Study Shows Rise in Physician Burnout, Female Doctors Report Higher Levels of Dissatisfaction

Oct. 31, 2018
Two-thirds of physicians say the challenges of practicing medicine in today’s environment have caused them to consider career options outside of clinical practice, an 11 percent increase compared to a similar survey three years ago.

Two-thirds of physicians say the challenges of practicing medicine in today’s environment have caused them to consider career options outside of clinical practice, an 11 percent increase compared to a similar survey three years ago.

Most physicians surveyed (89 percent) say the “business and regulation of healthcare” has changed the practice of medicine for the worse. The intensity of agreement has increased over time; today, 57 percent strongly agree, up from 48 percent in 2015, according to a survey of 300 full-time physicians by Geneia, a Harrisburg, Pa.-based healthcare analytic solutions and services company.

According to Geneia’s Physician Misery Index, a tool the company established to measure national physician satisfaction, the physician misery index has increased to 3.94 out of 5, since the January 2015 inaugural survey.

The survey found that 87 percent of surveyed physicians say they find it is increasingly harder to spend time “developing an authentic engagement with each patient,” and 80 percent say they are personally at risk for burnout at some point in their career.

Nearly all surveyed doctors (96 percent) report they have personally witnessed or personally experienced negative impacts as a result of physician burnout.

What’s more, 86 percent of surveyed physicians agree with the statement: The heightened demand for data reporting to support quality metrics and the business-side of healthcare has diminished my joy in practicing medicine.

Geneia’s survey also indicated that physicians continue to be challenged by the electronic health record (EHR). About two-thirds (68 percent) of physicians say the data collected by EHRs isn’t being used and analyzed to its full potential. Almost all of the respondents (96 percent) believe it’s important for EHRs to be better designed so they seamlessly integrate with technology systems used by their office and insurers.

Despite increasing awareness of pervasiveness of physician burnout, the nationwide Physician Misery Index has increased from 3.78 in January 2015 to 3.94 out of 5 in this most recent survey, the company said.

The survey also revealed a physician burnout gender gap. Female physicians, in particular, are frustrated by the challenges of practicing medicine and expressed greater dissatisfaction than their male counterparts. Female survey respondents are more likely to know a physician who is likely to stop practicing medicine due to burnout (77 percent compared to 67 percent of men).

Women are considering options outside clinical practice at a higher rate (73 percent), as compared to men (62 percent). Female physicians also are more at risk for burnout at 89 percent, compared to male physicians at 76 percent.

“In the years since Geneia’s inaugural Physician Misery Index, awareness of epidemic levels of physician burnout has increased dramatically,” Heather Lavoie, Geneia president, said in a statement. “Yet, there is much more work for all of us in healthcare to do to restore the Joy of Medicine to today’s physicians. We’re calling on all health IT companies to involve physicians in the design and implementation of health technology products and to measure physician satisfaction.”

Physicians interested in taking the health IT satisfaction survey can find it here.

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