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Can Subsidized Vacations Cure Physician Burnout?

Too Many ER Docs? / Corporate Medicine Threatens Clinicians and Patients / AI Aids Time-Critical Decisions

The LOUNGE - A Newsletter for Savvy Physicians

We scour the net, selecting the most pertinent articles for the busy doc so you don’t have to! Here’s what kept our focus this week…

  • Physician burnout is a pressing issue in the health care industry with detrimental effects on both healthcare providers and the American public.

  • Learn from renowned coach Marshall Goldsmith as he shares the top 5 bad habits that can hinder your success.

  • Private equity firms are taking advantage of struggling hospitals and practices during the pandemic, exacerbating physician burnout and reducing patient choice.

  • Feeling overwhelmed by the ever-increasing volume of decisions they need to make, 85% of business leaders admit to experiencing decision stress.

  • Medicare payment reform is urgently needed to prevent further cuts and maintain access to high-quality care for millions of older adults and people with disabilities.

  • As the health care workforce faces staffing shortages, an oversupply of emergency physicians looms on the horizon.


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Physician burnout is an alarming problem in the healthcare industry, affecting both healthcare providers and the public. This essay focuses on the mental health benefits that family physicians gain from taking vacations and proposes government subsidization of their vacation time as a solution to mitigating burnout. Research shows that burnout leads to reduced job satisfaction, medical errors, and decreased productivity, thereby compromising patient care. Vacations allow family physicians to recharge, reduce stress, and maintain a healthy work-life balance. Government subsidization of vacation time can incentivize physicians to take regular breaks and acknowledge the importance of their mental well-being. Collaborating with insurance companies is also essential to alleviate the financial burden of vacations. By investing in the mental health of family physicians, the government ensures better patient care and demonstrates its commitment to public health.

Renowned coach Marshall Goldsmith has compiled a list of the 20 Bad Habits That Limit Highly Successful People based on his four decades of coaching executives. By sharing and discussing this list with his team, the author embarked on a journey of self-reflection and identified his top five bad habits. These habits include the overwhelming desire to add input to every conversation, using emotional volatility as a management tool, the inability to give genuine praise and reward, attacking those who try to help, and exalting faults as virtues. The author highlights the actions taken to overcome these habits, emphasizing the importance of discernment, emotional control, genuine recognition, seeking understanding, and focusing on self-improvement.

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Physicians and academicians have expressed concern over the corporatization of medicine and the lack of action taken by state and federal authorities to address the issue. Rates of physician burnout have reached a record high, with private equity firms taking advantage of struggling hospitals and practices during the pandemic. The consolidation and opportunism of these firms have led to negative changes in healthcare settings and reduced patient choice. Anesthesiology practices have also been targeted, causing further distress among physicians. Additionally, private equity and for-profit corporations are seeking to exploit hospice groups for profit. Government oversight agencies like the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) have been criticized for not addressing misconduct and inappropriate mergers in the healthcare industry. Advocacy groups and medical societies are working to revive bans on corporate practice of medicine (CPOM) and advocate for due process rights for physicians.

Business leaders and managers are under immense pressure to make the right decisions in today's fast-paced and high-pressure work environment. Research conducted by Oracle and Seth Stephens-Davidowitz reveals that 85% of business leaders have experienced decision stress. Moreover, three-quarters of them have seen the daily volume of decisions they need to make increase tenfold over the last three years. To address this challenge, more and more businesses are turning to AI-powered technologies as a means to improve decision-making capabilities. These technologies include virtual advisors and sounding boards that can help bridge the data-insight gap and provide valuable insights in time-critical situations.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has proposed a 3.36% cut to Medicare physician payment in 2024, following a 2% cut in 2023. This poses a significant threat to the accessibility of high-quality physician care for the more than 50 million older adults and people with disabilities enrolled in Medicare. Physicians also face potential Medicare payment penalties under the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS), with the ability to apply for a hardship exception to avoid penalties in 2025. However, this exception must be actively requested, and applications are due by January 2, 2024. The AMA is actively advocating for Medicare payment reform and has delivered a document outlining the potential damage of these cuts to the CMS. Momentum for Medicare reform is building, including bipartisan support from House members. It is crucial to continue pushing for reform to protect patient access to care.

The emergency medicine field is facing a potential oversupply of physicians, even as other areas of healthcare struggle with staffing shortages. A study by the American College of Emergency Physicians predicted a surplus of nearly 8,000 emergency physicians by 2030. The news of the surplus caused a decline in medical students' interest in the field, leading to unmatched residency seats. Christus Spohn Hospital in Texas has announced plans to shut down its emergency residency program, leaving an underserved community without sufficient doctors. The complex issue of managing the healthcare workforce and residency programs is influenced by outdated government stipulations, financial concerns, and corporate interests. Experts suggest better allocation of resources and addressing workforce needs to tackle the potential surplus of emergency physicians.



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