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How the Government Can Reduce Physician Burnout


One expert said the government has a huge role.

Fixing physician burnout is more than just the decent thing to do. The stark reality: the problem in healthcare is at a crisis level and is costing the industry $4.6 billion a year.

Arthur Harvey, M.S., chief information officer at Boston Medical Center Health System, told Inside Digital Health™ at Expo.Health in Boston that rather than calling it “physician burnout,” him and his colleagues prefer to use the term “provider vitality” because they don’t want it to appear like the provider is doing something wrong.

“A lot of this has been imposed upon them,” Harvey said.

One factor that does affect provider vitality is the government, he said.

“Well, when we look at vitality issues, the government and various regulatory agencies at a variety of levels — state, federal — they certainly have a role,” Harvey said.

If all levels of the government aren’t supporting physicians, there is fear that they are going to leave and there won’t be any more healthcare.

“Part of the challenge is that most of the things that are causing some of the distress within the vitality space are driven by government,” said Harvey.

One of the main things adding to the stress is compliance issues — certain requirements for billing and the need to fill out certain forms that take a long time but have no clinical relevance, he said.

Government agencies should look at regulation and compliance in a smarter, more effective and thoughtful way, Harvey suggested.

The healthcare space has seen some attempts by government agencies to address the physician burnout/provider vitality issue, specifically the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

The agency rolled out its Patients over Paperwork initiative to reduce administrative burden. And just last month, CMS announced a new pilot program called Data at the Point of Care, which the agency claims would be accessible in the physician’s workflow to give them more time to deliver quality care to patients.

“I do think the devil’s in the details with these things,” Harvey said. “How does the stuff actually get implemented? At least they’re taking into account the impact on the clinicians of these things we want to do and that’s really all you can ask for to get started.”

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