Mary Mulcare, MD, FACEP, Summus Chief Medical Officer
Mark Abber, Summus Vice President of Network
Physician burnout is an epidemic in the US caused, in part, from prolonged stress from the working environment. More than 230,000 physicians, nurses, and other clinicians quit their jobs in the last year.1 This statistic is particularly alarming when considering that it far exceeds the number of new doctors entering the field of medicine in a given year—and the US population is continuing to grow and age.2
Physicians notoriously work long hours, take on increased administrative burden, and assume high patient loads. All this without the proper infrastructure or support. These working conditions can contribute to emotional exhaustion and depersonalization. This often results in compromised patient care and in physicians and other healthcare providers leaving the field of medicine.
Roughly, 63% of physicians report signs of burnout.3
A survey of more than 500 physicians across several medical specialities showed that using the virtual medium to support patient care improved work-life balance (36%) and symptoms of burnout (30%). Nearly half of physicians indicated a preference for virtual health over in-person visits, when possible.4
Virtual health improves the physician experience
Physician burnout is more than the working conditions—it’s a disconnect between doctors and their humanitarian mission to help others. The prevalence of burnout among physicians underscores the need for comprehensive changes in the healthcare environment, with virtual health serving as an innovative and transformative way to improve the physician experience and support patient care.
Virtual care that uses a physician-first approach, helps specialists better use their expertise by:
- Reducing administrative responsibilities, allowing physicians to spend more time with members—listening to their concerns, empathizing with them, and addressing their questions with depth and nuance.
- Delivering their perspective and expertise aligned to each member’s unique needs. Virtual care technology matches physicians to people who need their expertise, supporting positive healthcare experiences from reduced fragmentation, informed decision making, and better outcomes. What’s more, specialists value the opportunity to share their expertise at a level that commensurates with their years of experience and draw on their clinical practice in the field.
- Connecting with members on a personal level in focused, private conversations. Physicians asking open-ended questions to learn more about a member, genuinely expressing care that will impact the way that person feels, and thereby empowering them to take action toward better health is intrinsically rewarding for specialists. This connection is possible in the virtual environment where consultations are devoid of the distractions present in traditional brick and mortar settings. Additionally, virtual consultations extend beyond the traditional 15 minutes, with an open ended time allotment for the physician to use. This additional time lets members know they are heard—and that someone really cares about them.
Summus supports physician mental health
At Summus, we believe deeply in the transformative power of human connection. We use the best aspects of technology—designed by and for physicians—to connect humans to other humans in a meaningful way. We do this by connecting employees, health plan members, and even other physicians to renown physicians and clinicians who take the time to listen, educate, and work collaboratively to develop a path forward in care. When the consultative aspect of physicians’ job is prioritized it provides a sense of connection and belonging.
We often receive feedback from specialists in our network thanking us for the opportunity to take the time and use their expertise to provide education and guidance to our members. Many note after consultations that this is why they went into medicine—to help people. Specialists consistently report 9.4/10 satisfaction participating in virtual care consultations.
Why the physician experience should matter to employers
Employers must consider the physician experience when selecting benefits for their employees because physician burnout:
- directly impacts the quality of education, guidance, and care provided to employees
- impacts access and availability of physicians, which contributes to longer wait times for appointments and reduced access to specialists
When choosing solutions that provide direct access to physicians it is important to ensure that the solution prioritizes the physician experience. Specifically, solutions should use tools that are designed with and by the physician, easing administrative burden and allowing them to get back to the consultative aspect of their job—caring for other humans.
Join the Summus physician network
Interested physicians can join our network, and start sharing their expertise with others in the moments that matter most. Fast access to leading physicians results in better decisions and better outcomes.
- Over 200,000 healthcare workers quit jobs last year | Healthcare Dive
- What is physician burnout? | American Medical Association (ama-assn.org)
- Physician Satisfaction With Telemedicine During the COVID-19 Pandemic: The Mayo Clinic Florida Experience – PMC (nih.gov)