Build a Culture of Physician Well Being to Fight Burnout

When a physician is experiencing burnout, he or she can become a liability for the healthcare organization as well as an impaired provider of care for their patients. Burned-out physicians may behave capriciously and make medical errors impacting the operation and bottom line of the healthcare organization. When the quality of care suffers because of physician burnout, patient satisfaction falls off and the risk of malpractice litigation, along with its unpredictable costs, goes up.

Physician burnout is a major driver of turnover in healthcare organizations, with its staggering price tag—estimated, in one California healthcare system, to be between $268,000 and $957,000 per physician (and between $15,544,000 and $55,506,000 in a two-year period).

The End of the “Iron Doc” Idea

The old “iron doc” paradigm placed all the onus on the physician, demanding he or she suffer in silence, tough it out and win out over physician burnout. But today we have come to understand burnout is an institutional issue. What are the implications of physician burnout? The solution to burnout is to create a holistic culture of support for physicians as they meet the many and escalating demands of today’s medical workplace. Promoting well being means paying attention to a host of issues, which include but are not limited to:

  • providing psychological support and coaching
  • improving workflow
  • building trust and communication between physicians and leadership
  • including physicians in organizational decision-making and more

These solutions can be very effective with surprisingly reasonable amounts of healthcare organization investment. Download our article “The High Cost of Physician Burnout in Healthcare Organizations” in order to learn more about this important issue and how it may be affecting your bottom line—and how one healthcare system is turning the tide on burnout by addressing its causes systematically and holistically.