2020 burnout statistics and how AI brings hope for the future

Feb. 7, 2020 / By Jacob Amezcua

Physician burnout is reaching a crisis level. Statistics from the 2020 Medscape National Physician Burnout & Suicide Report show that burnout remains a major challenge that affects physician happiness, relationships and the ability to care for their patients:

  • 42 percent of physicians report they are burned out
  • 73 percent of physicians say burnout has impacted their relationships
  • 44 percent of physicians say burnout has a ‘severe impact’ on their lives
  • 16 percent of physicians report being depressed (which may be influenced by burnout)
  • An estimated 300-400 physicians commit suicide each year

Doctors are crying out for help. In fact, 49 percent of physicians would accept less money in exchange for a better work-life balance.

The number one reason for burnout? Too many bureaucratic tasks, including documentation and administrative burdens.

There is a lot of noise around how artificial intelligence (AI) and virtual assistant technologies can help simplify administrative tasks and aid physician workflows, but what is real and what is hype?

In a recent interview with Becker’s Hospital Review, Michael Finke, vice president of 3M’s M*Modal business, gives his view on ambient and AI technology: “To me, ambient intelligence is not a revolution, but more of a guided evolution,” says Finke. “If we set unrealistic expectations for this to be a revolution, we may set the market back by years; we need to incrementally innovate and move it forward.”

Finke gives examples of how today’s technologies are helping create more time to care for clinicians: “For more than four years, we have been providing AI-driven, over-the-shoulder assistance to physicians as they work in the EHR in the form of proactive and context-specific clinical insights,” says Finke. “This has now advanced to a virtual assistant that supports more ambient, intuitive and conversational workflows. The virtual assistant can help with conversational order entry, conversational chart search, free-form ambient documentation, and other such routine clinician tasks.”

Finke believes AI should be ‘”unremarkable”: “By (unremarkable) I mean the technology should run quietly in the background with the goal of helping clinicians do the right things, faster and more easily,” says Finke. “Ultimately, the goal is to make clinical documentation a by-product of the patient-doctor encounter, and not a separate and possibly burdensome task for the doctor.”

Finke will be speaking more about how AI is being used to reduce the administrative burden on clinicians in an upcoming webinar on February 13. Access the archive here.

Jacob Amezcua, marketing communications associate with 3M Health Information Systems.