There are over 60 million Americans suffering from GI disorders annually. With digestive issues on the rise post-pandemic, Gastroenterologists (GI doctors) are busier than ever, tending to patients’ unsettled stomach and heart burn to performing essential procedures like endoscopies and colonoscopies. Managing a high patient load, documentation and direct patient care is challenging. No wonder, the increasing burden of documentation, patient visits, and regulatory tasks has led to rising burnout rates among GI doctors. Fortunately, there is a light at the end of the tunnel – virtual medical scribes. Gastroenterology virtual scribes help to document patient encounters in real-time, allowing GI doctors to focus on delivering quality care.

Burnout rates among GI doctors

As we transition into the post-pandemic phase, the burnout rates among GI doctors are a cause for concern. According to the Medscape Gastroenterologist Lifestyle, Burnout & Happiness Report, the happiness levels of GI doctors have significantly dropped, with nearly 48% of them reporting feeling burned out. The top two reasons cited for this burnout were “too many bureaucratic tasks and increasing computerization of practice” (EHRs). Astonishingly, female GI doctors reported a higher burnout rate of 57% compared to their male counterparts at 42%. Moreover, 60% of GI doctors revealed that burnout negatively impacted their personal relationships. These alarming statistics indicate a pressing need for a solution to mitigate burnout and improve work-life balance.

Reasons for high burnout rates among GI doctors

High burnout rates among gastrointestinal (GI) doctors have become a significant concern within the medical community. Carol Burke’s study found that GI doctors spend eight hours on direct patient care, three hours on administrative tasks, and two hours work-related tasks at home. This adds up to thirteen hours in a day. While the perception might be that excessive work hours are the primary cause, recent studies reveal that administrative burdens and paperwork, rather than sheer workload, are the leading contributors to burnout.

How to overcome burnout in GI doctors

To combat burnout among GI doctors, innovative strategies are emerging. A noteworthy solution involves alleviating the documentation burden that often consumes a substantial portion of their time. Employing a gastroenterology virtual scribe has proven effective in this regard. These virtual scribes efficiently handle medical charting, ensuring that physicians have accurate records ready within minutes of the patient encounter, or even before the patient leaves the room. Dr. David Haas, Director of Endoscopy at Yale New Haven Hospital, emphasized the significance of addressing burnout within GI practices. He advocated for medical scribes as a means to enable doctors to fully concentrate on patient care and seamlessly transition between patients.

What studies have to say on how medical scribes can help GI doctors?

Research supports the positive impact of medical scribes on GI doctors’ well-being and productivity. A study conducted in October 2018 explored the efficacy of medical scribes in a GI ambulatory clinic setting. Results indicated that scribes contribute to enhanced physician efficiency, potentially leading to increased productivity. This efficiency could translate to doctors being able to attend to more patients within the same time frame.

Further bolstering the case for medical scribes, a study published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology in October 2017 underscored their benefits. This study specifically focused on the implementation of medical scribes within GI labs. The findings highlighted increased physician satisfaction, heightened productivity, and a notable outcome: the potential to generate more revenue by performing additional procedures in the same timeframe.

Additionally, a recent study in February 2021 delved into the impact of a medical scribe program in an outpatient pediatric gastroenterology clinic. This study echoed the sentiment that medical scribes have the potential to boost physician productivity and streamline workflow efficiency. The reduction in time spent on documentation directly contributed to this improvement.

In conclusion, addressing burnout among GI doctors requires a strategic approach that targets the administrative burdens impeding their professional fulfilment. The emergence of medical scribes as a solution is supported by multiple studies, showcasing their ability to enhance efficiency, productivity, and overall job satisfaction. As healthcare continues to evolve, integrating gastroenterology virtual medical scribes into GI practices will play a pivotal role in reshaping the landscape, alleviating burnout, and optimizing patient care.

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