Documentation for Gender Equity
Studies show that even in the beginning of their medical careers, women are making significantly less than men. In 2008 in New York State, new physicians who were male were making almost $17,000 more than their counterparts who were women, and continued to report significantly lower starting salaries for women than men when for specialty type and hours. The gender pay gap widens as time goes on - primary care physicians who are men make on average $30,000, or 16%, more than primary care specialists who are female. This gap is significantly wider based on gender, as a study documented that internists who are white women made 19% less than white, non-hispanic men and black women who are internists made almost 30% less than white, hispanic male internists
Healthcare has a gender equity issue, while women in healthcare are providing care which is more patient-centered but also more time consuming and challenging to document. Tools which reduce those burdens for women providing medical care are tools which can address gender equity.
Women who are doctors spend, on average, about two minutes more with each of their patients. During patient visits, they are more likely to provide psychosocial counseling and have better patient-centered communication than their counterparts who are men.
Furthermore, healthcare providers who are women are more likely to “engage in preventive medicine.” Their patients are significantly more likely to receive a PAP smear, be tested for HPV, receive a mammogram, or cholesterol tests. This additional time gives providers more time to holistically address patient care and can strengthen rapports between patients and their healthcare providers. Studies indicate that healthcare providers who are female are cultivating an environment that makes patients feel more comfortable: they “speak more overall, disclose more medical information, and make more positive statements.”
Data has indicated that when adjusted for other characteristics, hospitalists who are women have better patient outcomes in terms of both mortality rates and readmission rates than hospitalists who are men.
However, even in the same specialties and fields, strong gender gaps persist. Women are not being compensated for the extra care that they are providing to their patients, and may even be spending more time documenting and following-up on this extra care that they are providing--without it being compensated.
Gender pay gaps and then pay structures may doubly contribute to significantly lower pay for healthcare providers who are women.
Studies show that even in the beginning of their medical careers, women are making significantly less than men. In 2008 in New York State, new physicians who were male were making almost $17,000 more than their counterparts who were women, and continued to report significantly lower starting salaries for women than men when for specialty type and hours. The gender pay gap widens as time goes on - primary care physicians who are men make on average $30,000, or 16%, more than primary care specialists who are female. This gap is significantly wider based on gender, as a study documented that internists who are white women made 19% less than white, non-hispanic men and black women who are internists made almost 30% less than white, hispanic male internists.
Pay structures based on RVUs may not adequately compensate for this care. As a result, services which can help healthcare providers accurately and efficiently document care can be crucial specifically for women in the field. Having a record which indicates that you have provided your patients with more care and spent more time with your patients may be able to affect billing, either by ensuring that whatever that you can be billed for is accounted for. Furthermore, documenting and follow-up on that additional care which healthcare professionals that are women provide more often adds another layer of paperwork and administrative work to the already cumbersome burden. Therefore, a transcription service with extremely accurate Natural Language Processing (NLP) which can summarize and format your visits nearly in real time can make a massive difference to effectively and efficiently document your time.
Furthermore, time is precious. Healthcare providers who are women are more likely to have a greater burden of domestic, childcare, and other caregiving work than their counterparts who are men. Work-life balance is particularly challenging for women because they are more likely to take on significantly more childcare and face maternal discriminaiton particularly in times in their career when they are just starting out. When careers are most demanding of time that is also one of the most demanding times for female physicians’ family pressures and needs - childcare, etc. and therefore have a slower start into medicine. Women who are physicians are more likely than men to take time off for childcare and do more domestic work around the house. In general, women take on more of other caregiving responsibilities for adult parents, for example. Furthermore, women are more likely to have turned down a promotion due to childcare responsibilities.
In dual-physician households, men are able to spend more time working than women. In heterosexual households, work hours for doctors who are men are 33% more than their partners who are women when the couple has a child under two years old. While this gap narrows as when the child is older, the physician who is a man will continue to be able to work significantly more than their partner who is a woman.
Every initiative which can reduce burnout and expand opportunities for real leisure time for medical providers who are women has the potential to address gender equity and improve quality of life.
The glass ceiling exists in almost every industry, and while the healthcare industry is better than most, underrepresentation based on gender is still prominent, especially intersectional representation. Furthermore, female healthcare providers are underrepresented in leadership positions, especially women of color. When they are in leadership positions, women in healthcare are more likely to be disrespected and are less likely to receive awards for their work. Additionally, women in healthcare are more likely to experience more harassment than their male counterparts. This can contribute to a more stressful working environment.
Women are more likely to be expected to take on a higher burden of administrative tasks while being excluded from administrative leadership in any position as compared to their peers who are men, and are more likely to report higher rates of burnout.
Our industry should be celebrating and rewarding this type of care, and ensuring that this healthcare that prioritizes meaningful time spent with patients is celebrated and rewarded. We should be recording and acknowledging the positive impact of this care because more time spent with patients, more preventative medicine, and stronger patient-provider rapports translates into better care. Gender equity in healthcare is better healthcare.
Therefore, tools which can alleviate increased documentation and the administrative workloads which are disproportionately shifted to women in healthcare are important tools to address gender equity--and provide healthcare providers with a greater work-life balance.