Lehigh County Health & Medicine Fall 2019 - 9

L C M E D S O C .O R G

c

onsiderable attention has been circu- the problem falls, therefore, both on called the Well-Being Index) to monitor
lating around the topic of physician organizations and individuals.
the wellness of doctors and other caregivers.
burnout, for good reason. Like a
By having physicians answer key questions
bank account that contains energy Taking a leap of faith
and recording the results, leaders and others
instead of money, burnout is when your
The substance of the solution to health can identify departments, specialties, and
energy account is depleted, but you keep care burnout is to create an environment population groups who may be, or are, at
spending. Almost half of the physicians where doctors and other caregivers are risk for burnout. This makes leadership
in the United States have reported feeling professionally fulfilled. This becomes a aware and accountable in exploring cohorts
burned out, defined by three key symptoms: complex undertaking in many health with high burnout or "distress' scores.
exhaustion, depersonalization, and lack of systems, since they are increasingly under Without data and measuring distress it
efficacy. Hospitals and health systems have pressure to operate like businesses with becomes difficult to create strategies and
just started to see the adverse effects this can financial constraints and revenue goals. solutions to optimize wellness. The data
have on patient care and satisfaction, from Supporting physician wellness is difficult to also makes it possible to determine and
reductions in quality and productivity to a truly quantify. That's why solutions need to measure the financial effects of burnout on
decline in overall morale of the organization. begin off paper: Leaders have to believe that the organization based on its influence on
the well-being of caregivers really matters attrition, lost productivity, and reimbursable
A multi-faceted problem
and makes a difference in the quality of elements of quality and patient experience,
Through studies and surveys, researchers the health care being delivered. They must among others.
have traced the architecture of this fairly recognize there is a return on investment,
new form of physical and moral exhaustion and believe if they can optimize their staff
ONCE HEALTH SYSTEMS HAVE
to varying aspects of patient care and well-being, it will have a positive effect on
ACCESS TO DATA, THEY ARE
practice administration. Some areas of the environment and the overall culture, as
STRATEGIZING PATHS FORWARD:
origin include:
well as the bottom line.
* Growth of networks and changes
in practice dynamics which have
led to geographic isolation of
physicians
* Regulatory reimbursement issues
and growing administrative burden
* Little one-to-one communication
with peers; reliance on texting
and email
* Practice structures providing
caregivers with less autonomy in
managing patients and practices
* Suboptimal compensation models
Data indicates that, to a great extent, the
problem is operational and organizational
as opposed to originating from personal
issues. As expectations and demands
become too high and caregivers' sense of
control is diminished, burnout is inevitable.
Plus, requirements relating to financial
challenges, meaningful use, quality expectations, maintenance of certification,
and other administrative activities are
intensifying. The responsibility to manage

Several large, academic health centers,
such as Stanford Health Care and Mayo
Clinic, were able to take this view of the
problem and have invested in caregiver
wellness. Consequently, they are farther
along in solving it and have been able
to create an approach that comes at the
problem from numerous angles that are
now being implemented at many health
systems. It's about optimizing efficiency in
practice with a focus on workplace systems,
processes, and practices. It is finding and
implementing those ideas that promote
quality, effectiveness, and positive patient
and colleague experiences with a goal of
bettering work-life balance. The essence
of the goal is to allow caregivers the most
time actually communicating with, and
caring for, patients. When they are not
doing this it is about finding time to be
professionally or personally satisfied and
achieve balance in life.
How health systems are getting started
Since burnout has emerged, many hospitals are unaware of how extensive the
problem is within their own organization.
Some have followed the Mayo Clinic's
lead and incorporated a survey, (Mayo's is

* Appointing a chief wellness officer to
champion physicians and advocate for
efforts under consideration

* Reassessing physical spaces and processes
in offices and units are structured for
patient care and also caregiver efficiency
* Making electronic medical records
systems more usable, by offering
training programs and offering point
of care assistance.
* Experimenting with, and using, scribes
to assist with record keeping; this might
include virtual scribes, which entails a
medical professional listening to the
physician-patient conversation and then
interpreting and transcribing notes
* Assuring that all caregivers and administrative staff are working efficiently and
at the top of their licenses to promote
satisfaction and team-based care (this can
involve creating systems that let team
members take on roles that alleviate the
physician's administrative load)

Continued on page 10
FALL 2019 | Lehigh County Health & Medicine 9


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