Are you and your staff spending so much time scheduling patient appointments, processing insurance forms, and filing notes that you don’t feel you can be giving your patients the personal care they deserve? If so, you and your staff might be suffering from burnout, evidenced by fatigue, irritability and absenteeism. Burnout is caused by long-term stress, emotional exhaustion and a diminished sense of personal accomplishment.[i] We don’t have all the answers for burnout, but below are some quick and easy steps you can take to reduce the stresses that contribute to burnout.
Promote Employees’ Emotional and Mental Health
Health care workers are especially susceptible to emotional stress, yet they are among the least likely to seek help. The stigma surrounding emotional and mental health issues seems to be especially strong among health care professionals, due to the expectations of health care organizations, licensing boards and other organizations.[ii] Doctors may fear that they will jeopardize their license. They also feel an exceptional sense of responsibility for others. Many doctors and other health care workers suffer from self-doubt that might border on an imposter syndrome.[iii] You make a significant difference in the personal well-being of your staff and your practice by working to remove the stigma. Talk with your staff individually to gauge their needs and offer support, advice and resources to assist them.
Reduce the Stress
The time has come to reduce the burdens on your doctors and administrative staff. Start by ditching the paper. If you still have cabinets full of patient files, you need to digitize. Your staff shouldn’t be filling out forms and filing reams of documents away. Modern practice management software and electronic health records (EHRs) can handle everything from patient scheduling to physician note taking to billing and insurance claim submissions. Patients can even fill out their forms online prior to their appointment to eliminate your staff doing redundant data entry. Keeping your records electronically also allows doctors in your network to share patient data, submit prescriptions directly to pharmacies and maintain more accurate and up-to-date records.
Improve Your Practice’s Efficiency
Building an office that runs smoothly and efficiently will further reduce the stress on your staff and enable members to focus where they can experience the most personal success. Specify time each week to work through everything you have put off during the week. This applies to you and your staff. Answer those pending emails, digitize paper files, deep clean the lab, catch up on research, and so on. Your work backlog includes anything that has been nagging you but that you just haven’t prioritized among all your more pressing tasks. The freedom of clearing out these annoyances will help you better focus on those things that are more important.