Financial Impact of Physician Work-Life Balance
Financial Impact of Physician Work-Life Balance

This posting is for the CFOs. Why should CFOs care about physician work-life balance?
It’s common knowledge that physician burnout rates are increasing every year. It’s less common knowledge that satisfaction physicians with their work-life balance(WLB) is decreasing at a faster rate than burnout is increasing. In most professions satisfaction with WLB is increasing. Not so for physicians. The percent satisfied with WLB decreased from 49% to 41% between 2011 and 2014 according to a landmark study by Dr. Tait Shanafelt published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings in December 2015.

How Work Life-Balance Impacts Financial Performance

Physicians are pursuing a variety of approaches to reducing burnout and improving work-live balance, ranging from self-care tactics like

mindfulness and yoga to adding scribes and additional support staff.When these aren’t enough, physicians have only one other choice, and it’s becoming more common.
Increasingly, doctors are reducing their workloads. As the workload increases, physicians are spending more time in the evenings and on weekends working. Years ago in the quality movement we espoused “doing today’s work today”.

Pajama Time

Many physicians are doing “today’s work tonight”, spending “pajama time” with their EHR rather than their SO, completing progress notes and responding to in basket items like patient questions, lab results, and refill requests. Most common EHRs have developed ways to track when physicians are working in the HER, documenting this trend with data.
Physicians are increasingly realizing what their SOs have known all along. This is unhealthy for physicians, their families, and their communities.

The bottom line impact of preserving work-life balance

Without efficiency improvements, a physician spending two hours a night on the EHR would have to reduce patient visits by twenty percent to eliminate after hour work. The average family physician refers business worth $1.6 million in net revenue to a community hospital. (1) Physician work drives the vast majority of hospital revenue. Most hospital operating margins are 2-10%. If revenues drop by 20%, the hospital operations are not financially sustainable.
So, why should CFOs worry about physician burnout? Because it impacts everything: quality, safety, access, patient satisfaction, AND the bottom line.
In my next post, I’ll talk about how to reduce the drivers of burnout while protecting the bottom line.
What do you think need to be done? Share your comments here.

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