5 Steps to Combat Physician Burnout and Build a Team of Highly Engaged, Top-performing Providers
New Studies Highlight the Escalating Threat from Burnout and Depression
Nearly half of all physicians say they’re burned out, reporting loss of autonomy, lack of work-life balance and increasing regulatory requirements as top reasons.1 A recent report by Medscape showed similar findings. The “National Physician Burnout & Depression Report” found 42% of the 15,000 physicians surveyed reported being burned out. Fifteen percent said they were also clinically depressed or felt “down, blue or sad.”2
When a practice’s physicians are burned out or depressed, it negatively impacts patient engagement, staff engagement and, perhaps most importantly, medical errors.3 Research now shows a direct correlation between physician burnout and mortality rates.4 In addition to patient impact, physician burnout impacts a practice’s bottom line by increasing turnover and rising recruitment costs.
All areas of a practice are susceptible to physician burnout, but the perioperative process is one of the most critical. Having providers who are burned out, unengaged, or depressed in this highly complex environment can lead to devastating consequences, including loss of life.
Practices that do not address this issue put their business at risk for costly lawsuits, increased financial penalties, and lower patient satisfaction scores—not to mention the harm it can have on a practice’s reputation.
The first step in identifying physician burnout is acknowledging it exists. Practices need to look for telltale signs such as increased cynicism, hopelessness, a lack of staff engagement, and decreased empathy for patients. When physicians become unengaged, it quickly spreads negativity throughout the entire care team. Imagine the impact this has on quality of care and the patient experience.
Path to Improvement
Having physicians who are happy in their roles and highly engaged is essential to achieving optimal revenue performance. But identifying whether this is the case can be a challenge for practices that lack the ability to measure costs, efficiencies and outcomes.
One opportunity to reduce physician burnout and its effects is to partner with an anesthesia services group. Companies such as PhyMed Healthcare Group—a winner of Becker’s Healthcare 2018 “150 Top Places to Work in Healthcare” award—work alongside existing perioperative caregivers to help ensure the highest level of patient safety and outcomes. If necessary, practices can choose to replace or augment perioperative providers.
PhyMed has developed five essential guidelines for practices looking to build a team of peak-performing providers. These are proven methods that PhyMed has used to build its own team of top-performing physicians and CRNAs to ensure they are delivering the very best care for the practices they serve.
1. Work/life balance. It’s important that physicians have time to recharge. Make sure your scheduling system accommodates time off, especially after long or stressful surgery days. Better management of staffing can benefit both the practice and the physician.
2. Personal pursuits. When physicians donate their time to community healthcare initiatives, they have an enhanced enthusiasm and sense of purpose when they return. Humanitarian efforts like Doctors Without Borders can be a great opportunity for providers who want to serve beyond the walls of the practice.
3. Leadership. Providers who work together deliver the greatest level of care. Team-building events promote trust and improve communication, which helps build stronger teams and better leadership. As an example, PhyMed recently partnered with the Owen School of Management at Vanderbilt University to create a leadership program for PhyMed physicians. Curriculum includes team culture and building an environment where people love to work.
4. Recruiting and education. To find the best physicians and CRNAs, practices need to go beyond certification and background checks. This can be challenging for smaller practices with fewer recruiting resources. Partnering with a provider services group like PhyMed gives practices access to a network to hundreds of the highest performing anesthesia physicians and CRNAs in the country. Once onboard, new providers should be provided with comprehensive educational resources, along with access to industry leading, senior-level physicians.
5. Surveys. Knowing whether your physicians are feeling burned out or unappreciated, or whether they’re fully engaged with each other and patients, is essential to having a high-performing practice that delivers the best patient care. Conducting surveys on a regular basis gives you the information you need to build a culture where providers perform at their highest level of contribution.
The Road to High Reliability
All practices want to provide the highest quality care and a positive patient experience. Those mostly likely to succeed in this endeavor are those that proactively address physician burnout before it has the chance to cause irreparable harm to patients or the practice. Healthcare management experts such as PhyMed can help practices build a team of highly engaged, top-performing providers. With PhyMed, practices can improve patient satisfaction, enhance their community reputation, gain a competitive advantage, and optimize their bottom line.