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The Whole Healthcare System is Burnt Out

Posted on November 2, 2017 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.


We’ve all seen charts and graphs like the one above. Physician burnout has become a real problem. The EHR has largely become the scapegoat for the physician burnout, but I believe it’s much more complex than that. There are a lot of pressures on doctors that are causing burnout and even physician suicide (a topic which many don’t like to talk about).

Physician burnout is indeed an important topic and one that needs to be addressed. However, I recently saw someone tweeting about physician burnout and in response, someone suggested that we should be talking about Patient Burnout as well. The idea really resonated with me. Especially because I’d never heard anyone talk about patient burnout despite it being a real problem. To better understand the effort, I asked Erin Gilmer to host this week’s #HITsm chat on Patient Burnout. I think we’ll learn a lot about this topic during the chat.

This week I’m at the CHIME Fall Forum with a wide variety of healthcare CIOs. During one of the keynotes, the speaker mentioned physician burnout and it prompted the following tweet:


Indeed. Many healthcare CIOs are burnt out as well. They have so many regulations, so many intiatives, cybersecurity issues, and much much more that’s hitting them from every angle. it’s no wonder that they’re burnt out.

This all made me realize, the whole healthcare system is burnt out. Is there anyone in healthcare that isn’t a little burnt out? Some deal with it better than others, but there’s a lot of burnout all around in healthcare.

This tweet captured the issue of burnout nicely.


How then do we fix all this burnout? I wish I knew the answer. Acknowledging it is the first step, but that still leaves us a long way from a solution. Hopefully we can work towards it for everyone involved.

Physician Burnout Cartoon – Fun Friday

Posted on September 29, 2017 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

If you haven’t noticed, I love irony. That’s why this cartoon from Pediatrician and Cartoonist Dr. Maypole was perfect for a Fun Friday entry.

The sad part of this Fun Friday is that this is far too true for far too many doctors. The one good thing is that people are now recognizing it and working to address it in their workforce as Dr. Maypole suggests we do.

Quadruple Aim of Healthcare Infographic

Posted on May 25, 2017 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

There’s been a lot of talk about the triple aim of healthcare and the need to refocus many of the EHR and healthcare IT solutions on the triple aim. Many of the concepts are really good, but the triple aim is certainly not all encompassing.

This was highlighted really well by this infographic (see below) by Caradigm which suggests a 4th aim that should be added: Improving the work life of health care providers, including clinicans and staff.

The most ironic part of the infographic is the final section which talks about how technology solutions can be used to make providers’ lives better and decrease physician burnout. While I agree that technology solutions could and should help with this problem, the reality is that many of them have just made this problem worse. We could talk about whether the EHR is the whipping boy for regulations, but the EHR definitely is getting the blame for a lot of physician burnout. Will we turn the corner and start seeing technology as an enabler of this 4th aim? Or maybe I should say when will we see this?

Physician EHR Burnout Infographic

Posted on February 9, 2017 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Physician burnout is a hot topic and one that’s not likely to go away anytime soon. There are a lot of elements to physician burnout and I was impressed with how well eMedApps captured the issue of physician burnout in the infographic below.

I think the question of the next decade is going to be, “How do we decrease the administrative tasks the doctors perform?” If we don’t find a satisfactory answer, our healthcare system will be permanently damaged. What’s even scarier is that this seems to be trending worse and not better.

What would you propose to help solve the problem of physician burnout?

Physician EHR Burnout and Administration Tasks - eMedApps

Has the MD Profession Been Irreparably Harmed?

Posted on January 13, 2017 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Physician burnout has been a hot topic lately. You see it anywhere you find a physician. Doctors are tired, worn out, and feel like they’re overworked. Many feel like they’ve become data entry clerks and not doctors. Many doctors feel like all these regulation and reimbursement requirements have gotten between them and the patient. Many are pressured by their employer to hit numbers as opposed to caring for patients.

I could keep going, but you get the point. If you’re a doctor, then you’re living many of these challenges. If you’re not, I’d love to hear from you.

Lately when I’ve heard people talking about the damage the meaningful use, EHR, and now MACRA have caused, I hear those people proclaim that the medical profession has been damaged. Many go on to suggest that irreparable harm has been caused to the medical profession. Is that true?

When I ask these people what the solution is, they say that government should get out of the exam room. While that principle is interesting, it’s not very practical. Most of these doctors that want government out of the exam room still want Medicare to cut them a check for seeing Medicare patients. There’s a big disconnect there and it’s not likely to change.

All of this sidesteps the real issue we have in healthcare. Whenever we talk about lowering the cost of healthcare, that means someone is going to get paid less. Who should that be? Yes, there is the pretty rare scenario that you can lower costs while improving care. I’ve seen examples of this, but it’s an extremely challenging thing to make happen.

Going back to the main question. Is the medical profession irreparably harmed by the implementation of EHR software and other regulations? Certainly, it’s had a significant impact, but I don’t think the harm is impossible to repair. We do need to simplify the hoop jumping that we require from physicians. We do need to improve our EHR software so that it makes the physician workflow more efficient and not less. We do need to find better incentives that provide for health data sharing and deeper engagement with patients. All of these things will help repair the medical profession. Doing so will create a whole generation of doctors who can’t imagine what it was like to practice medicine without an EHR.

MACRA Fallout and Physician Burnout – MACRA Monday

Posted on October 24, 2016 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

This post is part of the MACRA Monday series of blog posts where we dive into the details of the MACRA Quality Payment Program.

I’ve been traveling the past week and still haven’t had time to fully process the MACRA final rule. In fact, it might take me a few weeks to really get things together around what’s in the final rule. It’s better that I take my time and make sure I provide you accurate information than to post early and perpetuate bad information. So, I appreciate your patience.

In the mean time, we’ll still continue on with MACRA Monday talking about some of the impact of the MACRA rule and interesting comments on what’s happening with MACRA. Today I wanted to highlight the vitriol I’ve seen online by many physicians towards MACRA. It’s been pretty ugly.

If I’m being fair to MACRA, most of the hatred has to do with the wave of government regulations and the changes happening across all of healthcare and not just MACRA. In many cases, it just seems that MACRA is the straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back. However, I’ve seen first-hand from more physicians than I can count, a real anger towards MACRA.

I do temper these experiences with the fact that so many physicians barely even know that MACRA exits. That’s not true for the ones complaining on social media, but it definitely feels like even many of those doctors barely realize what is in MACRA (with a few notable exceptions). Instead of specific complaints, they are mostly general complaints about government regulation.

Sadly, I think it kind of reminds me of my experience talking with my 12-year-old son. He’s at the stage of life where no matter what I say as a father he wants to say the opposite. I can literally say something nice to him like “You’re smart” and without even thinking about what I said he’ll knee jerk react “No, I’m not.” It makes no sense and is absolutely frustrating as a parent.

My guess is this is how the people at CMS feel when they hear doctors talking about MACRA. If MACRA was just free government money with no work, my gut is that many doctors would say it’s awful without even looking at the details. Doctors are so burnt out on government regulation that they denounce it without as much as a second thought.

Given some of the past track record, doctors have good reason to react the way they do. Can you point to very many places where meaningful use made a doctor’s life better? There are quite a few general EHR benefits, but very few specific meaningful use benefits. In fact, you can make a strong case that meaningful use added a lot of overhead and almost no value to patients or doctors. Given that, should we be surprised that doctors are afraid of more government regulation?

I’m not surprised, but with that said I also don’t think that MACRA will be the disaster that many make it out to be. In fact, I think it’s an extension of business as usual. This is particularly true in the first year of MACRA where almost no one will get penalized thanks to the MACRA Pick Your Pace options. We’ll see if that creates a pileup in future years.

I’m torn since I think we’re entering one of the most exciting times to be in healthcare. The technologies that are hitting healthcare are quite extraordinary. What we’ll be able to do with the data we’re collecting and will be able to collect in healthcare is going to surprise us all. However, on the other hand regulations are creating a burden on providers that is causing what could be irreparable harm.

Reminds me of that famous line, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”

Be sure to check out all of our MACRA Monday blog posts where we dive into the details of the MACRA Quality Payment Program.

Yet Another Study Says EMRs Contribute to Physician Burnout

Posted on September 21, 2016 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare consultant and analyst with 20 years of industry experience. Zieger formerly served as editor-in-chief of FierceHealthcare.com and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also contributed content to hundreds of healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. Contact her at @ziegerhealth on Twitter or visit her site at Zieger Healthcare.

A Mayo Clinic study recently concluded that – surprise, surprise – that physicians who used EMRs were less likely to be satisfied with the amount of time spent on clerical tasks. But from where I sit, while the story certainly deserves attention, it’s also worth considering how this fits into the problem of physician burnout on the whole.

First, let’s review the study itself. To conduct the study, which appeared in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings, researchers connected with 6,375 physicians in active practice, 5,389 of which (84.5%) reported using EMRs. Meanwhile, of 5,892 physicians who said that CPOE was relevant to their practice specialty, 4,858 (82.5%) said they used CPOE technology.

Researchers concluded that physicians who use EMRs and CPOE had lower satisfaction with time spent in clerical tasks and higher rates of burnout, including when the data was adjusted for age, sex, specialty, practice setting and hours worked per week. The bottom line, researchers said, was that this large national study demonstrated that satisfaction with EMRs and CPOE was generally low.

Now let’s take a look at the big picture on physician burnout. One comprehensive take comes from the American Academy of Family Physicians, whose position paper on the subject includes the following definition of burnout: “A syndrome characterized by a loss of enthusiasm for work (emotional exhaustion), feeling of cynicism (depersonalization), and a low sense of personal accomplishment.”

The AAFP paper, which points out that the phenomenon has been studied for decades, notes that 45.8% physicians are considered to be experiencing at least one symptom of burnout. According to a recent broad-based study, that there is currently a 35.2% overall burnout rate among U.S. physicians.

According to research cited by the AAFP, there’s still no definitive data on what causes physician burnout, but notes that common drivers of family physician burnout include paperwork, feeling undervalued, frustration referral networks, difficult patients, medicolegal issues, and challenges in finding work-life balance.

While I don’t want to minimize the impact that a badly-designed EMR can have a negative impact on a physician’s practice, or underplay the findings of the Mayo study cited above, I think it’s worth noting that the group doesn’t cite EMRs as a specific cause of burnout.

Clearly, physicians don’t like using EMRs for administrative work — and it even appears that they would rather use paper to handle such chores. However, let’s not kid ourselves into thinking that doctors loved documenting on paper either. Complaints about not wanting to finish their charts were common in the paper world too.

And the truth is, as EMRs have gradually shifted from being vehicles to support billing to richer clinical documentation and support tools, it may very well have become harder to use them for routine administrative tasks. Vendors probably need to reconsider yet again the balance between clinical and administrative features, and how effective both are.

That being said, I think it’s important not to forget that physicians are facing many, many challenges, most of which began grinding away at their independence and self-respect well before EMRs became an established part of the picture.

Unfortunately, it’s likely that for some physicians, feeling forced to adopt an EMR has proven to be the straw that broke the camel’s back. And they certainly deserve a hearing. But if in the process, we allow ourselves to lose sight of the countless other problems physicians are struggling with, we are doing them a disservice. Addressing physicians’ EMR issues won’t fix everything that’s broken here.

Physician Burnout

Posted on July 26, 2016 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

At the HIMSS Annual conference, I talked with Vishal Gandhi, CEO of ClinicSpectrum, about a popular topic at the conference and well beyond: Physician Burnout. You can watch the full video interview I did with Vishal below:

Physician Burnout is such an important topic and I love that Vishal commented that physician satisfaction (the remedy to burnout) is good patient care and an appropriate reward. As it is today, the trend is to ask doctors to compromise good patient care and we’re paying them less in the process. Is there any wonder why physician burnout is so rampant?

Vishal also commented that healthcare technology is used more for documentation than patient care. He argued that the tech piece has focused far too much on documentation as opposed to focusing on the patient. I’d argue that if we focused the tech on the patient, doctors would appreciate technology much more and would be less burnt out.

Finally, I’m always interested to hear what non-EHR technologies Vishal and ClinicSpectrum have launched to make a practice more efficient and profitable. He outlines a bunch of them in the video above. Take a listen and see if some of them can make your life easier and your practice more profitable. It’s time we start considering technology outside the EHR that can make a practice better.

Physician Burnout Graphic

Posted on June 3, 2016 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

This was a really impactful graphic that seemed perfect for a Friday post on Physician Burnout:
Physician Burn Out Graphic

Thanks Rasu for sharing it.

Here’s the list of physician burnout items for those following along at home:

  • Patient Generated Data
  • Quality Metrics
  • Other Health Professionals
  • Telemedicine
  • Lack of Genomic Knowledge
  • Reimbursement
  • Retail Based Clinics
  • EHR Frustration
  • Transparency Office Notes
  • Algorithms
  • Super and Cloud Computing
  • Scorecards
  • Online Health Social Networks
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Online Reviews; Getting Yelped
  • Relative Value Units

Was there something left off the list? Do we really need to add any more to the list to understand why physicians are getting burnt out? Do you see any relief on the horizon?

Halamka Ponders The Need to Leave Medicine If We Continue Our Current Trajectory

Posted on May 5, 2016 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

The famous Dr. John Halamka, Hospital CIO, Doctor, Former member of the HIT Policy committee, blogger at Life as a Healthcare CIO, recently read the 962 page MACRA NPRM and he wrote up a detailed look at the IT elements of MACRA. The post is worth a read if you’re interested in MACRA. Especially if you don’t want to spend the 20 hours reading it that he spent.

MACRA aside, he ends his post with this bombshell of a comment:

As a practicing clinician for 30 years, I can honestly say that it’s time to leave the profession if we stay on the current trajectory.

A doctor in the comments shared a similar view to Dr. Halamka:

Wow, I feel exactly the same as you do. As a front line ortho provider in a small group. I think now I get the message. CMS and ONC wants us out of private practice, either retire, or join as a salaried doc or hospital employee. That is the only justification for this 1000 page nightmare.

We’ve written a lot about physician burnout and many doctors distaste of all this government regulation, but having someone like John Halamka comment like this is quite telling. What’s scary for me is that I don’t see much light at the end of the MACRA tunnel from a physician perspective. Do you?