Physician well being and engagement are crucial for quality of care, patient safety and satisfaction and many more valuable clinical and ethical outcomes. Organizations may pay a heavy price for physician burnout. As the AMA STEPS Forward™ website puts it, “The costs of burnout are widely under-recognized. Health professional burnout poses a significant threat to the clinical, financial and reputational success of an institution.”
Luckily, STEPS Forward continues, “burnout can be prevented with intentional organizational initiatives. The return on investment for organizations that address burnout can be substantial.”
But in an age where payment models for medical services are in flux and many healthcare organizations operate on very narrow margins, the cost of solutions to boost physician well being is every bit as significant an issue as burnout itself.
JAMA Internal Medicine covered this topic in their 2017 “The Business Case for Investing in Physician Well Being,” stating “The business case to address physician burnout,” the authors write, “is multifaceted and includes costs associated with turnover and lost revenue associated with decreased productivity, as well as financial risk and threats to the organization’s long-term viability due to the relationship between burnout and lower quality of care, decreased patient satisfaction and problems with patient safety.”
Of course, the benefits - to patients, to the organization’s reputation and to the bottom line - of promoting physician well being and resilience go beyond preventing burnout. They include greater physician engagement, too - and have multiple benefits, as Becker’s Hospital Review noted in its review of the 2015 Advisory Board Annual Health Care CEO Survey.
“Establishing a highly engaged physician population,” Becker’s notes, “allows hospitals to more effectively target the quality and efficiency issues that may help reduce complications, mortality, readmissions and length of stay. It allows the whole hospital business to come together as a team and tackle inefficiencies while addressing the needs of the community and making the patient experience more satisfactory.”2
To help estimate the contributions multiple aspects of physician well being make to your organization’s ROI, check out our ROI Calculator here.
In addition, many possible solutions come with modest costs, say the authors of “Reframing Physician Wellness,” a 2017 report from Stanford Hospital and Clinics Risk Consulting. These “low-hanging fruit” can include:
- expanding and improving the visibility and use of current well being programs
- peer mentoring and mutual support programs
- partnerships with local gyms, with employee discounts
- encouraging full use of PTO
It’s plainly worthwhile to consider how much an investment can do against what’s rapidly becoming an epidemic of burnout in the medical space.
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“The Business Case for Investing in Physician Well Being,” JAMA Internal Medicine, September 25, 2017. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/article-abstract/2653912?redirect=true
Becker’s Hospital Review noted in its review of the 2015 Advisory Board Annual Health Care CEO Survey https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/hospital-physician-relationships/ceo-survey-physician-engagement-ranked-greatest-opportunity-for-performance-improvement.html
“Reframing Physician Wellness,” Stanford Clinics and Risk Consulting http://2lqlcl3xk1mm2ddadq3qg9bx.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/whitepapers/tra_physician_wellness_whitepaper.pdf