Today is World Heart Day, a time to reflect on the lifestyle changes one ought to make to achieve cardiovascular and overall health. If you’re a provider, chances are you repeat a constant refrain to your patients: avoid trans fats, eat healthy, exercise regularly, reduce stress, don’t smoke, and maintain a healthy BMI to have optimal heart health, but what about you?
Provider burnout is at an all-time high because physicians face increasing pressure from legislative mandates, and administrative duties continue to multiply. We know you’re a pro at helping your patients learn how to be healthy, but do you, as a healthcare provider, actually take the time to consider your own health?
Privia interviewed Dr. Michael Banihashemi, a cardiologist at Cardiac Care Associates in Reston, VA, for tips on how fellow practitioners can manage the stressful life of a provider without ignoring their personal healthcare goals. Below are some of his tips for optimal provider heart health:
Make time for yourself
“Patients view our habits as a reflection of what they should be doing,” says Dr. Banihashemi, “Have balance in your life.” He notes the importance of taking time for lunch and implementing breaks during the day so you’re able to comfortably treat your patients without being rushed. At Cardiac Care Associates, his staff has instituted two breaks per day, one in the morning and in the afternoon, to allow all providers some breathing room in between appointments. “That way, one late patient is less likely to throw off your schedule for the rest of the day. The break acts as a buffer.”
Go see your doctor
This one seems like a no-brainer, but surprisingly, many providers sidestep formal processes when it comes to their own healthcare. “Most don’t take the time to get their yearly exam, or even have a primary physician,” notes Benihashemi. “They won’t go in for an appointment, but every now and then they’ll get a friend to write them a script or draw blood.” Besides the fact that having colleagues perform ad hoc procedures is a legal no-no, not attending all necessary appointments affects the quality of care you receive. “Process in medicine is very important and having procedures done correctly is vital,” says Dr. Banihashemi. And then there is the obvious, says Dr. Benihashemi, “Don’t smoke, which directly undermines the healthy lifestyle that you as a provider are recommending to others. Think about how hypocritical it is to have your provider smelling like smoke during an appointment – that wouldn’t make sense.”
Above all, do no harm – to yourself
A healthy, well-balanced physician can give a lot to their patients. But a stressed-out physician can’t give much and can negatively impact not only their patients’ health but their own. “As reimbursements have gone down, I’ve seen more and more of my colleagues stacking their schedules to see more patients. As they scramble to treat more patients, they burn out.” Dr. Banihashemi notes that this only leads to lower-quality care, poorer outcomes, and less satisfaction within their profession. He recommends not going to such extremes to maximize revenue. “Instead, a long-term strategy is moving your practice to a value-based care model, which rewards physicians on quality, not volume.” In the interim, Dr. Benihashemi suggests helpful additions to your practice, like Privia’s virtual scribes, who take notes during appointments and reduce administrative burdens so providers can focus more on treating and less on documentation.
“There’s an old adage,” says Dr. Benihashemi, “that doctors make the worst patients. But I think it’s time we started thinking of ourselves as both doctors and patients, so we’re able to be the best version of both.”