Dr. Bill tackles physician burnout

Who: Medical billing and payment tool Dr. Bill, with RBCx’s in-house creative team; and Agnostic for PR.

What: A new mass awareness campaign timed for National Physicians’ Day (May 1) aimed at raising awareness of physician burnout.

When & Where: The campaign is in market now, running across digital, social, and out-of-home, with a specific focus on high-traffic areas near healthcare centres. Branded Dr. Bill coffee trucks also dispensed free coffee at hospitals in Ontario and B.C. on National Physicians’ Day.

What’s Dr. Bill? Dr. Bill is a software solution intended to simplify the medical billing process for physicians, enabling them to direct more of their time and attention to patient care. Its primary focus is on physicians who practice family medicine and other sub-specialties, and it has grown to nearly 10,000 customers across B.C., Alberta and Ontario since its launch.

The company was acquired by RBC’s non-banking tech incubator arm RBC Ventures (now RBCx) in 2020, and grew with the acquisition of MDBilling last fall. Its staff has more than doubled to 125 people over the past 18 months.

Why:  The campaign comes on the heels of Dr. Bill’s recent $150,000 donation Ontario Medical Foundation (OMF) to fund research into reducing barriers to equitable health care, with a specific focus on physician burnout.

According to director of marketing Jason Magennis, the campaign is intended to be the first step towards what the Canadian Medical Association has described as one of the “most significant challenges” facing the healthcare system.

A 2021 study by the CMA reported that over half of physicians and residents report high levels of burnout. The problem is particularly acute among women (59% versus 43% of men) and those with 20 years or less in practice.

But qualitative research revealed that physicians have grown tired of research quantifying the issue of burnout, and want someone to take a leadership role in finding solutions, said Magennis. “This became the spark behind the campaign; the team saw this as an opportunity to evolve the burnout conversation to a place focused on finding solutions to this troubling issue.”

How: The campaign is built around a series of ads that juxtapose the harsh realities of patient care, such as hallway medicine, with physicians’ thoughts about how they wish their career could actually be. One reads “Worked 12hr shifts for the last 7 days|Wishes she could spend more time with patients,” while another reads “Performed 3 back-to-back surgeries yesterday|Feels like he can’t keep up with the demand.” All of the ads feature the super: “Burnout shouldn’t be your baseline.”

“We are proud to help mitigate some of the stressful realities of the administrative burden in medicine, but we know that’s only one piece of the puzzle,” said Sarah Wilkinson, CEO Dr.Bill, in a release. “We’re committed to bringing about systemic change, shifting the conversation from what’s happened to how we are going to enable real solutions.”

And we quote: “This has been an incredibly challenging time in healthcare, and Dr.Bill believes it’s time to create a healthier system for everyone. The goal is to raise awareness of physician burnout and demonstrate Dr.Bill’s position as an advocate and partner to physicians.” — Jason Magennis, director of marketing, Dr. Bill

Chris Powell