Patient satisfaction suffers.
When patients feel we don’t spend enough time with them or listen to all their concerns, they are not happy. They come to use and are worried about a problem, stressed out about life events or just wanting to make the best decisions to stay healthy. We can do much to ease that — if we have time.
When we rush patients in and out to try to increase numbers, we are not able to comfort our patients. Again, this may lead to follow-up calls. Or worse, the patient writes negative reviews about us online or looks for another doctor who can give them 5 extra minutes, both of which can cause our profits to decrease. While we can’t make every patient happy, we should do our best to listen and try to help them find answers.
Physician burnout is increasing.
Everyone is talking about the high degree of burnout among physicians. Most of us are already operating at full steam. Trying to pile more on us is only going to make this problem worse. When we see more patients, we often are left with piles of paperwork to complete after-hours due to the endless load of increasing documentation requirements.
Doctors are human. We need rest, too. We have families, and they need us too. Unless we are allowed to take care or ourselves and our loved ones, our health will suffer. An ailing doctor is not an effective one.
While many in the C-suite think seeing more patients can boost productivity and profits, they fail to see the reality those on the frontlines face every day. Pushing more patients through a dysfunctional healthcare system is not helping anyone, patients or healthcare providers alike. Executives at organizations may see an initial boon to the bottom lines, but over time they are going to burn their resources (i.e., doctors) to the ground. Then they will be left with a crowd of patients in the waiting room and no one left to take care of them.
If we want to improve physician efficiency and productivity, we need to fix our broken healthcare system first.
Linda Girgis, MD, is a family physician in private practice in South River, N.J. She is also the author of six books, the editor-In-chief of Physician’s Weekly and a widely-published author. You can find more of her work at www.drlinda-md.com or follow her on twitter @DrLindaMD.