This article was reviewed by Michael B. Rivers, MD
Burnout is a problem that is not going away. As retina surgeons become increasingly busy, operating their practices more efficiently is a key to success.
Seeing patients is only a part of the process. Physicians have to manage their practice, and this includes inventory management, and providing value-based care.
With so many balls in the air at the same time, retina specialists become susceptible to burnout.
According to Michael B. Rivers, MD, retina surgeons often see 90 to 100 patients a day, making it extremely difficult for them to take time off, or even keep up with other practice needs. This phenomenon is not unique to retina specialists.
Dr. Rivers, director, EMA Ophthalmology, at Modernizing Medicine, noted as retina practices have become larger, an increase in patient volume has become an issue as physicians have seen their practices change.
“Along came the ability to treat wet macular degeneration,” he explained. “That was a huge change for retina practices. These patients that you would normally see once a year and you wouldn’t have any treatment for them, you were suddenly seeing them once a month.”
As a result, the volume of patients began to increase almost overnight.
Dr. Rivers recounted a physician he recently visited who sees more than 120 patients a day. The visits do not require a lot of decision making.
“This contributes to burnout because it is not intellectually challenging,” he said. “They have no control over their lives.”
Some physicians may take more vacation, but when they return from vacation, the patients still need to be seen.
“It is a real change if you have moved to a surgical practice with a few patients to a tremendous number of patients,” Dr. Rivers added.