Clinicians need support, better tools to manage job burdens

Physicians find little joy in their profession, and senior execs must reverse that trend, Liz Boehm says.

In too many hospitals and practices, the joy of nurses and physicians practicing medicine is dropping, and the implementation of information technology has done little to stem the tide.

A survey of physicians a couple years ago found widespread belief of loss of control in practicing medicine, with 90 percent of clinicians saying they would not recommend that their children pursue medicine as a career, according to Liz Boehm, research director at Experience Innovation Network, which includes 35 health systems in the United States and Canada that are cooperating to practice respectful care and improve care transformation.

There is a growing crisis among clinicians, Boehm told attendees at Health Data Management’s Most Powerful Women in Healthcare IT Conference in Boston.

Various surveys find many nurses and physicians have high rates of sleeplessness, and about one in four are depressed. The bottom line is that the clinicians are burned out, and health system leaders need to start focusing on their well-being, Boehm contends.

Also See: Atrius Health looks to analytics to reduce physician burnout

About 70 percent of clinicians are struggling because they do not have enough resources to do their job the way they want to, she added. Consequences include a high turnover rate among clinicians, and few health systems leaders understand how that financially affects a practice—not realizing that it can cost as much as $1 million in total costs to replace a doctor.

Clinicians are so burned out that they are losing the empathy that providers have always had for their patients, Boehm said. She recalls one physician walking in an exam room and greeting the patient by saying, “Is this my 3 p.m. pelvis?”

Some hospitals have taken action to reduce clinician burnout. Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, for instance, cut down on all the various challenges that can burn people out, and now three core leaders approve initiatives and take responsibility for keeping work responsibilities manageable. “Leadership needs to acknowledge its responsibility for not increasing pressures and burnout,” Boehm said.

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