Physician Misery Index increases to nearly 4 out of 5

November 06, 2018
Heather Lavoie, President


Emotional stress of young doctor

Geneia’s recent physician survey revealed that the nationwide Physician Misery Index is 3.94 out of 5, a 4.36 percent increase since our inaugural survey in 2015.

All of the six components of the Physician Misery Index show we’re facing epidemic levels of physician burnout and dissatisfaction:

  • 89 percent of physicians say the “business and regulation of healthcare” has changed the practice of medicine for the worse. The intensity of agreement has increased over time; today, 57 percent strongly agree, up from 48 percent in 2015.
  • 86 percent agree that “the heightened demand for data reporting to support quality metrics and the business-side of healthcare has diminished my joy in practicing medicine.”
  • 81 percent say they “frequently feel rushed when seeing patients.”
  • 67 percent of doctors feel “it’s often difficult to manage the amount of work required of me.”
  • 60 percent say “it happens more and more often that I talk about my work in a negative way.”
  • 58 percent believe the “implementation of practice standards has diminished my autonomy and ability to choose the right treatments for my patients.”

It’s not the first time physician sentiment has surprised me

When we first surveyed physicians more than three years ago, I was stunned to discover 84 percent believed quality patient time might be a thing of the past. As I said in 2015, “For most physicians, the ability to create meaningful relationships with their patients and truly impact health outcomes is why they entered the practice of medicine in the first place, and is critical to experiencing joy in their work.”

In the years since our first physician survey and Joy of Medicine Challenge, I have been – and continue to be – gratified at the increasing awareness of the problem. The Mayo Clinic, Medscape and many others have highlighted the pervasiveness of physician burnout, and, more and more, these organizations are discussing ways to reverse and prevent physician burnout. In its 2018 National Physician Burnout & Depression Report, Medscape not only provided insights into the number and types of physicians experiencing burnout and depression, but also how doctors and their employers are addressing these issues.  

Notably, the American Medical Association has championed the issue, hiring Christine Sinsky, MD as its vice president of professional satisfaction. Dr. Sinsky’s track record of bringing national attention to the issue of physician well-being and her strong research background made her the perfect person for this role. From 2011 to 2012, Sinsky led In Search of Joy in Practice: A Report of 23 High-Functioning Primary Care Practices and in 2013, she co-authored the paper From Triple to Quadruple Aim: Care of the Patient Requires Care of the Provider. Today, Sinsky directs the development of initiatives to improve clinician well-being and reduce burnout, including the STEPS ForwardTM program.

Yet, our recent survey shows awareness is insufficient to reverse physician burnout and dissatisfaction. There is much more work for all of us in healthcare to do to restore the Joy of Medicine to today’s physicians.

Join Geneia in helping to restore the Joy of Medicine to practicing physicians

At Geneia, we believe:

  • Physicians are a highly-valued, limited resource;
  • The central tenant to design of workflows and tasks that involve physicians must be to minimize the overall effort expended by physicians;
  • To the greatest extent possible, everything that can be done by someone other than a physician, in fact, should be;
  • That other administrative and care team members are perfectly equipped, if given the right information and tools, to identify risk, coordinate care, manage open care opportunities, close care and coding gaps, motivate and engage patients, and perform recordkeeping to maximize a return on quality, cost and revenue; and
  • We must reserve physicians’ time for improving the patient relationship, diagnosis and treatment.

At Geneia, we have a long history of emphasizing the importance of the doctor-patient relationship. The primacy of the physician-patient relationship is a central tenet in our product design.

Measuring Physician Satisfaction: “That Which Gets Measured Gets Done”

At the same time, we know physicians continue to be quite challenged by the electronic health record (EHR) and health information technology. That’s why we’re calling on all health IT companies to involve physicians in the design and implementation of health technology products and to measure physician satisfaction.

As Geneia's Chief Medical Officer Aurel Iuga, MD, MBA, MPH, CMQ, emphasized,

That which gets measured gets done. That’s why Geneia is committed to measuring the satisfaction of physicians as a part of onboarding new clients for our analytics and insights platform. Even more importantly, we will survey the physicians who use our products annually to gauge changes in sentiment and work with those doctors to remedy their technology and analytics pain points.

All health IT companies are invited to join Geneia in monitoring and addressing physician satisfaction and to use the company’s nine-question physician survey.

For more information on the Joy of Medicine initiative and to download the physician satisfaction survey, see: http://marketing.geneia.com/2018/joy-of-medicine/

Physicians who wish to take the survey and compare their answers to the national results are invited to visit: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/BD32LYM

Smiling doctor listens to little girl's heart


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