Physician Burnout – Study Finds Work-Load Root Cause

Battling Physician Burnout is a top priority. One pillar of The Quadruple Aim is to Improve the clinician experience. 


Even before the COVID crisis, Physician Burnout has been a growing concern. And after 18 months of increased workload and stress, the problem is getting worse, not better.


The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety recently released a study on the relationship between cognitive task load and providers’ ability to perform their job well.



The short version: a 10% decrease in Physician Task Load (PTL) lowers the odds of experiencing burnout by 33%.


The specialties with the highest PTL score were emergency medicine, urology, anesthesiology, general surgery subspecialties, radiology, and internal medicine subspecialties.


It had been theorized that personal vulnerability could be at the root of the physician burnout crisis, but the data do not support this. The JCJQPS used cognitive theory and workload analysis to conduct cutting-edge research, and their findings are both compelling and academically rigorous.


“We evaluated the cognitive load of a clinical workday in a national sample of U.S. physicians and its relationship with burnout and professional satisfaction,”

Elizabeth Harry, MD, SFHM, coauthor and Hospitalist at University of Colorado at Denver & Aurora


While the study did point to workload as the smoking gun quadruple-aimed at the heart of physician burnout, it did not shed much light on how to reduce that workload, and ease the bourdon of burnout. Several of the coauthors have more to say on that topic.


“Deeper evaluations could follow to identify specific potential solutions, particularly system-level approaches to alleviate PTL… In the short term, such analyses and solutions would have costs, but helping physicians work more optimally and with less chronic strain from excessive task load would save far more than these costs overall.

– Dr. Colin P. West, Coauthor, Professor and Researcher at the Mayo Clinic.


At DoctusTech, we are eager improve all four pillars of the Quadruple Aim.


Like you, we believe that value-based care has the potential to be a massive lever to improve clinical outcomes, population health, cost and clinician experience. (Yes, VBC touches all points of the Quadruple Aim!)


We understand that embracing Value-Based Care can be a lot to take on, and at first, could potentially add to the Physician Task Load. This should not be the case – HCC coding can be learned in far superior ways than the tired conference room lecture  (or zoom call). What if learning HCC coding was fun, easy, and actually gave clinicians an opportunity to engage with learning in a manner that added energy to their day, rather than depleting it?


On the Clinician Experience front, both our learning app and our integrated platform help ease the workload and improve the quality of life for clinicians. Ask us how?



Read the study here: Physician Task Load and the Risk of Burnout Among US Physicians in a National Survey



Need to learn HCC coding, and don’t want to sit through another lecture? Click below to demo the DoctusTech app.

Need better RAF scores and recapture rates in your practice? Demo the DoctusTech integrated tools, and learn how to make your value-based care contracts more profitable. Schedule a demo today.

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