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March 30, 2017

How these top health care CEOs want to fight physician burnout

Daily Briefing

A group of leaders from 10 prominent health systems and the American Medical Association (AMA) published an article in Health Affairs Blog calling physician burnout a public health crisis—and suggesting 11 ways to fix the issue.

The co-authors of the article include:

  • American Medical Association CEO James Madara;
  • Atrius Health CEO Steven Strongwater;
  • Cleveland Clinic CEO Toby Cosgrove;
  • Duke University Hospital President Keven Sowers;
  • Johns Hopkins Medicine CEO Paul Rothman;
  • Mayo Clinic CEO John Noseworthy;
  • Northwestern Memorial HealthCare CEO Dean Harrison;
  • Partners HealthCare CEO David Torchiana;
  • Southern California Permanente Medical Group's Executive Medical Director and Board Chair Ed Ellison;
  • Sutter Health CEO Sarah Krevans; and
  • Vanderbilt University Hospitals and Clinics CEO Mitchell Edgeworth.

For burned-out physicians, medicine no longer feels like a 'calling,' study finds

Burnout is a serious threat to the health care system, and senior leaders have a responsibility to respond to it, the authors write. To that end, the blog authors met at AMA's headquarters last year, where they reviewed data, shared experiences, and concluded that "leaders of health care delivery organizations must embrace physician well-being as a critical factor in the long-term clinical and financial success of our organizations."

Commitment to improvement

During their meeting at AMA's headquarters last year, the authors committed to 11 practices and interventions to address the issue, and called on other health care leaders to do the same. Those practices are: 

  • Better understanding and addressing the clerical burden and "inappropriate allocation of work to physicians that is contributing to professional burnout";

  • Collaborating with AMA and other groups to align technology and policy with team-based care to reduce the burden of EHRs;

  • Collaborating with AMA and other groups to develop initiatives that share best practices and case studies related to burnout;

  • Educating fellow CEOs and other stakeholders about the importance of physician well-being;

  • Emphasizing the importance of leadership development for physicians and managers of physicians throughout the organization;

  • Encouraging policymakers and regulators to reduce regulatory burdens linked to burnout;

  • Including measures of well-being in performance dashboards, when possible;

  • Regularly measuring the well-being of their physician workforce using standardized measures;

  • Supporting and leveraging organization research to identify effective interventions that support physician and other providers' well-being;

  • Supporting team-based care models that fully leverage the unique value of physicians; and

  • Tracking the costs of physician turnover, early retirement, and reductions in clinical effort (Noseworthy et al., Health Affairs Blog, 3/28; Rosin, Becker's Hospital Review, 3/28; Sternberg, U.S. News & World Report, 3/28). 

Learn the next steps to combat physician burnout

Today, over half of all physicians report feeling one or more symptoms of burnout. How does physician burnout manifest, and what are the consequences for your organization?

Join us to find out what burnout is, what's causing it, and strategies to combat burnout and restore joy in the practice of medicine.

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