|November 12, 2019
New NAM Report Reinforces AMA Work on Physician Burnout and Burden Reduction
The National Academies of Medicine released a new report titled "Taking Action on Clinician Burnout" which highlights six goals/recommendations that the AMA is currently moving the needle on.
- Create positive work environments. Health care executives should commit to, and be accountable for, creating a work environment that promotes high-quality care, job satisfaction and social support. Health care organizations should create and maintain an executive leadership role dedicated to clinician well-being. Health care organizations should also assess how business and management decisions — for example, whether to deploy new technologies — may affect clinicians' job demands and levels of burnout, as well as patient care quality and safety. They should continuously monitor and evaluate the extent of burnout in their organization, using validated tools, and report on this at least annually to leaders, managers and clinicians within the organization.
- Address burnout in training and at the early career stage. Clinicians often experience burnout early in their professional career. The report recommends that schools of health professions alleviate major sources of stress by monitoring workload (including preparation for licensure examinations and required training activities), implementing pass-fail grading, improving access to scholarships and affordable loans and building new loan repayment systems.
- Reduce tasks that do not improve patient care. Federal agencies, state legislatures and other standard-setting entities should identify and address the sources of clinician burnout related to laws, regulations and policies, eliminating those that contribute little or no value to patient care. They should specifically evaluate regulations and standards related to payment, health information technology, quality measurement and reporting, and professional and legal requirements for licensure.
- Improve usability and relevance of health IT. Health information technology (IT), including electronic health records, should be as user-friendly and easy to operate as possible to reduce burnout, the report says. Health IT vendors and health care organizations should deploy technologies to reduce documentation demands and automate non-essential tasks. In addition, federal policymakers and private sector health IT companies should collaborate to develop the infrastructure and processes that enable shared decision-making between clinicians and patients.
- Reduce stigma and improve burnout recovery services. Many clinicians do not report burnout because they fear the potential consequences, including loss of licensure. In order to eliminate the stigma of getting help and to promote recovery and well-being, the report recommends that state legislative bodies facilitate access to employee assistance programs, peer support programs, and mental health providers without the information being admissible in malpractice litigation. Applications for medical licensure or renewal should focus only on current impairment due to any health condition, rather than past diagnoses for a mental health condition.
- Create a national research agenda on clinician well-being. By the end of 2020, federal agencies — including the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, the Health Resources and Services Administration and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs — should develop a coordinated research agenda on clinician burnout, says the report. Research priorities should include identifying the drivers of burnout across career and life stages for different types of clinicians; burnout's implications for the workforce as well as patient safety outcomes; and potential systems-level interventions to improve clinician and learner well-being.
To see what resources AMA has on combating physician burnout check out STEPS Forward, Institutional Assessments and EHRSeeWhatWeMean.org.
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