Healthcare Provider Burnout: It’s More Common Than You Think, And It’s Costing Us Billions

The World Health Organization (WHO) now recognizes burnout as an “occupational phenomenon and syndrome tied to chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed, characterized by feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion, increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job, and reduced professional efficacy.” After years of working in busy outpatient orthopedics, I think the majority of us Physical Therapists can relate to this in at least some ways, with some of us feeling full-blown burnout within just a few years of graduation.

A 2015 study (found here ) showed that 54% of providers reported experiencing at least one symptom of burnout. A trend that they showed was worsening from 2011 to 2014, and which has undoubtedly continued trending for the worse. Furthermore, a 2019 study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine (found here) estimated that these staggeringly high levels of provider burnout were costing the US healthcare system roughly $4.6 billion per year. Some of the most common causes of provider burnout were as follows: working in a chaotic work atmosphere, poor workload control, irregular schedules, and inefficient electronic health record systems with increased documentation requirements. These factors, among others, cause providers to feel that they are socially isolated and lack autonomy in their practice. I think most, if not all, of us can relate to some of the burnout factors mentioned here.

It’s time to change the system.

More and more providers are seeking work in cash-based models, on an independent contractor rather than employee basis, where they are able to regain control over some of the key aspects of the day-to-day performance of their work. They are shedding the chaotic atmosphere and lack of workload control in favor of a lifestyle that allows them to work when and how much they want. They are dropping the frustration of inefficiencies and excessive requirements in documentation and health records, and picking up the time they need to focus on their own self-care and wellness. The first step in helping our patients is ensuring we ourselves as practitioners are healthy, well taken care of, and unburdened enough to truly help our patients heal and improve. Our goal in starting Bridge2PT was just this, to put the control over schedules, payments, and patient load back into the hands of the PTs providing the care. We know from the research, patient care is suffering in response to provider burnout. We are confident that by eliminating some of the most glaring causes of provider burnout, we will improve outcomes not only for our PTs, but for our patients as well.

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