Pain Points – Supporting the Specialists


Our recent survey of over 200 Specialists from 15+ specialties across Australia in the So What? Research Survey of Australian Doctors shows that the biggest pain point they experience is their workload. In an open-ended question about pain points, one in four (26%) say that the number of hours they do, the number of patients they see, and the residual effects of COVID-19 are all impacting the quality of their work and life.


I’m working ridiculously long hours... in my case 60+ hours a week.


There is a common expectation amongst us that physicians have a higher resilience and tolerance to stress than other professions, so the fact that so many specialists complain of a difficult workload shows just how under pressure they are.


This is exacerbated by staff shortages, the second highest pain point on their list. Again, COVID-19 is partly to answer but it’s also the number of junior doctors coming through the system and the younger generation’s focus on their own wellbeing as well as that of their patients. The main issue, though, is the huge task that specialists face of staying abreast of patient needs without adequate professionals to do it.


Top 5 Pain Points of Specialists

After staff shortages comes a lack of resources, explained by this Specialist:


“There’s not enough clinic time in public hospitals to accommodate the enormous referral load and there are very poor IT services in the public system”.


One in four (24%) specialists complain about the lack of resources to do their job well and by this they mean many things: theatre access; limitations due to equipment costs; access to in-patient beds and lack of supply of some medications.


Specialists are also frustrated, at times, by patients themselves. There is mention of some patients not turning up to appointments, cancelling at the eleventh hour or becoming increasingly demanding. On top of that is the increase in the complexity of patient cases which, with staff shortages thrown in, can only add to more workload for over busy specialists.


Finally, there is the burden of paperwork which can get in the way of the quality of a patient consult. With so much time spent on administration, some specialists say they simply don’t have the hours they need to always give optimal time to their patients.


Generally, in our survey, doctors highlighted several pain points that they were facing. One paediatrician summed this up: “It’s staffing issues (recruitment, retention, burnout), bed access pressures and an increase in self harm in the young population”.


What, if anything, can pharma do to address some of these pain points? Is there a role for pharma in helping specialists in these key areas of their working lives?


If you’d like to know more about the specific responses from specialists from our survey, please don’t hesitate to get in touch