The statistics on healthcare provider burnout are not good: more than 50% report feeling burned out; 5-10% of doctors report thoughts of suicide; and realities like HIPAA are just becoming more prominent (and making burnout worse.)
According the American Medical Association (AMA), there are only two things that makes physicians feel satisfied (the opposite of burnt out):
- Enough one-on-one time with patients.
- A sense that you've done a good job.
Any healthcare provider won't be surprised to hear that data shows that things adding to burnout include:
- Chaos and hecticness in the practice.
- Excessive administrative burden.
We've written in the past about unorthodox ways to avoid burnout, the virtues of healthcare collaboration in managing it, and lies not to believe about it. Recently, an additional hypothesis on avoiding burnout emerged. The AMA has developed a set of online, self-guided modules that presume to help doctors lean closer to the things that provide satisfaction and away from the things that don't. The project is estimated to have cost $10-$15 million and been in the works for years. (A great summary of the project and data is here.)
While we're excited that key leaders in the medical community are taking action to ease the burden of burnout on providers, we're also concerned about the intensive level of resource spent on something that doesn't substantively change the way providers are able to do medicine, but rather educate doctors in making small changes.
Is it possible that something more fundamentally altering workflow, collaboration, and the sense of "having done a good job" will be a better investment? Is it possible that doctors are adopting telemedicine practices for exactly that reason?
Either way, we applaud the AMA for their efforts and we appreciate the focus on this important problem. We also encourage providers to continue looking for the foundational shifts that will ultimately bring the satisfaction they crave.