Medscape’s Physician Compensation Report is widely known as the go-to source for salary information and other factors affecting US doctors’ income. But tucked among the statistics about which specialties feel fairly compensated, you’ll find numbers that also tell a story about work hours and physician burnout.

To be sure, Medscape also has a Physician Burnout & Depression Report. While insightful, that survey only tells part of the story. The Burnout Report doesn’t summarize hours spent on paperwork or other variables that help connect burnout to problems and solutions from digital health.

Taken together, the compensation and burnout reports raise some interesting questions about EHRs, physician burnout, and how mobile health might help.

What contributes to physician burnout?

Medscape’s Burnout Report tells us what we already know about EHRS, but it bears repeating.

Respondents who reported burnout could select more than one contributing factor. Over half (55 percent) said that an excess of bureaucratic tasks like charting and paperwork is what’s dragging them down.

From the Medscape National Physician Burnout & Suicide Report 2020

Notice that the second most popular choice is long hours, while lack of respect comes in third. A close fourth – cited by 30% of respondents – is frustration with EHRs.

This number is incredible but will surprise few. Nearly a third of respondents who experience burnout say “increasing computerization of practice” is a contributing factor. While healthcare adopted EHRs to make documentation more efficient, we’re constantly hearing about doctors’ frustrations with the switch to digital.

Hours per week spent on paperwork and administration

The reason doctors are frustrated with charting and admin work is simple.

In 2014, just 35 percent of employed and 26 percent of self-employed physicians spent 10 hours or more on paperwork each week. In 2017, that number was 57 percent. By 2018, nearly three-fourths (70 percent) of physicians spent more than 10 hours per week on paperwork and administrative tasks.

In 2020, physicians spent an average of 15.6 hours on paperwork and administration each week.

From Medscape’s 2018 Physician Compensation Report

The rise of physician burnout correlated closely with the widespread adoption of EHRs. While correlation isn’t causation, it’s clear that for most doctors EHR adoption has meant they spend more time on paperwork and charts, not less. EHRs haven’t helped most doctors get back time for the parts of medicine they care about – but they should.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

What do doctors care about? For the fourth year in a row, physicians have cited “gratitude/relationship with patients” as the most rewarding factor of their profession.

Now flip to the next slide and notice that when physicians are asked about the most challenging part of their job, “working with the EHR system” comes in second, tied with “having to work long hours.”

You’re beginning to get the picture.

What if mHealth could help?

What if EHRs and the “computerization of practice” weren’t among the top challenges reported by physicians? What if doctors felt that digital health was making their job easier, not worse? What if Medscape’s 2025 survey finally reported that physicians were spending fewer hours on paperwork and administration?

This is the vision behind Mobius MD and other companies working to make mobile devices a useful part of medicine. Mobius Clinic is the revolutionary, office-proven app that eliminates up to 90 percent of the EHR work on every patient visit.

“What if doctors felt that digital health was making their job easier, not worse?”

By making smartphones a clinical tool, physicians can get back hours of lost time every week. Doctors use Mobius to automate their workflow with modern charting tools like mobile dictation, so they can spend time with patients instead of their computers.

Use mHealth to build an efficient practice

At the end of an earlier version of their Burnout & Depression Report, Medscape offers “Some advice from your peers.”

From Medscape’s 2018 Physician Burnout and Depression Report

Doctors using Mobius would add one idea to this great list of tips: Build an efficient practice by using your smartphone as a clinical tool.

If you’re not sure where to start, here are a few ideas:

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