Welcomed With a Parade

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It is undeniable that physicians practicing in small rural communities are a renowned and respected member of the community.  Typically, when a doctor is hired to fill an opening at the local health center, it is a big deal, and word travels around town at the speed of light.  What doesn’t happen very often is that the physician is introduced to the community via parade!  That was recently the case in a small, rural western Oklahoma community of 1,500 people.

Dane Altman, Senior Vice President, Business Development for Jackson Physician Search was born in a small rural community in Oklahoma.  When the Medical Director/Physician working at the local 24-bed critical access hospital was planning to retire, Jackson Physician Search received the contract to find his replacement. Dan Rixon, a JPS recruitment professional, began the search by visiting the community and meeting with facility leadership to develop a picture of the town and also the position he was tasked with recruiting.  In setting expectations with the client, he made it clear that it might take some time to find the right physician who would be willing to relocate to such a small community.  To keep things light, he informed the team that if he were to find the right physician before April 20th, he would participate in the town’s 50th Annual Cow Chip Throwing Tournament to be held at the county fair.

As is often the case, the search to find an experienced general practice physician who was willing to relocate to a small community was challenging.  After four months, with little luck, everything changed.  Dan was holding an online career fair when he was contacted by a physician, Dr. M., currently practicing in Florida.  Dr. M. was unhappy in his current position and was looking for a new opportunity.  As luck would have it, Dr. M. had family in the Dallas area, only a six-hour drive from the rural opportunity.

Dan coordinated a meeting between the leadership team at the hospital and Dr. M., and it was clear early on that this would be a very good fit. Dr. M. was looking for a position where he would be valued and treated with respect and also where he could be laser-focused on his career. As the new Medical Director, he would have that opportunity.  Dr. M. was very excited about the opportunity to practice at the small hospital, manage the team of Nurse Practitioners, and also rotate through two other community health centers that were in neighboring areas.  Within a month, everything came together, and Dr. M. accepted his offer.

This brings us to the World Championship Cow Chip Throwing competition. Both Dan and Dane attended the fair, and as promised participated in the tournament along with Dr. M.!  Later, the local community gave their new physician the warmest of welcomes as he was introduced while riding in the festival parade.

Not every new small town physician will ride down Main Street in the back of a convertible waving to the crowd, but that feeling of being a valued and a respected member of the community is not uncommon.  Small communities across the country have openings for physicians, and most if not all will make the community experience a highlight of the recruiting process.  Community leaders are never shy about being invested in partnering with the town’s medical providers, and they typically play a role at some point during recruitment.  This type of access to community influencers should not be discounted when on a site visit.  There is much to learn from them about how their small, tight-knit community can offer a tangible change of pace from larger urban settings.  Cost of living, quality of life, culture, and fit are all part of the consideration when looking at opportunities in rural America. Not every community can boast about their world champion cow chip tossers, but many of these opportunities offer more work/life balance, a slower pace, less noise and bustle, and a true appreciation for the work.

If you are looking for a new opportunity, whether you are willing to consider rural America like Dr. M., or you want a position in a larger urban setting, Jackson Physician Search has openings for you to consider.  Contact one of our physician recruitment professionals and get started today.

 

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Leverage Physician Compensation Survey Data to Improve Your Recruitment Results

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Every year there are a variety of physician compensation surveys published, each with varying degrees of detail and context. The charts and tables they contain deliver a wealth of information. To understand how each report defines compensation and the larger trends driving it, you need to read between the lines.

Here is our overview of the recently published surveys to get you started.

Modern Healthcare Physician Compensation Survey

This leading media source publishes a round-up of compensation data for 23 specialties as reported by 12 organizations, from recruitment and consulting firms to industry associations. The three-page survey reports average starting salaries, rather than average incomes. Salary and bonuses are included, but insurance, stock options, and benefits are not. Data points include:

  • Average cash compensation for that specialty
  • Percentage change between the current and previous year

Key Takeaways:

  • Physician pay increases appear to be slowing, possibly due to the rise in hospital employment, where salary (vs. bonuses) make up most of compensation for physicians.
  • Although primary care specialties are among the lowest paid, they scored the highest average starting pay increases.
  • Emergency, internal, family, and hospital medicine physicians saw average year-to-year pay increases of more than 3%.

MGMA DataDive Provider Compensation Data

The Medical Group Management Association gathers W-2 data directly from practice managers at over 5,800 organizations nationwide, providing a dataset of approximately 136,000 providers. Their data offers a complete picture of over 140 physician specialties based upon practice size, region, metropolitan statistical area and more. Benchmarks include:

  • Compensation – Including total pay, bonus/incentives, retirement and more
  • Productivity – Work RVUs, total RVUs, professional collections and charges
  • Benefit Metrics – Hours worked per week/year and weeks of vacation

Key Takeaways:

  • Primary care physician compensation increased by more than 10% over the past five years.
  • Depending on specialty, the difference in compensation between states can be in the range of $100,000 to $270,000.
  • Family medicine physicians saw a 12% rise in total compensation over the past five years, while their median number of work relative value units (wRVUs) remained flat. This reflects higher signing bonuses, continuing medical education stipends, relocation reimbursement and other cash incentives to attract and retain physicians.

AMGA Medical Group Compensation and Productivity Survey

The American Medical Group Association survey represents more than 105,000 clinical providers. Participants are primarily large multispecialty medical groups and integrated health systems. The average number of providers per participant group was approximately 380. Data includes:

  • Compensation
  • Net collections
  • Work RVUs
  • Compensation-to-productivity ratios

Key Takeaways:

  • Although compensation per relative value unit (work RVU) was higher than average, 2017 was the first-year physician compensation increased by less than 2% in over a decade.
  • Compensation increased only +0.89%.
  • The national median showed a decline in physician productivity by a weighted average of -1.63%, possibly related to growing administrative burdens on providers.

Doximity Physician Compensation Report

Doximity is known as the largest medical social network in the country – with over 70% of US doctors as verified members. Their report draws on the responses of more than 65,000 licensed U.S. doctors in 40 medical specialties. Physicians who are verified Doximity users can access an interactive salary map to drill down on compensation data combined with housing cost insights.

Their public report focuses on year-over-year trends in:

  • Physician compensation across Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs)
  • The gap in pay between male and female physicians
  • Absolute physician compensation across specialty, state, region, and gender

Key Takeaways:

  • There was a 4% increase in physician compensation nationally.
  • Less populated MSAs tend to have higher average compensation compared to larger cities.
  • The presence of large medical schools in an area ensures a stronger pipeline of doctors competing for a relatively fixed number of positions, which causes a dampening effect on compensation.

Medscape Physicians Compensation Report

Medscape is one of the most popular sources for physicians who use the report to access high-level salary trends and gauge how their peers feel about the challenges and rewards of practicing medicine. More than 20,000 physicians in 29 specialties responded to the online survey, and the results were weighted to the American Medical Association’s physician distribution by specialty. Information reported:

  • Annual Compensation by Specialty
  • Year-to-year Trends
  • Regional Averages

Key Takeaways:

  • Employed physicians comprised 69% of the respondent group versus 26% who are self-employed, with 5% not reporting.
  • Demand for specialists to help address behavioral health issues and the opioid crisis surged, highlighted by a year-to-year increase in psychiatry and physical medicine/rehabilitation.
  • Physicians cited altruistic reasons as the top three most rewarding parts of their job, with “making good money at a job I like” ranking fourth.

To learn more about the various compensation surveys and tools available, contact the industry experts at Jackson Physician Search today.

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Jackson Physician Search Helps Healthcare Organizations Manage the Growing Demand for Mental Health Professionals

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Atlanta, Ga. (May 21, 2019) – May 2019 marks the 70th year of Mental Health Month, observed at a time when the field of mental health has been especially hard hit by the country’s physician shortage. According to the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), 55.3 million Americans live in a federally designated primary care shortage area, while a remarkable 89.3 million live in an area with a shortage of mental health professionals. This shortage of psychiatrists and licensed professional counselors stems from a variety of factors, according to Jackson Physician Search, a firm specializing in the permanent recruitment of physicians and advanced practice providers to hospitals and other healthcare providers.

“The shortage of mental health practitioners starts with very low numbers graduating in the field and is compounded by lower pay and insurance reimbursement in this specialty,” said Tony Stajduhar, President, Jackson Physician Search. “Our experience shows the ratio of open jobs to open candidates is skewed compared with fields like cardiology and surgery. Mental health needs are growing in both rural and suburban settings, and medical facilities are seeking both physicians and physician ‘extenders’ like nurse practitioners and physician assistants who can practice as both generalist and mental-health specialist.”

According to a JAMA infographic, the number of people being treated for mental disorders doubled in the overall population from 1996 to 2015. So, what’s fueling the increase in mental health patients? For Kurt Micelli, M.D., Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer for Elwyn, an internationally recognized nonprofit human services organization, the growing number of mental health patients probably stems from a range of issues.

“The increase is likely due to a combination of service awareness, insurance coverage, improved treatment options, decreased stigma of treatment, and the increased stress and complexity of modern life,” said Dr. Micelli. “The demand for mental health services is so great that it’s hard keeping up with the supply of clinicians needed to provide those services.”

To keep pace with the demand for skilled mental health professionals and provide premier services, Elwyn turned to Jackson Physician Search for recruitment assistance.

“Jackson Physician Search has helped improve awareness of our nonprofit and allowed us to better compete in the labor market for talented psychiatrists and psychiatric nurse practitioners,” said Dr. Micelli. “JPS has really enhanced and broadened our recruitment abilitiesOur commitment, in general, to investing in employees is all with the intent of improving patient care.”

 

Jackson Physician Search

Jackson Physician Search is an established industry leader in physician recruitment and pioneered the recruitment methodologies standard in the industry today. The firm specializes in the permanent recruitment of physicians and advanced practice providers for hospitals, health systems, academic medical centers and medical groups across the United States. Headquartered in Alpharetta, Ga., the company is recognized for its track record of results built on client trust and transparency of processes and fees. For more information, visit www.jacksonphysiciansearch.com.

How a Physician Assistant Career Compares to a Job as a Doctor

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College students who are interested in health care and who excel in science often see one path open to them: medical school. However, becoming a licensed and board-certified physician typically requires four years at either an M.D. or a D.O. program, plus three to five years in a residency focused on a medical specialty like psychiatry or surgery.

Aspiring doctors who want to sub-specialize in a very specific area of medicine, such as addiction psychiatry or pediatric surgery, may elect to pursue a fellowship in that field, which means that their medical training will last about a decade.

 

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Quick Look: Physician Retention Tips

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Each year, the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) updates their report outlining projected Physician Supply and Demand for the United States.  The most recent report is projecting physician deficits between 42,600 and 121,300 by the year 2030.  As in years past, primary care physicians represent the largest shortfall with estimates as high as 49,300.  Surgical specialists are not far behind with a projected shortage of up to 30,500.

If nothing else, these projected physician shortages highlight the importance for healthcare administrators to ensure that their organizations are utilizing best practices in their physician recruitment and retention policies.  In today’s highly competitive physician recruitment environment, the best way to ensure that your organization avoids lengthy physician vacancies is to minimize turnover.

Here is an overview of eight retention strategies that every healthcare organization should be practicing now.

  1. Focus on Making Good Hires – One of the best ways to give your organization a better chance at retaining the physicians you have on staff is to make sure you are hiring for fit and not hiring to fill. Ensuring that your recruitment process targets individuals that are already aligned with your organizational values gives you the best opportunity to keep them engaged and not seeking greener pastures.
  2. Develop a Culture that Feeds Retention – By now, you should be well aware of the role that organizational culture plays in physician retention. Poor work environments and dysfunctional communication is the surest way to alienate the physicians you have on staff and will lead to a revolving door of vacancies.
  3. Help Your Physicians Stay Engaged – In any work environment, when staff is engaged they exhibit more loyalty to the organization, they are better at working through issues, and consistently put forth greater effort than employees who are not engaged. According to Gallup, fully engaged physicians generate more outpatient referrals and a whopping 51% more inpatient referrals than non-engaged physicians.
  4. Provide Personal Growth Opportunities – According to Medscape’s 2018 National Physician Burnout & Depression Report, 42% of physicians reporting feeling burned out while 15% admitted feeling varying levels of depression. Keep your physicians engaged by encouraging them to pursue the things they are passionate about.
  5. Allow for Career Advancement Opportunities – The Physicians on your staff have spent many years of schooling to reach their current position, and it is a mistake to think that they are now on cruise control. Collaborating on a plan that affords them the flexibility to pursue their career goals will benefit your organization and ultimately make them better doctors.
  6. Promote Work/Life Balance – Physician burnout is dominating the headlines on medical news outlets, and it is reasonable to assume your physicians are experiencing those same issues. It is critical for administrators to engage their physician staff to develop solutions. The Mayo Clinic developed a model to reduce burnout called the “Listen-Act-Develop” approach.
  7. Compensation – According to Kresser Institute, forty percent of medical school graduates finish with more than $200,000 in student loan debt. Organizations cannot ignore this intrinsic pressure on their physician staff and should explore creative ways to ensure that financial pressures are not contributing to physician burnout.
  8. Encourage Time Off/Family Time – When physicians are asked directly about what would help them the most in dealing with workplace pressures, most will respond that they need more time off and more manageable call schedules. A healthy family life can be a physician’s best defense against burnout and depression, and a supportive administration can help foster physician well-being.

As the physician shortage continues to impact healthcare organizations across the U.S., retaining the physicians you have on staff is going to be increasingly more critical to keeping up with the projected demand.  The question for healthcare executives is whether or not to spend the time, effort, and money on developing a successful retention program or on a continuous cycle of recruitment and hiring to fill avoidable physician vacancies.

Working With a Recruiter to Make a Change

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Based in Boise, Dr. M. had been traveling all over Idaho and other western states as the Medical Director for a correctional facility conglomerate.  The hours and the travel were taking a toll, and on top of that, Dr. M. and his wife had a newborn at home.  He saw the posting for a rural medical center position and knew he had to pursue the opportunity.

As is often the case with many small rural communities, the magic of living there is completely unknown unless you have visited or passed through at some point.  This was true for a small town of 990 people in rural Idaho, located near the “Craters of the Moon” National Monument and about 3 hours outside of Boise. The town, most noted for being the first in America to be lit by atomic energy is also famous because esteemed writer Ernest Hemingway occasionally brought his friends here to go hunting and fly fishing.

The people in this friendly town have their medical needs served by a single community medical center which also provides care to several surrounding towns. When their current Chief of Medical Staff decided to leave, it became a bit of concern for the entire community. After all, he was the only full-time Family Practice physician at the facility with other family practice doctors out of Boise rotating through part-time.

Jackson Physician Search recruiter Becky Casias knew that she had to find the right physician who could take over as Chief of Medical Staff and manage the Nurse Practitioners and the few specialty physicians that were practicing in the medical center.  In the job posting that she put out, Becky highlighted all of the benefits of living in the charming community.

As fate would have it, Dr. M. knew all about this quaint town and had visited there with a longtime friend who lived within a short drive in a nearby town. They had taken trips to hunt and fish in Mackay, a community of 700 that was also served by the medical center.  Dr. M., a military veteran and pilot, came with a wide range of experiences including Flight surgeon. Becky and Dr. M. agreed that they should move forward with the process.

Once that decision was made, things happened rather quickly. Dr. M’s contract with the prison system was up for renewal, so he didn’t have any entanglements to delay his pursuing the new opportunity.  Dr. M. met with the CEO of the medical center, the staff, and several community leaders.  From the beginning, it was very apparent that Dr. M. was the perfect fit for both the hospital and the community.

Jackson Physician Search has dozens of similar opportunities in both large and small communities across the United States.  Let our team of recruitment professionals guide you to the perfect fit for your career and for your family.  Reach out today to secure your tomorrow.

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Physicians and Mental Health Access in the United States

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According to the Journal of American Medical Association, nearly 1 in 5 people in the U.S. are afflicted with some form of mental health condition.  If this trend isn’t concerning enough, the Health Resources and Services Administration reported in 2016 that the supply of select behavioral health professionals is 250,000 short of what the nation’s demand will be by the year 2025.  Not surprisingly, as the situation worsens over time, primary care physicians will have to shoulder the burden.

Long waiting lists for mental health services are nothing new in many communities across the U.S., and the unfortunate aspect is that many of these patients are giving up on treatment rather than waiting.

“I often have a patient who clearly needs to see a psychiatrist, but is unable to get an appointment for another six months!” -Dr. G., New Jersey

In other instances where mental health access is available, insurance plans with notoriously low coverage options are making it difficult for patients to get the coverage they need.

One positive development, although it is also contributing to the demand for mental health services exceeding supply, is that awareness efforts nationwide are lessening the social stigmas attached to mental health issues.  Further, the clear relationship between mental health and physical health are changing both attitudes and approaches to healthcare delivery in clinics and practices nationwide.

One model in practice, referred to as SBIRT (Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment), originated through a 2009 North Carolina Medical Journal paper.1 Research from that paper identified that approximately 70% of all primary care visits could be attributed to behavioral or mental health issues.  If nothing else, these staggering numbers clearly demonstrate the need for additional mental health services training in the primary care setting, but also the necessary linkage to mental health providers and services.

A 2016 Ohio State University College of Medicine study 2 concluded that while mental health screenings are important in primary care settings, additional training and education for providers on mental health issues and medications is critical.  Additionally, providers need to be more cognizant of the community mental and behavioral health services that are available and to ensure they are maintaining those relationships to key services for their patients.

“Innovative ways of creating access to mental health services include telepsychiatry, where the psychiatric resource is brought to the patient, rather than the other way around.” -Dr. H., Wisconsin

In many rural communities, the availability of mental health services is often a multiple hour drive away.  In these circumstances, providers are relying on technology to create accessibility to services. The utilization of telemedicine technology provides a platform for mental health care providers to evaluate, treat, and manage medications for their patient at a distance. Integrating that care in consult with the primary care physician or family practitioner allows them to work together and achieve better results.

As with every challenge that ultimately crops up within the healthcare industry, the solutions require multi-faceted approaches that are supported from the federal level on down through the state and local level. In many cases, the best solutions will originate at the local level and work up as opposed to down from the federal government.  At the federal level, legislators need to create more incentives for healthcare professionals to follow a mental health services tract, insurance companies must reinforce their subscriber’s ability to seek treatment by providing the coverage necessary and also to reimburse at appropriate levels. Locally, community leaders, physicians, and educators need to foster the linkage between physical care providers and mental health providers ensuring that those individuals that need treatment are referred consistently to the appropriate entity where they can receive the help they need.

 

1 Collins, Chris, North Carolina Medical Journal, “Integrating Behavioral and Mental Health Services into the Primary Care Setting”, 2009.
2 Murray, Kelsey, Ohio State University College of Medicine, “A Survey of Mental Health Needs in a Primary Care Setting”, 2016

 

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Mental Health Access: By the Numbers

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The well-discussed physician shortage is affecting healthcare across the country and across specialties.  But, when it comes to mental health professionals, the numbers look even worse.  For context, the Health Resources and Services Administration states that 55.3 million Americans live in a federally designated primary care shortage area, while an astonishing 89.3 million live in a similarly designated mental health professional shortage area.  Those numbers, worrisome enough on their own, are even more concerning when you consider rural areas. Even though urban clinics often have long waiting lists for mental health providers, rural clinics often have no mental health provider at all.

According to Mental Health America, although there has been a slight decrease in the number of adults who have a mental health condition from 2015 to today, there are still 44 million adults suffering from a mental health condition.  Conversely, the number of youth experiencing a mental health condition has increased in the past four years.  Data shows that 3.1 million youth (ages 12 – 17) have suffered from at least one major depressive event in the past year, and another 1.1 million are suffering from a substance use disorder. Nationally, only 25% of youth with severe depression receive some form of consistent treatment. Barriers to youth treatment include late recognition in primary care settings and limited coverage of mental health services.

Improving Access to Mental Health Care Services

More than half of those who experience some form of mental illness in a year do not, or in many cases cannot get treatment.  Clearly, whether it is a lack of providers, insurance, or general confusion about how to get the necessary treatment, far too many individuals are not getting the help they need. Here are a few initiatives that may help improve access to mental health care services.

  1. Primary Care Integration – Even in underserved communities, most individuals have access to a primary care physician. The American Psychiatric Association (APA) is supportive of building up capacity for mental health care through additional screening in the primary care setting and flagging patients who need further evaluation by a mental health provider. Many primary care offices are filling the gap with Physician Assistants with mental health specialization. Known as ‘Collaborative Care,’ having access to these front-line providers means additional screening, the implementation of initial treatment plans, and the ability to perform consultation and referral services when necessary.
  2. Technology – Never to be mistaken for replacing a practitioner, new technologies can be used to expand the reach of existing mental health providers. Video conferencing is being used to overcome the lack of access in underserved communities. Another effective use of technology is the utilization of software-based cognitive behavioral therapy where trial results are demonstrating it as a promising option to in-person therapy.
  3. Legislative Initiatives – The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) are encouraging states to create innovative payment methodologies for telemedicine. Evidence exists that shows telemedicine not being reimbursed or reimbursed at a lower level which discourages mental health providers from expanding their services through telemedicine technology. Other legislative opportunities include revising licensure requirements allowing mental health providers to provide services, including telemedicine services, across state lines. Eighteen states have adopted the Federation of State Medical Boards’ compact which expedites licensure for out of state physicians, including psychiatrists. Similar multistate compacts for other mental health professionals are in the early stages of development.

The results of 37 randomized studies published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), confirmed that collaborative care is effective in improving short-term outcomes and includes evidence of longer-term benefits.  The collaborative care interventions that were included in the JAMA study included a wide range of approaches from face-to-face evaluations to telephone interviews to video conferencing.

Healthcare administrators faced with making critical decisions in providing a broad spectrum of care in the most cost-effective manner will continue considering whether a collaborative care model is appropriate for their system. Data highlighted in an article published by the National Institutes of Health showed that 69% of patients with depression only present physical ailments during their primary care visit. Another study concluded that the higher the number of physical symptoms reported the greater the likelihood of the patient having an underlying mood disorder.

Above all else, mental health care systems are going to continue changing in the face of expanding mental health needs. The opioid crisis is stretching addiction treatment providers to the limit while growing depression and anxiety disorders in our nation’s youth are forcing care systems to develop innovative ways to improve access and reduce the stigmas of mental health care. Currently, there is no consensus on the most effective configuration for a collaborative care approach to meet the mental health needs of a community. In many cases, where it is fiscally viable, additional psychiatric staff in tandem with primary care providers may be the appropriate answer, while in other situations, integrating technologies may be an effective way to expand mental health access.

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Reducing Paperwork to Help Combat Physician Burnout

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In January, Medscape released the results of their 2019 National Physician Burnout, Depression & Suicide Report.  This comprehensive report collected information from 15,000 physicians in 29 different specialties.  While 44% of physician respondents reported feeling burned out, and another 15% reported being colloquially or clinically depressed, the driver behind these responses may surprise you. Almost 60% of respondents reported that they are burdened by too many bureaucratic tasks like charting and paperwork.  The next closest factor as identified in the survey was spending too many hours at work which came in at 34%.

Clearly, if physicians are telling us that working too many hours is contributing to their feelings of burnout, imagine how frustrating it would be to know that paperwork and bureaucracy is one of the leading reasons for your long work days. A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine determined that for every hour a doctor is treating patients, they are spending two hours on paperwork! Burdensome clerical activity is even creeping into the time physicians are examining their patients as the study found that almost 37% of the face-to-face patient time is spent on electronic health records (EHR) and other clerical work.

Ways to reduce administrative burdens

If the results of these studies sound all too familiar, here are several ways you can alleviate some of that workload and free up more time to spend on patient care.

Get Involved – Believe it or not, health care industry leaders and federal agencies all realize that change is needed to allow physicians to spend more time focused on their patient and less on recordkeeping. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is initiating changes to reduce the administrative burden on Physicians as part of its comprehensive “Patients over Paperwork” initiative. Physicians that have identified confusing and/or time consuming documentation are encouraged to report them to ReducingProviderBurden@cms.hhs.gov.

Share the Burden – Physicians at UCLA Health and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center are reducing the amount of time they spend on documentation through new virtual note-taking technology, Our Notes. Developed by OpenNotes, the concept promotes having the patients participate in the note-taking process in collaboration with the physician.  Research has shown that involving the patient in documenting the visit leads to increased patient engagement and improved communication between the physician and the patient.

Smart Glasses – Another exciting tech development that healthcare organizations are piloting involves Google’s Smart Glasses.  Recently relaunched, the Smart Glasses are set up to link with proprietary software, like Augmedix, a remote scribe service that records all of the clinical notes for the physician.  Clinicians who are using this technology report that the device is shaving as much as 30% from their administrative time which can be used for additional patients or improving their quality of life.

Whether through regulatory changes, technology, or even hiring additional support staff, like Medical Assistants, healthcare industry leaders realize that changes need to be made to support physicians.  More doctors are feeling the effects of burnout and reducing the amount of time they are spending on documentation and bureaucracy is one way to help them manage their work-related pressures.

If you are ready to explore new career opportunities or find an organization that is a better fit for you personally and professionally, contact a Jackson Physician Search recruitment professional today.  Our team has decades of industry experience and a nationwide reach to find you the best fit for the next step in your career.

 

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Why Relationships and Workplace Culture Matter to Physicians

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Much has been written about the rising prevalence of burnout among today’s physicians, with estimates approaching up to 70% feeling the effects.  Unfortunately, when approaches on how to improve physician wellness and reduce burnout are addressed, they are usually centered upon self-care, practicing mindfulness, self-awareness and other strategies that place much of the burden on the physician themselves.  Organizations and administrators who are placing the burnout burden right back on the shoulders of their own physicians are losing sight of a much larger issue.

Physician wellness is directly impacted by workplace culture.  That is not to discount other underlying factors, including work hours, patient loads, and administrative burdens, lack of autonomy, excessive bureaucracy, and other frustrations.  What hospital administrators and executives might be overlooking is the fact that one of the top reasons physicians leave a job is a lack of cultural fit and not compensation.  Gallup reported a direct link between staff understanding an organization’s purpose and culture and the achievement of quality healthcare.

Physicians, like most people who have spent their life building a career, want a sense of fulfillment and personal accomplishment.  And, to achieve that holistically, it needs to encompass more than the patient-facing aspect of their professional life.  When they, like any employee, feels engaged in their work for an organization that espouses values similar to their own, they are happier and less likely to suffer from negative stressors.  A recent Mayo Clinic White Paper on Executive Leadership and Physician Well-being outlined nine strategies to promote physician engagement and reduce burnout.  Among the findings included organizational leaders having to acknowledge that there is a problem.  A Jackson Physician Search survey showed that administrators believe their physicians are much more in alignment with the organization than the physicians are in reality.  One consideration in finding out if there is a gap between belief and reality is through improved communication with staff at all levels.  Others rely on annual surveys to get the feedback they need to take appropriate actions.

Another strategy identified by the Mayo Clinic paper recommends cultivating community in the workplace. This goes further than celebrating achievements and having pot luck luncheons.  More importantly, it is fostering the unique relationships that physicians have with their colleagues. In the past, a physician’s lounge was a place where doctors would go to discuss shared experiences, develop interpersonal connections, and seek and provide critical peer support.  Today’s focus on productivity requirements, administrative burdens, and other clerical demands have contributed to the erosion of these collegial relationships and can lead to feelings of frustration and isolation for the physicians.

Strengthening values and culture is a strategy that most health care organizations, until recently, have not given the weight of importance that it deserves.  In most healthcare-related organizations, the mission statement speaks to serving patients and providing compassionate, quality care.  What’s often missing is that to achieve that mission, an organization’s culture, values, and principles must be in alignment, thereby creating the foundation for achievement.

Other strategies to promote physician engagement, as discussed in the Mayo Clinic report, include the promotion of flexibility and work-life integration, providing the resources for self-care, and facilitating organizational studies to research new approaches supporting their physician team.

To see all nine strategies for physician well-being from the Mayo Clinic report, click here.

To learn more about how culture, values, and fit matter when filling your physician or advanced practice vacancies, contact the industry experts at Jackson Physician Search today.

 

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