Reducing Physician Burnout and the Role of AI

Physician burnout remains a very real, and very challenging, problem for the healthcare sector in 2023. There is immense pressure on physicians and healthcare practitioners as they juggle not only massively increased workloads, but increased patient volume and an ever shrinking workforce. The 2023 Medscape National Physician Burnout & Suicide Report found that burnout is still at a critical level with several specialties taking more strain than usual due to the pandemic. What does physician burnout treatment look like in 2023?

What lies ahead is a difficult road for the recovery of not just physicians, but the world, as pressures on hospitals still linger following the pandemic, continuing to influence stress, engagement and patient care. It is paramount to invest in solutions that can mitigate or minimize the pressure on the physician and significantly reduce the risks of burnouts year over year.

Findings from the 2023 Physician Burnout Survey

Released early in 2023, the Medscape survey found that the most impacted specialties in 2022 were emergency medicine, internal medicine, and pediatrics compared with emergency medicine, critical care and Ob/Gyn in 2021. This shift makes sense in light of the current climate and highlights the importance of providing these sectors with even more support over the next year. The situation as it stands today is unlikely to change, and these specialties (amongst many reporting high rates of burnout) are critical to ensuring high quality patient care.

When asked what would play the most significant role in helping to reduce burnout, physicians said that they would appreciate increased compensation (45%), a more manageable work schedule (44%), more support staff (37%), greater respect from superiors/coworkers (36%) and lighter patient loads (33%).

Leading Causes of Physician Burnout

This year’s report captures the complexities of being a physician in the modern era. Admin and bureaucratic tasks are the number one cause of burnout at 61%, with lack of respect from coworkers (38%), too many work hours (37%), insufficient compensation (34%) and lack of control and autonomy (31%) contributing to the physician burden. Too much time is spent doing tasks that are admin and compliance related, time that could be better spent caring for patients and managing workloads more efficiently. This is a critical point that has yet to be optimally addressed to support healthcare practitioners in achieving their goals. Practitioners need more time to focus on what they do best – healthcare – and less time taken away from them to manage mundane, tedious and regulatory tasks that limit their efficacy and workplace happiness.

Physician burnout is not a mental health issue, it’s a syndrome brought on by unending challenges in the healthcare sector. As already highlighted by the Medscape survey, time is one of the leading causes of physician burnout as there isn’t enough given to physicians to fully realize their roles and quality of life. This is further impacted by admin, patients, colleagues and workplace conditions. Physician burnout treatment involves the need to make a lasting impact on physician well-being through improved efficiencies, investment into supporting technologies and reducing the overall administrative burden.

The Role of AI in Improving Efficiencies

While poorly implemented solutions and endless technology implementations and regulations can have a negative impact on physician workloads and well-being, there is immense potential in the use of artificial intelligence (AI) solutions that can not only support the physician in their role, but reduce their administrative burden. There are multiple innovations in the field today – innovations that automate basic tasks, that pull admin away from the physician and into the algorithm-driven back-end, and that translate huge volumes of work into simple workflows that can prioritize time and urgency. Improved efficiencies could be a strong contributor to physician burnout treatment in 2023.

ai diagnostic imaging

Aidoc, a leading AI platform for healthcare AI, has long been providing physicians with the support that they need to manage extraordinary workloads. Radiologists, for example, have been left with unbelievably weighty imaging volumes thanks to influx in image volume and decrease in workforce. Aidoc provides seamless PACs integration and an intuitive user experience that provides the radiologist with a third pair of hands, a second pair of eyes that never sleep. With the platform in place, radiologists are assured with a tool that can help them in prioritizing acute cases, empowering them to maintain their quality while increasing efficiency and improving their work-life balance. Designed to augment the role, not replace it, Aidoc has the right tools in place to minimize disruption to the radiologist during implementation while seamlessly shifting the administrative burden away from their shoulders.

There is immense value in AI as a tool for reducing the pressure put on physicians, not only in terms of admin, but also in improving workflows and workloads. The right solutions can make a noticeable difference to quality of working life and reducing the risk of burnout. AI and deep learning platforms offer numerous benefits to the radiology profession that include streamlined workflows, time-saving support, increased capacity, and improved diagnosis reliability. This minimizes pressure on the radiologist as they know that they are supported and they can improve their levels of patient care.

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