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Tackling Physician Burnout

September 5, 2018

As a follow up to our prior blog, Ensuring Your Physicians Don’t Sink to Burnout, what can be done in your organization to lessen it? Surely with research showing burnout has already affected more than half of US physicians, your organization is undoubtedly affected in some capacity.

The answer to those of us that have been in healthcare research a while is simple. Listen.

Communication is key in any healthy relationship. Workplace communication is especially important in healthcare, and it is no different with the providers that work with you. Physician burnout in your organization can be counteracted by listening to your providers, and then formulating action plans to make changes.

So then, how do you listen to all of your physicians? Scheduling meetings with referring physicians has its own challenges, and group or individual meetings can be both time consuming and ineffective if the conversations are unfocused. Conducting a regular physician engagement survey could be the best way to get to know what your physicians are thinking, and to prioritize the topics and specific physician-audiences needing your attention.

In an August 2018 article (Work Life Balance, Burnout, and the Electronic Health Record) published in the American Journal of Medicine, the article’s authors, physician researchers at the University of California, Riverside School of Medicine, mentioned that physician burnout is not caused by depressed physicians or complaints of work-life balance, rather they state physicians aren’t as happy at work.

The article goes on to point out that there were at least five transformational medical practice events that occurred from 2011 to 2014. Those include pervasive hospital purchases of medical groups, rising drug prices, the Affordable Care Act, pay for performance, and mandated electronic health records (EHRs). Of the five events, the first four were believed to be unlikely culprits. The author’s focus turned to mandated electronic health records but noted that further investigation should be sought.

We agree, as our experience in measuring Physician Engagement over the past 30+ years has shown that getting to the root cause of any issue an organization is facing is typically unique to each and every organization. Finding out what is most important to physicians restoring the meaningful careers they once enjoyed is critical.

Professional Research Consultants helps healthcare organizations monitor physician engagement and alignment and can help your organization get a pulse on your physicians before burnout happens. PRC can help transform insights into action plans designed to improve physician relationships, encourage engagement, and reach organizational goals.


Further reading and sources:

Alexander, M.D., Andrew George, and Ballou, M.D., Kenneth Alan. Work-Life Balance, Burnout, and the Electronic Health Record. The American journal of Medicine.2018; 131; 8; 857-858