Blog Post

Physician Burnout as a Platform for Change

Physician Burnout 650 X380 Web

The number of physicians who report experiencing symptoms of burnout is at an all-time high, leading to an increase in medical errors, decreased access for patients, poor quality outcomes, and an overall diminishing morale in clinical care teams. Physicians cite clerical burdens, increasing documentation/reporting requirements, and an overall increase in responsibilities as the primary drivers for burnout.

It is imperative for organizations to adopt progressive, more effective operations and refined technology, as these elements are key in addressing physician burnout. More importantly, it is essential that physicians are at the heart of these initiatives, providing guidance and leadership to develop solutions that truly address their needs.

But how can organizations engage physicians to lead and participate in these improvement initiatives when they’re already suffering from burnout?

Learn how Adventist Health System used
Technology as a Springboard for Organizational Change.

Embed Physician Well-Being into Workflow Standardization and Technology Optimization

Organizations should start by evaluating opportunities to embed physician well-being improvement priorities into work flow standardization or technology optimization projects. Once these priorities and their relationship to the project at hand have been identified, they need to be formalized and clearly communicated as project objectives to attract physicians based on trust that it’s worth their while to participate. Physicians participating in the project will be representing their peers, so it is important that those physicians understand how the objectives can alleviate burnout and can champion these changes to fellow physicians.

Examples of tactics that can be embedded in work flow standardization and technology optimization projects to combat physician burnout are listed below.

Workflow StandardizationTechnology Optimization
  • Maximize the use of clinical support staff to address tasks within their scope of licensure.
  • Establish benchmarks that can help identify providers who are at risk for burnout based on excessive/ineffective EHR use.
  • Design workflows to deliver pertinent clinical data on demand.
  • Automate clinical documentation by using digital device integration and “smart logic” to populate necessary fields.
  • Route lab results, refill requests, patient messages, and alerts to clinical support staff first; determine which tasks require physician intervention.
  • Remove irrelevant content from physicians’ EHR profiles to streamline navigation.
  • Use clinical support staff to prepopulate a patient’s note prior to the physician’s interaction.

Ensure the Changes “Stick”

After the project, the changes need to “stick” in order for physicians to experience the benefits. Therefore, it is important to find ways to measure the impact of/adherence to the changes and communicate the results to physician stakeholders. This will not only demonstrate the value of the initial project but also establish optimism for future change efforts.

Convincing physicians to invest additional time in projects outside of their day-to-day responsibilities is not an easy undertaking. But the return on that investment in physician-led workflow and technology optimization initiatives will be realized as physicians find more rewarding and sustainable ways to practice medicine.

Learn how Adventist Health System worked with their physicians to drive organizational change.

See the Multimedia Case Study