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Provider Burnout Increasing Due to Meaningful Use Burdens

Almost 90% of physicians have experienced provider burnout, and regulations like meaningful use might be to blame.

By Sara Heath

An overwhelming majority of physicians have experienced some sort of provider burnout, in large part due to increasing provider burdens such as meaningful use.*

NB. The recently issued propose rule for MACRA implementation will end meaningful use for physicians in 2017.

According to a recent study from Studer Group, a heaping 90 percent of physicians have felt provider burnout, and nearly two thirds of them say the burnout sometimes pushes them to consider leaving medicine.

This provider burnout is naturally caused by increasing provider burdens, like over compensating for low staffing levels and keeping up with the fast pace of the hospital. Providers also cite regulatory changes like the shift to ICD-10 and meaningful use requirements as major causes for provider burnout.

This viewpoint is not entirely unique. Much of the feedback surrounding the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) EHR Incentive Programs is that is places too heavy a burden on providers. Between demands for increased documentation and patient engagement requirements that prove difficult and out of providers’ hands, many feel meaningful use is too needlessly burdensome for providers.

It’s for those reasons that several industry stakeholders have tabbed meaningful use as one of the top concerns going into 2016.

The EHR Incentive Programs was one of the top concerns on the American Medical Association’s top provider concerns for this year. The lack of physician control and heavy burdens make meaningful use a major hindrance on provider workflows and yet is still moving forward, AMA says.

“This burdensome regulatory program is scheduled to move forward next year, following the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS) release of the meaningful use Stage 3 final rule late in 2015,” wrote AMA staff writer Troy Parks. “The medical community immediately called on policymakers to put physicians back in control of their practices and put patients before bureaucracy after the rule was released and will continue these efforts this year.”

That kind of loss of control is another cause of provider burnout. The Studer Group study shows that providers who feel like they lack control, are experiencing too much change too quickly, are feeling a downward pressure in compensation, or are sensing disconnect between themselves and their patients are more likely to experience bouts of provider burnout.

In fact, ridding these feelings and putting themselves back in charge with less bureaucracy is one of the changes most providers would make to their jobs. The study reveals that providers are looking to be put back in the driver’s seat when it comes to administering care for patients, and would look to get rid of the minutia when it comes to documentation and paperwork.

Perhaps those kinds of changes are coming.

Earlier this year, CMS’s Andy Slavitt announced that the agency was working on changes to the meaningful use program that would facilitate more provider control.

“The meaningful use program as it has existed will now effectively be over, and replaced with something better,” Slavitt said. “Since late last year we’ve been working side by side with physician organizations across many communities, including with great advocacy from the AMA and have listened to the needs and concerns of many. We’ll be putting out the details of this next stage over the next few months, but I’ll give you a couple of themes that are guiding our implementation.”

Among those themes are rewarding positive patient outcomes goals, customization of EHR-related goals, and increase developer independence to help facilitate those goals.

However, Slavitt, along with National Coordinator for Health IT Karen DeSalvo, followed that announcement with a blog post downplaying those claims. The post set forth to remind providers and industry stakeholders that the programs as of right now are still in full effect, and that due to other regulatory bills, will take some time to work out new solutions.




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