Barriers to care, EHRs feed into docs’ job dissatisfaction

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Perceptions of providing quality care to patients and frustrations with EHRs play a large role in physicians’ professional satisfaction, a report from RAND Corp. concluded.

The American Medical Association sponsored a study by RAND designed to identify and characterize factors that contribute to physicians’ sense of job satisfaction. RAND contacted 30 physician practices between January and August of 2013 that represented a variety of practices sizes, specialties and ownership models. The assessment included questionnaires, interviews and a survey of 656 physicians.

Two factors rose to the top as significantly affecting physician satisfaction: quality of care and EHRs. Physicians who felt they were delivering high quality care to patients or worked within an organization that facilitated quality care reported better job satisfaction. Physicians who thought they faced obstacles internally or from payers reported professional dissatisfaction.

Many physicians said they supported the concept of EHRs and thought they promised to offer benefits such as greater efficiency and improved care. But in practice, many physicians reported EHRs as a hindrance, citing issues with usability, functionality, taking too much time and interfering with face-to-face patient care. Physicians in practices without support staff to manage data flow or handle data entry were more likely to be dissatisfied.

“Many things affect physician professional satisfaction, but a common theme is that physicians describe feeling stressed and unhappy when they see barriers preventing them from providing quality care,” said lead author Mark Friedberg, MD, in a release. “If their perceptions about quality are correct, then solving these problems will be good for both patients and physicians.”

Other areas that emerged as affecting physician satisfaction were autonomy and work control; practice leadership; collegiality, fairness and respect; work quality and pacing of work; being allowed to work within their expertise; payment, income and practice finances; regulatory and liability concerns; and health reform.

The report was published Oct. 9.