How Hospitals are Failing to Help with Physician Burnout

How Hospitals are Failing to Help with Physician Burnout

How Hospitals are Failing to Help with Physician Burnout

Physician burnout became a widespread occurrence during the COVID-19 outbreak. But while the pandemic is no longer the threat it was, burnout continues to be a problem for physicians and health providers.

To prove the point, data from a nationwide survey of physicians confirm that burnout rates among doctors in the United States, which were already high a decade ago, have risen to alarming levels.

Results released late last year and published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings showed that 63% of physicians surveyed reported at least one symptom of burnout – an increase from 44% in 2017 and 46% in 2011. Only 30% felt satisfied with their work-life balance, compared with Results released late last year 

Burnout among physicians has been linked to higher rates of alcohol abuse, and suicide as well as increased medical errors leading to compromised patient outcomes.

Most Hospitals Not Addressing the Problem

While physician burnout and other forms of occupational distress are long-standing problems (exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic), most hospitals and federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) have not made this a strategic priority.

Reducing burnout is important to ensure high-quality patient care and a sustainable health system. But according to an AMA survey, only 10% of hospitals and 5% of FQHCs reported having an established senior leadership position responsible for assessing and promoting well-being at the organizational level. Meanwhile, about 29% of FQHCs and 38% of hospitals reported having established a well-being committee.

Addressing the Problem

Acknowledging and addressing the burnout problem will require key stakeholders to step up and do their part. According to an article in the New England Journal of Medicine written by Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy, M.D., there are hopeful signs that change is coming.

At the federal level, the Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act of 2022 and billions of dollars in funding from the 2021 American Rescue Plan will provide new infrastructure and resources to strengthen programs affecting health worker well-being.

These resources are supporting increased mental health services, health workforce expansion, loan-forgiveness programs for health professionals, more robust public health infrastructure, and well-being education programs for health workers. President Biden has also called for billions of dollars in additional funding to sustain these investments.

AMA Stepping Up

The American Medical Association is also addressing the burnout problem in today’s healthcare system. Their Road Map for Joy  in Medicine provides hospitals and healthcare organizations with a framework to guide their efforts to address burnout. Its intended for health systems with more than 100 physicians and/or advanced practice providers (APPs).

The program is designed to help raise awareness, advance knowledge and catalyze change to reduce burnout and promote joy, meaning and purpose for doctors in physician practices and health systems.

Its stated goals are to provide a roadmap for health system leaders interested in implementing programs and policies that actively support well-being, uniting the healthcare community in building a culture committed to increasing joy in medicine, and enhancing awareness for solutions to reduce physician burnout.

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