Doctors don’t have time for bedside manner – and it can be disastrous 

Does your doctor have poor bedside manner? They could be burnt out. The importance of bedside manner in the medical profession cannot be overstated, as it significantly impacts patient satisfaction, compliance with treatment plans, and overall health outcomes. Good bedside manner, characterized by empathy, clear communication, and patient engagement, fosters a trusting relationship between doctors and patients, essential for effective healthcare delivery. However, the increasing prevalence of burnout among healthcare professionals poses a significant challenge to maintaining high standards of bedside manner. Burnout, stemming from long hours, high stress, administrative burdens, and the emotional toll of patient care, can lead to exhaustion, detachment, and reduced capacity for empathy. Consequently, doctors experiencing burnout may struggle to provide the level of compassionate care and communication that is critical for patient well-being. Addressing burnout is essential not only for the health of medical professionals but also for ensuring the quality of care that patients receive.

When we are faced with the stress and uncertainty of a health crisis, we often turn to our physicians as a sense of calm and safety, but for many of us that is not what we are met with. In the throes of a health crisis, patients naturally seek more than just medical expertise from their physicians; they look for a sense of calm and safety, an emotional anchor in the midst of turmoil. The expectation is that a doctor will not only diagnose and treat but also provide reassurance and hope, helping to navigate the often-frightening journey through illness. However, the harsh reality for many patients is a departure from this ideal. Instead of encountering empathy and understanding, they are met with hurried consultations, clinical detachment, and sometimes, an apparent indifference to their emotional state. This disconnect can exacerbate the stress and uncertainty of their situation, leaving patients feeling isolated and anxious at a time when support is most needed. The challenge lies not only in the demands of medical practice but also in the systemic pressures that limit the time and energy doctors can dedicate to each patient, impacting their ability to be the source of comfort that many patients seek.

Doctors have a limited amount of time and energy, and it should be spent on keeping patients alive.

“The fact of the matter is that our physicians are facing 27-hour days. Between paperwork, credentialing, and continuing education, they are left with little time to build meaningful connections with patients. Although they understand that bedside manners are important to the wellbeing of their patients, they cannot pour from an empty cup. The primary focus should remain on the core of the job to avoid burnout. It’s quite unfortunate but necessary in order to keep up with the excessive workload expected of doctors ” shares Sarah Worthy, CEO of DoorSpace.

Your doctor isn’t mad at you – they’re mad at paperwork and other mundane tasks that prevent them from being more attentive with patients.

“On top of the two hours of patient documentation a physician has for every one hour they spend treating patients – physicians also have almost nine hours per week of non-patient related paperwork. A lot of what constitutes a physician’s paperwork is writing down the same information repeatedly. The bulk of that time spent on non-patient related paperwork can easily be automated by moving to a centralized data-management system. The time that this could save our physicians could greatly impact their interactions with patients and could potentially re-ignite their love for practicing medicine.”

The phenomenon of poor bedside manners among doctors is often a symptom of a much larger issue: burnout. The relentless pressures of medical practice, coupled with systemic inefficiencies, leave many healthcare professionals exhausted and unable to engage with patients in the compassionate, empathetic manner that is so crucial during times of vulnerability. While the primary objective of healthcare must always be the physical well-being of patients, the significance of emotional support and clear communication cannot be dismissed. Solutions such as reducing administrative burdens, implementing more efficient data-management systems, and addressing the root causes of burnout are essential steps toward enabling doctors to fulfill their roles not just as healers, but as sources of comfort and reassurance. Ultimately, tackling these challenges is imperative for enhancing the quality of patient care, improving patient outcomes, and restoring the satisfaction and well-being of healthcare professionals. This concerted effort can rekindle the passion for medicine among doctors, allowing them to provide the level of care and support their patients deserve.