Resources and organizations for addressing clinician burnout 

As the crisis becomes grave, more entities are aiming to get information into the public’s hands and offer potential solutions.

This article is part of the February 2023 COVERstory.

A number of healthcare organizations and federal agencies have been tracking the pernicious effects of clinician burnout for years. As the crisis has deepened, several are looking to move from merely reporting data on the crisis to offering concrete action plans for addressing it. 

Several of these organizations and their recent initiatives can be found below. 

The American Medical Association has been tracking the devastating effects of burnout on the nation’s physicians for more than a decade. In addition to surveying its members, the AMA provides a section on its web site here about physician burnout. In addition, the AMA is touting what it calls its Recovery Plan for America’s Physicians – it’s looking to address prior authorization, Medicare payments, scope creep and support for telehealth in addition to physician burnout. Information on its recovery plan can be found here

The American Medical Informatics Association is taking on a lead role in reducing the documentation load that clinicians face. Its 25x5 initiative seeks to reduce the documentation burden 25 percent from current-state levels in five years (by 2025). More information on the effort, including links to information and for participation in the effort, can be found here. A 25x5 Symposium was conducted over six weeks in 2021, and many of the seminal sessions that ungird the initiative can be found here. AMIA also regularly covers burnout and its causes in its journal, such as this article in JAMIA. 

The American Nurses Association has efforts underway to highlight and address areas of stress for the nation’s nurses. It is promoting Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation (HNHN), a social movement designed to “transform the health of the nation by improving the health of the nation's 4 million registered nurses.”This initiative is open to everyone; more information can be found here

KLAS Research, through its Arch Collaborative, has sharpened its focus on studying clinician burnout over the last five years. The research organization provides reports on clinician burnout. Its most recent report on Provider Burnout and the EHR Experience can be found here. KLAS also has researched nurse burnout, and one recent report can be found here. Finally, a report on understanding burnout, its causes and implications, can be found here (full dataset requires registration). 

The National Burden Reduction Collaborative is recently formed and early in its work to coalesce efforts across industry organizations to reduce documentation and other burdens on clinicians. The group’s members are working on a game plan to address key issues that add to clinician burden, hoping to bring action through concrete steps on topics that have been discussed by members for years. AMIA is playing a key role in the NBRC; Howard Landa, MD, chairman of the Association of Medical Directors of Information Systems (AMDIS), is leading NBRC. More information about the effort can be found here. More initial information about it can be found in Landa’s post here

The Medical Group Management Association has covered regularly burnout issues in its research. The organization offers potential solutions and discussions on its website

Stanford Medicine has an active program to ensure the well-being of its professional community. Information on its efforts can be found here. The organization also has worked with the California Medical Association on a project to reduce physician burnout statewide; information on that initiative can be found here. Efforts are being led by Tait Shanafelt, MD, director of the Stanford WellMD Center and chief wellness officer for Stanford Medicine. 

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has created an Office of Burden Reduction & Health Informatics, which has a focus on reducing administrative burden and advancing interoperability and national standards. A key initiative is improving the prior authorization process, as well as standardizing how attachments and electronic signatures are used across the industry. It provides a newsletter, subscriptions for which can be made here

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology also has been active in some burden initiatives, including efforts to improve prior authorization and to transition to actionable steps the strategy of the Department of Health and Human Services to reduce the regulatory and administrative burden of health IT. ONC’s efforts were detailed in a recent blog post

The U.S. Surgeon General addresses clinician burnout in its most recent report, available here, and with several resources, available here

Medscape provides coverage and scholarly studies of clinician burnout and depression. Its latest report from survey results, entitled, “I Cry but No One Cares,” can be found here. Its 2023 Medscape Physician Burnout & Depression Report was completed by 9,175 U.S. physicians representing more than 29 specialty areas. 

Mayo Clinic Proceedings in December 2022 published the latest results from its survey of work-life integration. The full text of the study, which can be found here, also provides links in its reference section to a variety of reports on clinician stress associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) has done work on electronic health record-related burnout and provided other information on the subject. In addition, grantees have studied the problem and suggested potential direction. 

The National Academy of Medicine in 2017 launched the Action Collaborative on Clinician Well-Being and Resilience, a network of more than 200 organizations committed to reversing trends in clinician burnout. It has three goals – raising the visibility of the problem, improving understanding of challenges to clinician well-being and advancing evidence-based, multidisciplinary solutions to enable “caring for the caregiver.” 

Practicing Excellence is an organization that seeks to build skills to “drive outcomes in well-being, patient experience and leadership effectiveness.” It also offers services to address physician experience and on mitigating burnout risk factors.

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