PORTLAND, Maine — You may not be surprised to discover that your physician is under a lot of stress, especially through this pandemic. What may be surprising though, is to know how that changes your quality of care.
Dr. Reagan Anderson is the author of Universal Death Care: A Solution for Healthcare In the Age of Entitlement. Anderson was a combat doctor in Iraq and now runs a medical clinic, where he works on changing healthcare in America. If not, he says, the outcome can be grim for both providers and patients.
"Last year they did a survey and about 80% of physicians said that they were experiencing burnout," Dr. Anderson says. "The crazy part of that is that only about 12% blame the burnout on Covid."
While there are many factors that contribute to that added anxiety, or poor mental health, some of it is the administrative burden, Anderson says. "Less than 40% of our time is being spent on direct patient care, and the rest of it is fighting with insurance companies or filling out a government-mandated requirement that the government thinks is a good idea, but hasn’t been proven to actually improve outcomes."
So what needs to change within our healthcare system? According to Dr. Anderson, everything. "We need to fix the administrative burden so that physicians are doing what they do best, which is patient care. We need to hold the insurance companies accountable so they don’t require us to do things like prior authorizations - which really, they have no business denying in the first place."
"We also need to educate our patients and our public that the primary responsibility for your individual health is not your doctor, it is you," Anderson says. "Are you eating your carrots? Are you exercising? Have you quit smoking? Are you drinking responsibly? All of the things that you and I know we must to do, but we don’t."
The numbers are already shocking, even without a pandemic thrown in, but Dr. Anderson says that could have deadly impacts on patients and physicians alike. "You have a higher chance of going to your doctor and having them have burnout or other mental health disorders, than you do of them being fully functional. That’s going to lead to misdiagnoses, that’s going to lead to you not having a good visit, that’s going to lead to all sorts of problems. So this is not just a problem where people can say, 'Oh, it’s just on the doctors... they’ll figure it out.' This has to be something that all of us look at and say, we need to encourage the health of our physicians."
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