Results from a Mayo Clinic Proceedings survey show an alarmingly high rate of burnout among physicians. 63% of physicians reported having at least one symptom of burnout at the beginning of 2022, an increase from 44% in 2017. The trends are fairly consistent across specialties.
Are you or a colleague struggling with burnout? Here are five actions physicians in private practice can take to recenter and refocus on their priorities.
Delegate or outsource non-patient-facing activities to the right people
You already know that you should delegate or outsource non-patient-facing practice functions you’re not good at, don’t enjoy, or aren’t a good use of your time. But, make sure you pick people who are good at and enjoy them—and share your vision and values for your practice—to be responsible for them. Establishing key metrics to manage these activities is paramount, along with reviewing them with your team on a regular basis. The time and peace of mind from delegating well will free up time for you to focus on what you do best: delivering exceptional patient care.
Align your physician compensation plan to practice and individual needs
With unlimited access to information about physician productivity and pay these days, perceived unfairness can significantly contribute to burnout and poor productivity. As such, establish a cadence for you and your partners to discuss the practice’s performance relative to its objectives, and the impact of each respective physician towards their individual and company-wide goals. This discussion can be difficult, but it strengthens partnerships and mitigates burnout.
Live with your electronic medical record
It’s not your imagination. Your EMR can worsen burnout by adding unneeded extra expense, inefficiency, and frustration. Focus on four aspects to alleviate the pain: (1) have clear “must have” functionalities and optimize for them, (2) accept the EMR’s shortcomings and make sure yours has ones you can live with, (3) beware of costly non-core or theoretical “bells and whistles,” and (4) account for the total cost of system and staff requirements.
Collaborate with like-minded physicians
Just as a strong community is the key to happiness and longevity, collaboration with like-minded physicians can help alleviate burnout. Whether it’s working toward a common goal, receiving and sharing ideas, or just commiserating and socializing, collaboration with other physicians can be invigorating. The key is for the engagement to be active and the give-get to be mutual.
Be smart about which team you join
Selling your practice to a hospital or joining a bigger, better one may seem like a practical solution to offloading administrative hassles. However, you may paradoxically be making things worse by giving up control. Make sure you retain influence as part of a large enough group, within a structure run by physicians like you, or with a track record of happy, successful physicians like you.
LifeFlow Partners is a physician-owned private equity firm for vascular surgery and interventional practices, and we’re committed to optimizing the value of your practice before a sale.
Learn about how LifeFlow Partners is leveling the playing field for outpatient endovascular practices so physicians can benefit from every stage of growth. [email protected].