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How to Relieve Physician Burnout–Telemedicine

November 4, 2019 | By | Reply More

Telemedicine and Physician Burn Out

 

 

“Almost 50 percent of physicians, regardless of specialty and work environment, show signs of burnout” Telemedicine can change that.

 

So often, when people hear that you’re a doctor they immediately think, “Wow, big money, big house, country club, and fancy vacations. Must. Be. Nice.”

 

While some of that may be true, they usually fail to see what being a doctor is like from behind the scenes. For example, the strenuous work and ungodly long hours mean you rarely see your big house or are able to join your family on those vacations.

 

ER physician and blogger, known as Dr. ShadowFox, knows these realities all too well, and has no problem admitting to them.

 

“A normal day at my job is hard: I’m running nonstop for 8 to 12 hours, I’m constantly interrupted, I have patients making demands of my attention and empathy, I’m saturated with information and need to make rapid decisions without adequate information, and I know that if I make an error or miss some important piece of information, the human, professional and financial consequences can be disastrous. It’s a pressure cooker… And that’s a day where things go well.”

 

 

Burn Out, the real deal

Studies show that burnout can begin very early in a doctor’s career, and are more severe in some specialties.

 

“In the study on residents, Liselotte N. Dyrbye, MD, MHPE, of the Mayo Clinic…45% reported burnout symptoms and 14% regretted their career choice.” (Free registration required to read full article.)

 

 

According to an American Medical Association’s annual study on physician burnout, the specialties with the highest burnout rates include (from highest to lowest): Family medicine, pediatrics, dermatology, and radiology.

 

One of the biggest reasons for burnout, says Catherine Hambley, PhD in Physician’s Practice, is a lack of work/life balance. More so than any other career or occupation.

 

“In a national study conducted in the Journal of Graduate Medical Education, almost 50 percent of physicians, regardless of specialty and work environment, show signs of “burnout” — indicative of longer-term stress — causing a decrease in self-worth, overall happiness, and energy level. Burnout has significant implications: it not only has deleterious effects on one’s own emotional well-being, it also affects interpersonal interactions (i.e., staff, patients, and family).”

 

 

This corroborates a study by Tait D. Shanafelt, MD; Sonja Boone, MD; Litjen Tan, PhD, et al, which found that “more than 40% of doctors reported dissatisfaction with their work-life balance, saying their jobs didn’t leave enough time for a personal life or family, compared with 23.1% of non-doctors. In addition, while higher levels of education were associated with less risk of burnout for people in other professions, doctors’ advanced degrees didn’t afford them the same protection from job-related stress.

 

 

Telemedicine to reduce burnout

Is there a way to mitigate the effects of burnout? How can you continue working in a career you invested so much to be in, without risking something drastic as a result of burnout?

 

There are many ways to alleviate the stress of such a demanding position. Unfortunately, some solutions such as attending therapy or taking a vacation only add more to your schedule. Not only that, but when you are not in therapy or on vacation, you still have the same work environment with the same demands to attend to.

 

 

As a non-medical person, but someone who has researched the benefits of remote work, my suggestion is for physicians to consider using telemedicine for some or all of their practice.

 

While telemedicine still hasn’t become mainstream, many physicians are willing to try it. A study by American Well, in collaboration with QuantiaMD found that 57 percent of physicians would be willing to use telemedicine with their patients.

 

According to American Well, “Work-life balance was the most popular reason physicians cited for seeing patients over video, followed by increased earning opportunity, and improved patient outcomes.”

 

ChironHealth, a provider in telemedicine services, promotes their service saying,

 

“Telemedicine gives providers the option to work from home part of the time, or to see patients outside of traditional office hours. In fact, many providers find that telehealth technology helps them maintain a healthier work/life balance. For example, it is common for medical providers to report being reluctant to take a vacation or travel on business. Telemedicine reduces this anxiety because a video visit can be conducted from anywhere. Providers who use it can travel far from home, confident that they can still provide patient care if needed.”

 

 

Telemedicine Options

If you would like to consider improve your work/life balance using telemedicine, below are listed fifteen companies that seek to add physicians to their network. It is an option that has worked well to improve work/life balance for physicians.

 

“Everyone knows that physician burnout is on the rise and new technology and telemedicine can help give doctors more work-life balance,” says Dr. Saya Nagori  “I encourage doctors to not shy away from telemedicine, but rather, become part of the conversation, and help to shape its future.”

 

 

Specialty–Psychiatry

Advanced Telepsychiatry’s mission is to provide real time psychiatric evaluations through tele-video conferencing in an efficient and effective manner, so that patients in need of psychiatric evaluation will not suffer due to inaccessibility of psychiatric intervention due to physician shortage, geography, inability to travel, or any other reason. They are looking for psychiatrists to work from home to remotely treat clients.

 

American Telepsychiatrists is seeking Independent Contractor Psychiatrists to see patients via videoconferencing telepsychiatry. They are also looking for Licensed Psychologists, therapists, social workers, and life coaches.

 

a-Psychiatry has been the industry leader in providing telepsychiatry services, staffing and technology through our proprietary ex-PsychiatryPro platform to US and international hospitals, health systems, outpatient clinics, EDs, FQHCs, long-term care facilities, provider practices, health plans, employers, correctional institutions and patients that need timely access to high demand provider specialties.  e-Psychiatry works with psychiatrists, psychiatric NP’s and other mental health providers to provide coverage for mental health clinics, hospitals and insurance providers across the country via telepsychiatry.

 

Encounter Telehealth addresses a growing demand for psychiatric services in rural areas by enabling remote communication between a patient and a licensed psychiatric provider. Assess, diagnose and provide therapy and medication management from your home office or practice. Encounter Telehealth is looking for Psychiatrists and Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioners (PMHNPs) to provide mental health services via our telehealth platform.

 

FasPsych provides telepsychiatry services to hospitals, jails, nursing homes, and other places in need of immediate psychiatric service. They are seeking home-based psychiatrists to service patients remotely. Psychiatrists must be licensed in their state.

 

 

Specialty–General Medicine

American Well makes online doctor visits accessible to everyone for one-off care issues like colds or infections, and chronic condition management, such as diabetes or depression. They deliver healthcare into people’s homes and workplaces through their work with top health plans, health systems and employers, as well as their telehealth app, Amwell. They seek home-based physicians in multiple specialties including family practice, ER, pediatrics, nutrition, dermatology and behavioral health

 

eviCore healthcare (eviCore) offers proven, diversified medical benefits management solutions that help clients reduce costs while increasing quality of care for their members. The company provides these solutions to managed care organizations and risk-bearing provider organizations serving commercial, Medicare, and Medicaid populations.  They are seeking remote medical directors in all specialties.

 

HealthTap connects millions of people around the world with the most trusted health information and doctors. With top-rated web and mobile apps, HealthTap offers immediate and free access to relevant, reliable, and trusted health answers from a network of more than 85,000 U.S.-licensed doctors. Seeking qualified doctors to join their network and provide healthcare advice/services online.

 

MyOnCallDoc delivers patients one-on-one access to U.S. board-certified physicians and healthcare professionals 24/7, 365 days a year via audio or video. They are always seeking physicians and medical providers of all specialties to consult with patients via audio or video chat.

 

At TimelyMD, we care about every piece of the healthcare puzzle. We are a select team of thinkers at the intersection of business, technology and healthcare. From patients to providers to business decision-makers, were driven to improve quality of life for all.

 

 

Specialty–Radiology

Argus Radiology provides comprehensive teleradiology services. They are seeking radiologists to work from home. All management of credentials and licenses is provided. Malpractice insurance is provided from a nationwide carrier. Salary is very competitive and includes productivity bonuses.  (NOTE: Physicians must be board certified and US based.)

 

Imaging On Call is a radiology services provider. They employ Board certified, fellowship trained radiologists that are skilled in all imaging modalities and have a wide variety of subspecialties. They offer full-time, half- time, and part-time opportunities.

 

Strategic Imaging MD is a teleradiology company that offers specialty radiology reads by board certified and fellowship trained radiologists. They seek home-based, independent contractor teleradiologists throughout the US. Multiple state licenses a plus. Must be willing to read the following without exception: X ray, US to include OB, CT, MRI.

 

Telemedicine Clinic is a sub-specialist radiology centre that provides day and night reporting services and support to more than 100 public service hospitals and local health authorities in Europe. It is looking for committed and progressive radiologists to join our growing team on part or full-time basis.

 

Virtual Radiologic Corporation (vRad) is a national radiology practice working in partnership with local radiologists and hospitals to optimize radiology’s pivotal role in patient care.  Radiologist positions are virtual and flexible.

 

 

Update: Thinking about gaining multi-state licensure to enable you to expand your telemedicine opportunities? Check out Ezyme’s Guide to Multi-State Medical Licensure for Telemedicine Physicians

 

 

 

Your turn–As a healthcare practitioner, what is your biggest work/life ballance challenge?

 

 

 

 

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Category: Mental Health, Telecommuting, Work-Life Balance

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About the Author ()

Pamela La Gioia has been researching and writing about remote work since the early 1990's. She is CEO/Founder of Telework Recruiting, the leading provider of technical and professional remote career opportunities.

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