Over the last few years, burnout has reached an alarming level among healthcare professionals. According to an article published in Cureus, more than half a million physicians and one-third of nurses are experiencing symptoms of burnout.

Needless to say, this not only has an impact on the well-being of doctors and nurses, but it can also be detrimental to their patients.

Burnout is characterized as a combination of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion. Even though burnout can happen to anyone, the healthcare industry is particularly susceptible.

In this article, we’ll discuss the main causes of burnout and stress among healthcare professionals and share tips to alleviate stress and burnout within the workplace, so you can provide better support to your colleagues and better care for your patients.

The Main Reasons Behind Burnout And Stress Among Healthcare Professionals

The healthcare industry is particularly susceptible to burnout. There are a couple of reasons why this happens.

1. Documentation And Billing

The main reason this happens is because of all the paperwork and billing involved with each individual patient.

According to a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, for every hour a doctor spends on patient care, they spend two hours on related paperwork. This time includes charting and other record-keeping tasks, as well as the paperwork associated with different insurance and payor programs.

2. Increased Computerization

In addition, the electronic medical records are contributing to the problem. With the implementation of EMRs, there is an even stronger focus on requiring providers to generate complete and accurate documentation to support the services they deliver. That bill, and the related documentation, must pass the payor’s audit.

Similarly, each payor has different requirements and they all need proper documentation submitted with a claim.

When you take the time spent on creating comprehensive, accurate patient care records and claims into consideration, it’s easy to see how documentation and billing are one of the leading causes of burnout and stress within the healthcare industry.

3. Long Working Hours

Another reason why doctors are overworked and stressed are long working hours that come with being a healthcare professional. According to research published by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA),  the average physician works 51 hours per week. What’s more, one-quarter of US physicians are putting in more than 60 hours of work per week.

Five Tips For Alleviating Burnout Within The Workplace

Now that we’ve shared some of the main reasons behind burnout, let’s take a look at some practical tips for alleviating it.

1. Get To Know Your EMR Software

Since EMRs are here to stay, the best thing you can do is to adopt a positive attitude and the mindset of a power user. Then, implement the following:

Extra training and configuration might seem like it’s going to use even more of your precious free time. The good news is that once you truly get to know the software you’re using, you’ll be more efficient in your workflow.

2. Refine Your Workflow

No matter how long you’ve been in practice, chances are you developed an efficient patient workflow. However, you might find that your workflow relies on habits developed based on physical paperwork rather than electronic documentation.

Instead of trying to manage two separate workflows, come up with ways to combine the two or go digital completely. Look for ways to incorporate EMR software into your entire patient workflow, from the first visit, examination, and diagnosis to prescription and billing.

Accept the fact that EMR is a valuable tool and adjust your patient intake process accordingly. It might take a few weeks to develop an efficient workflow but the earlier you start, the sooner you’ll see the results.

3.Use Your Team

Remember that you don’t have to do everything alone. While you might be used to getting it done by yourself, there are other members of your team who can take over some of the tasks and take them off your shoulders.

However, before you go delegating tasks, gather your team together and go over current tasks and workload. Then, discuss ideas for improving the workflow and see which tasks can be delegated and done more efficiently.

Here are a few examples for starting and leading this discussion in a productive way:

4. Outsource Data Entry Work

Another way to alleviate stress within the workplace is outsourcing your data entry work entirely. For example, you could record your notes as audio files and a company will transcribe the voice files and return them to you in a format compatible with most EMR software.

The benefit of this approach is that you don’t have to hire additional staff members and you can still save time on documentation and billing work.

A few capabilities and areas of value to look for when evaluating a transcription company include:

Some companies will offer a free trial of their services so you can test them out and check their accuracy before making a long-term commitment.

5. Don’t Forget To Unwind And Relax

Our final tip is to keep self-care in mind. Working as a healthcare professional can be stressful and demanding, so ensure you take time regularly to unwind and relax. Make this a part of your routine and indulge in activities you enjoy that can help you alleviate stress.

Regular exercise and meditation are good ways to combat the effects of stress. The good news is that you don’t have to create a complicated or long workout routine. Even 10 minutes of physical activity and movement are beneficial for your well-being and health. The same applies for meditation, and there are even apps that will help you get started and keep going.

Final Thoughts

Working as a healthcare professional can be incredibly rewarding. It can also be stressful when you consider everything that must happen behind the scenes when caring for patients. Use the tips in this article to alleviate the stress within your workplace and manage your workload better.