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Doctor Burnout

Sixty-eight percent of US-based physicians surveyed reported experiencing burnout at some level, according to a…

  • August 20, 2019

Sixty-eight percent of US-based physicians surveyed reported experiencing burnout at some level, according to a new study by life science market insights provider InCrowd.

The survey of US-based primary care (PCPs) physicians and specialists, performed in early June 2019, documents an aggregate burnout level across multiple specialties that is higher than the 43-54% range found in MedScape’s 2019 national report yet lower than the 80% of The Physicians Foundation/Merritt Hawkins biennial survey of September 2018.

With PCPs, however, InCrowd found nearly 80% burnout levels—dramatically higher than the 43.9% cited in an American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) study of March 2019, which itself reflected a decline from 54.4% in 2014. Only 25% of InCrowd respondents felt their facilities were effectively addressing burnout.

InCrowd has been following the trend of physician burnout over the years and this year’s InCrowd survey details the seemingly intractable issues across different practice settings and demographic groups. Key findings from the research include:

  • Primary care physicians report higher burnout rates than specialists, with 79% of PCPs personally experiencing burnout compared with 57% of specialists.
  • Of the 23% who said that specialty plays a large role in burnout, respondents were split as to whether PCPs vs. specialists were more affected.
  • Burnout is highest among younger physicians, with those in their 30s and 40s reporting highest rates of burnout (74%), and burnout rates dropping thereafter.
  • More than one-third (34%) of physicians would not recommend the profession to young family members, with 32% citing that it’s not worth the sacrifices, financial, emotional, and otherwise.

“It would be hard to see someone you care about go through the stress of medical school, residency, and fellowship knowing that they will face pressure to see as many patients as possible, EMR stress, administrative duties, etc. all while being reimbursed less and less with time,” said a specialist in a group practice.

  • Hospital employees report slightly worse metrics for addressing burnout (20% effective) compared to those who work across private practices (27% effective).
  • As for what’s working, those who report that their facilities effectively address burnout credit workplace initiatives that improve workflow (46%), provide schedule flexibility (45%), and support wellness (41%).
  • When asked what actions their facilities could take to alleviate the issue of physician burnout, over half of respondents report that increased support staffing (66%), mandatory vacation time or half-days (57%), and reduced patient volume (56%) are likely to help.
  • In verbatim suggestions for fixes to the burnout issue 51% focused on addressing the administrative burden. Ideas included the use of scribes for dealing with electronic medical records and providing admin time—40 mins per day and one half-day per week.