Physician burnout, stress and depression are escalating, adding to the issues healthcare systems are facing as they navigate the troubled waters of understaffing and rising operational costs. A Medscape survey of 9,100 physicians found that 57% of family physicians report burnout (from 47% five years ago); 60% of internists (46% previously), and 65% of emergency medicine physicians (from 45%). Job burnout (65%) was listed as the primary reason for depression.
The physicians cited increased compensation, a more manageable work schedule, more support staff and respect from colleagues and supervisors as ways to reduce burnout and depression. In reality, given staffing shortages and financial stressors, those systemic improvements can not occur unless significant changes continue in healthcare delivery. One of those changes must be the increased use of telemedicine.
Eagle Telemedicine offers a solution for giving physicians relief. By adding telemedicine to fill in the gap in night coverage and a range of specialties, hospital physicians can achieve a more normal schedule and a healthier work-life balance. As a result, hospitals can better accommodate physician retention. Expanded coverage will also add revenue by reducing patient transfers due to lack of on-site care availability.
One example of how telemedicine supports a better work environment is Eagle Telemedicine’s partner hospital, Iowa Specialty Hospitals & Clinics. Illustrative of many rural and smaller health systems, the facility was finding it difficult to recruit staff to replace retiring physicians. At the same time, those still on staff had no interest in adding hours and being on call 24 x 7. Finding additional support, particularly to cover night shifts, and retaining patients by providing more complete services were goals of the healthcare system.
Eagle Telemedicine supplied a dedicated TeleNocturnist team that provided instant response and nursing support, and improved patient care for high acuity patients that would have previously been transferred to other hospitals. Iowa Specialty Hospitals & Clinics was also able to normalize local providers’ shifts, supporting the desired work-life balance.
Start the Future Now
Telemedicine can be a valuable ally in a healthcare system’s fight to stay economically viable in the decades ahead. We know the shortage projections – 37,800 to 124,000 physicians in the next decade, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges. Remedies like more funding for graduate medical education (GME) to help new doctors begin their careers, and notably, improve care in underserved areas, are valid ideas. However, we believe, in the short and long term, those remedies need to include telemedicine as part of the standard healthcare system.
The health care system’s future is one of rising demand from an aging population, competition for higher revenue specialty care, and the growing cultural need for work-life balance. On the patient side, generations going forward are ‘digital natives’ completely comfortable with telemedicine monitors and screens. Offering them telemedicine services is a natural fit.
Patient acceptance has been documented. The J.D. Power 2022 U.S. Telehealth Satisfaction Study,SM showed “a growing majority of consumers now say they prefer telehealth over in-person visits for a wide range of routine care, including prescription refills, reviews of medication options and to discuss medical results. Additionally, almost all—94%—of telehealth users say they would use the technology to receive medical services in the future.”
Those are promising statistics and great impetus for continued integration of telemedicine into health care delivery. Read more about the Benefits and Efficiencies of Telemedicine in this solution brief, then contact us to get started today.