Day to day, doctors deal with lots of difficult beyond the immediate demands of patient health. Three of the top challenges facing physicians in 2020 include caring for yourself, using the EMR efficiently and getting paid. We’ll talk briefly about each challenge and share some solutions that work for many providers.

The top challenges facing physicians

1. Caring for yourself

Professional burnout is a growing issue in the healthcare community. Most physicians spend 35-40 hours per week seeing patients and over 15 hours on paperwork and administrative work. This leaves little time for personal healthy, family life and sleep.

But physician burnout isn’t just about long hours and work-life balance. It’s about a growing mismatch between doctors’ values and how they spend their work days. While doctors consistently rank “Gratitude/relationships with patients” as the most rewarding part of their job, they spending more time than ever on administrative tasks.

One of the biggest challenges physicians face is an increase in paperwork and administrative tasks. In 2012, most doctors (53 percent) had about 1-4 hours of paperwork per week. In 2019, most (74 percent) say they spend over 10 hours per week on paperwork and administration. Over a third spend more than 20 hours.

Professionals in health care can improve their resiliency by maximizing clinical efficiencies and making sure to get enough personal time. The usual suggestions apply – make sure to eat well, get enough sleep and nurture supportive relationships.

But there are also ways to address burnout in the workplace. Reign in your workload by invest time in systems that create efficiencies. Manage your team to prioritize community, fairness and reward. These types of adjustments create an engaging workplace that will energize rather than deplete you.

2. Using the EMR efficiently

One reason doctors decide to reduce their hours or leave medicine is dissatisfaction with electronic health records. While nearly all hospitals now use EMRs, the transition has created new challenges for physicians.

Doctors complain about two major challenges: clunky EMR interfaces and lack of communication between systems. While neither of these is likely to change in 2020, there are innovative ways to use your existing EMR more efficiently.

Consider these 6 tips for boosting EMR productivity in 2020:

  1. Avoid typing. Consider a mobile medical dictation solution instead.
  2. Customize your EMR. Work with your vendor to customize your settings and eliminate unnecessary steps to streamline data entry.
  3. Involve patients. Save time by allowing patients to handles some data entry via online portals and in-office kiosks.
  4. Delegate. Your support staff are your biggest resource, so consider reworking your office routine.
  5. Go mobile. With the right software, smartphones can streamline your clinical workflow without distracting from patient care.
  6. Go paperless. Save time by implementing a mobile document library that streamlines form completion.

3. Getting paid

Another top challenge facing physicians is consistently getting paid. While just 13 percent of physicians say “difficulties getting fair reimbursement” is the most challenging part of their job, many doctors would like getting paid to be easier. Accurate documentation and coding can help you avoid denials and ensure proper reimbursement levels.

According to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), about 15 percent of evaluation and management (E/M) services are improperly paid. Payers deny claims for two reasons: incorrect coding and insufficient documentation.

Physicians can adopt a few strategies to prevent E/M claims being denied. First, make sure you are providing services that are “reasonable and necessary.” Codes need to match the service provided, but the service also needs to be justifiable in the first place. Second, remember key variables when selecting E/M codes: patient type (new or established), setting/place of service and the level of service provided based on history, examination and complexity of decision making. Finally, don’t forget to obtain necessary provider signatures.

Make sure to review CMS resources for more tips on getting paid.

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