This is a guest post I wrote for the HealthStandards blog.
“It is my pleasure to co-host the #HITsm chat, this Friday with Dr. Paddy Barrett of The Doctor Paradox. As physicians, we look forward to this opportunity to engage with the health IT community for their weekly chat. Let’s discuss ways to deal with the frustration EHRs have brought to physicians, and the lack of time we have to spend in the caring of patients. We invite you to join us for #HITsm on “Preserving Purpose in Medicine” on September 16th at 12 noon ET on Twitter.”
– Dr. Brian Stork
Maintaining purpose in medicine
I think purpose is a balance between the personal relationship and the outcome we are trying to achieve.
The EHR, in its current form, drains energy away from the doctor-patient relationship. This upsets the balance. It puts added stress on the physician, who exists at the fulcrum of that balance. That stress, over time, leads to anger, burnout, resentment and loss of purpose.
Physicians are spending more of their time struggling with burdensome electronic health records than they are providing direct patient care. And, in the process, doctor job dissatisfaction and professional burnout is growing. – Health Data Management
For every hour a physician spends with a patient, he spends two hours dealing with documentation, according to a study in the Annals of Internal Medicine. Christine Sinsky MD of the American Medical Association says, “Despite spending half of the work day on EHR/clerical work, physicians are still taking home one to two hours of data entry work at night and taking time away from their families and friends to complete these clerical tasks. This is not sustainable.”
The reality is many physicians have left or are considering leaving medicine. Others are trying hard to reconnect to the reasons they became physicians in the first place.
A Mindful Practice
Finding purpose in medicine is about creating meaningful relationships that result in healing. Sometimes, in the process of healing, the healer becomes healed as well.
We can start reconnecting to our purpose by reconnecting with ourselves. Dr. Robin Youngson, an anesthesiologist and international advocate for compassion in healthcare, studied the reasons some physicians were able to flourish where other physicians were burned out.
He found mindfulness, intentionality and a shift in attitude are the most powerful hallmarks of those who are joyful in their work.
I have practiced mindfulness for a while, but recently, a patient of mine, who has survived cancer, started teaching me Tai Chi. Personally, I’ve found the slow, purposeful movements of Tai Chi to be very calming and helpful.
There is no question that this imbalance is not only a risk to physicians but to the direct care of our patients.
Read more at HealthStandards.com