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Physician Job Satisfaction Driven by Quality of Patient Care

Docs have concerns about electronic health records (October 9)

Being able to provide high-quality health care is a primary driver of job satisfaction among physicians, and obstacles to quality patient care are a source of stress for doctors, according to a new Rand Corporation study.

While physicians note some advantages of electronic health records (EHRs), they complain that the systems in use today are cumbersome to operate and are an important contributor to their dissatisfaction, the study found.

The findings are from a project, sponsored by the American Medical Association (AMA), designed to identify the factors that influence physicians' professional satisfaction. The issue is of increasing importance as health reform and other forces in the U.S. health care system alter contemporary delivery and payment models.

Among the key findings of the study was how EHRs have affected physician professional satisfaction. “Physicians believe in the benefits of electronic health records, and most do not want to go back to paper charts,” said lead author Dr. Mark Friedberg. “But at the same time, they report that electronic systems are deeply problematic in several ways. Physicians are frustrated by systems that force them to do clerical work or distract them from paying close attention to their patients.”

Other findings from the study include: • Excessive productivity quotas and limitations on the time spent with each patient were major sources of physician dissatisfaction. The cumulative pressures associated with workload were described as a “treadmill” and as being “relentless,” sentiments especially common among primary care physicians. • Physicians described the cumulative burden of rules and regulations as being overwhelming and draining time and resources away from patient care. • Perceptions of collegiality, fairness, and respect were key factors affecting whether physicians were satisfied. Within the practices studied, frequent meetings with other doctors and other health professionals fostered greater collegiality and satisfaction.

[Source: Rand Corporation; October 9, 2013.]

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