All 10 health system executives who gathered for an American Medical Association summit on physician burnout last fall already recognized that the problem was taking a toll on their organizations. By the time they left the meeting, they had identified physician burnout to be a national public health crisis and agreed to take ownership of the problem.
“Leadership is needed to address the root causes of this problem and reposition the health care workforce for the future,” the CEOs wrote in a Health Affairs blog post.
The CEOs represented Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic, Vanderbilt University Medical Center Hospital & Clinics, Kaiser Permanente, Sutter Health, Johns Hopkins Medicine, Duke Health, Atrius Health, Partners HealthCare and Northwestern Memorial HealthCare.
“We candidly acknowledge that we don’t have all the answers, or know for certain what the most impactful interventions are, but we are beginning to learn, and progress is being made in some areas,” they wrote.
To that end, they committed to 11 actions:
- Regularly measure the well-being of physicians at their institutions using a standardized instrument.
- Include measures of physician well-being in their institutional performance dashboards.
- Track the institutional costs of physician turnover, early retirement and reductions in clinical effort.
- Emphasize the importance of leadership skill development for physicians and their managers.
- Address the clerical burden and inappropriate allocation of work to physicians, acknowledging its contribution to professional burnout.
- Support team-based models of care.
- Encourage government regulators to address the burden of unnecessary and/or redundant regulations.
- Support the AMA and other national organizations to push regulators and technology vendors to reduce the burden of electronic health record systems on all users.
- Share anti-burnout best practices.
- Educate CEOs and other stakeholders about the importance of reducing burnout among physicians and other health care professionals.
- Conduct research to determine the most effective policies and interventions to improve the well-being of the health care workforce.
Other national efforts are also taking place. For one, the National Academy of Medicine launched an “action collaborative” in December to promote clinician well-being and resilience. More than 35 professional organizations, including the American Hospital Association, health systems and payers have signed on as sponsors.
In addition, this summer, the AHA joined with the AMA, the American Nurses Association, the Association of American Medical Colleges, the Mayo Clinic and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality to develop a discussion paper on burnout among health care professionals.