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What is provider burnout and how does it impact patient care?

Burnout is a term that is related to job-related stress and exhaustion, which, in turn, can lead to a reduction in effectiveness and general accomplishment. Provider burnout or physician burnout is a term that has been widely discussed in recent times.

Provider burnout occurs when a healthcare provider is overwhelmed and unable to provide the same quality of service they did before. In 2003, the World Health Organization (WHO) first issued a statement about high burnout levels in healthcare providers and recommended that all national medical associations take this seriously. 

Almost ten years later, the rate of burnout has only increased. The U.S. healthcare system says physician burnout is at its worst right now. About 63% of healthcare providers say that they are experiencing signs of exhaustion and work-related stress at least once a week. 

What causes provider burnout?

The medical practice part of healthcare is something physicians are used to. What has changed in the last decade is the administrative and back-end add-ons. Most patients now have insurance coverage, meaning the healthcare providers are responsible for sending in claims and receiving reimbursements for the services provided.

This may sound very straightforward on paper, but it is not so easy in reality. All healthcare providers have billing and coding teams that take up claims submissions and follow through until the bills are cleared and reimbursements are made.

The following are some, if not all, of the steps the billing and coding team needs to handle daily for every patient who gets treated.

  • Collecting patient demographics
  • Checking patient eligibility and benefits
  • Coordinating with the physicians and getting the list of treatments offered
  • Getting back to physicians and nurses for queries on the list
  • Creating a bill based on the treatment
  • Checking how much coverage the person gets and creating claims accordingly
  • Checking copayer details, if any, and getting in touch with the patient with that part of the bill
  • Building codes and adding modifiers
  • Sending the claim to the insurance provider and following through
  • Handling denials and rejections
  • Data analysis

If you have an internal medical billing and coding team, even though they handle the tasks themselves, it is the provider’s responsibility to manage the team and its operations.

Surveys say that physicians complain about the increase in the administrative part of healthcare that they have been required to handle in the last few years.

A doctor recently mentioned on social media that doctors don’t leave their careers. Instead, they leave inboxes! That is how intensive and time-consuming answering emails and queries has become for physicians.

Insurance providers like Medicare and Medicaid keep changing their terms regularly. Healthcare providers need to be on their feet, knowing these changes and tweaking their processes. 

What are the effects of provider burnout?

From the provider’s point of view, burnout can lead to excessive stress and physical and mental exhaustion. This can lead to physicians being unable to work as effectively as before. Over time, extreme burnout can lead to physicians quitting or reducing their work hours.

From the patient’s point of view, provider burnout can lead to severe consequences. People visit doctors hoping they feel and get better. What happens when doctors cannot provide the right service because of their mental and physical state?

This means patient care gets affected. From being unable to rightly diagnose a condition to causing unintentional patient death, physician burnout can directly affect the patient in different ways.

Provider burnout, as a whole, also affects patients. The quality of care reduces. Patients may not get appointments on time, and the products used for diagnosis and treatment may not be of the best quality. Patient experience reduces because healthcare employees are overloaded with work and are not able to respond to or answer queries the right way. 

Handling provider burnout

Provider burnout must be handled at multiple levels if the healthcare system wants to sustain and keep offering quality patient services. 

Physicians are the core of the healthcare industry, and if they are constantly overworked, the industry will suffer.

Here are steps to take to handle provider burnout.

  • Use tools like surveys and feedback to analyze the extent of provider burnout within your practice.
  • Start offering flexible work shifts wherever possible. Do not allow staff to work more than 12 hours a day, allowing them ample time to rest and refresh.
  • Implement employee wellness programs that focus on their physical and mental health. 

Will outsourcing RCM make a difference?

If you think the administrative part of your business is causing burnout, outsourcing the process can help. Third-party medical billing and coding companies come with all the required tools and expertise to take over the entire RCM operations. Once they take over, you may not have to intervene regularly or spend so much time handling these steps.

When a brand like Quintessence partners with you, we make sure to understand your existing processes and then make the right changes that can handle the challenges you have been facing in the past.

Our AI and ML-based tools can bring speed and precision to your RCM operations, both of which can help improve patient experience, decrease the load on the existing workforce, and reduce the AR cycle

When you outsource RCM, you don’t have to worry about managing an in-house billing and coding team, handling exits, hiring, and the increasing costs of operating the workforce. Your service provider will handle all the backend tasks while you can use their services and focus on your priority – treating patients.


If you haven’t thought about how the existing workload affects your physicians and other medical practitioners, it is time to understand the impact and take corrective measures. Your workforce is your biggest asset despite how much you have invested in equipment and tools. 

Working on techniques that promote work-life balance, outsourcing services that other experts can handle, and simply listening to your physicians and meeting their needs can all help prevent provider burnout and promote a better quality of life for them. 

Keeping your physicians happy will improve patient care and the quality of services rendered too. 

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