Physician burnout is not new. The speed at which it is spreading may be.
The rate of burnout among U.S. physicians rose from 45.5 percent to 54.4 percent between 2011 and 2014, according to a 2018 study by researchers at the University of California, Riverside School of Medicine.
Among factors noted in the study, published in the American Journal of Medicine, are frustration with patients who frequently change physicians and do not value continuity of care, as well as insurance company-imposed limits on treatment.
Drilling down into data regarding physician satisfaction, however, the researchers point to mandatory EHR use as a likely significant contributor to the problem. Time spent filling out EHRs creates an enormous burden that further saps physicians’ ability to enjoy their work, they found.
“Doctors now spend more time with electronic health records than they do with patients,” study co-author Andrew G. Alexander, MD, states in a news release about the findings. “Electronic health records were pushed by the government at great expense and without regard to the effects upon patient or physician health. Go into any hospital and look for the nurses and the doctors. You will find them sitting in front of computers. They are not happy, and their patients are not healthier.”
Physicians in emergency medicine, family medicine, internal medicine and pediatrics had the highest levels of burnout.