think that Bill to your point, these very clicky systems that are incredibly complex coding, and to go back and correct that and to streamline workflows is a big lift.

And I think it's just getting a critical mass of all of us saying, okay, no more. We're not going to tolerate this any longer. You've got to do better. And then I think we'll start moving.

Wow, thanks for tuning in another great episode. If you have feedback for us regarding this content and materials, or if you would like to help us to amplify great thinking to propel healthcare forward, which is our ???? mission, please send us a note at Thanks for listening. That's all for now. ????

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