Tom Gallo Discusses How Burnout Is Increasing and the Role of Technology

Tom Gallo, president of the Association of Community Cancer Centers, discusses how burnout is on the rise, but being better addressed now, as well as how technology can both contribute to and alleviate burnout.

What is the difference between how burnout used to be addressed compared with now?
I don’t think it was addressed in the past, to be honest with you. I do think that there is probably more physician burnout today due to the increasing complexity of cancer care, as well as the increasing complexity of the healthcare system, itself, just in terms of reimbursement and authorization for treatment, and just the complexity of care with the new advances in care. I think burnout, itself, is on the rise. We have more cancer patients, more survivors, more people to take care of. On the positive side, cancer patients are living longer, but again, we’re seeing a bigger patient burden put on a limited number of physicians.

How can technology be both a burden that attributes to burnout, but also something that can alleviate burnout?
I think technology can be part of the solution and I think there is the promise that it can be part of the solution at some point in the future. There are however, a lot of additional tasks that physicians have to do with the EHRs, and the inability of the different systems to speak to each other and transfer data between systems is a problem.

As an example, my physicians in our practice, we have an oncology specific EHR, but then we also see patients in a multi-hospital system, and each one of those hospital systems has their own EHR, and they’re different. So we have physicians who have to now 3 or 4 separate EHR functionalities and processes in order to get through their day seeing the patients. It’s difficult.
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