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Barriers in Healthcare on Addressing Provider Burnout

Group 1: Hunter McCoy, Chadrick Fisher, Breanna Welch, James Nguyen, Emily McCormick

HSMT 4400 Health System Management Capstone

Tara Fardella

March 20th, 2019


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Executive Summary

A growing epidemic within the healthcare field that administrators are worried about in
the long run is physician burnout. Reason, why this is a growing epidemic, is that in every three
physicians one of them is experiencing burnout, and that physician’s mental health is being
affected causes suicide. Suicide rates are higher in physician than the actual general public. With
that being said this epidemic of mental health affects the health organization. There are barriers
that will help the healthcare system address physician burnout and these barriers are
Communication, High demand for providers, and lack of resources. Communication is important
in the most field of work, having a good foundation of communication skills will lead to a
tremendous benefit to everyday work and life experience. Within the medical field
communication skills are vital to communicating not with just patients but with staff to create a
fluid workspace. With burnout being a problem improving communication shows it can be
valuable are to improve on. The next barrier the healthcare system is the high demand for
providers where the problem is with overworked employees, where scheduling has to be
organized, thoughtful, and delegated towards the staff to prevent employees from being
overworked. The last barrier that needs to be addressed to prevent physician burnout is lack of
funding and resources. In physician burnout, some healthcare organizations cannot afford to
implement ways to eliminate the burnout, on top that the organizations can’t afford to lose their
physicians either. To address these barriers will lead to less physician burnout and give the staff
of these organizations a healthy and fluid environment to work in.
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Physician Burnout is a growing epidemic that administrators are starting to worry about.

Physician One in every three physicians is experiencing burnout. Suicide rates for both men and

women are higher in physicians than the general population and this information is highly

underreported (AAFP, 2019). Healthcare professionals are starting to realize the negative

implications and the domino effect it can have on a health organization. It is important to take

into consideration the wellbeing of the professionals that work in the healthcare field. The patient

is the priority and provider burnout have an impact on the outcome of that patient. Unfortunately,

the current health systems cannot address provider burnouts. Their tactics are ineffective, and it

does not directly influence the problem. The three barriers that prevent healthcare organizations

from addressing provider burnout is communication, High demand for providers, and lack of

resources. Addressing these issues with help with this epidemic of provider burnout and lead us

into the future of better healthcare (Lyndon, 2016).

In most fields of work, improved communication skills can have a tremendous benefit to

your everyday work experience, in the medical field communication skills are especially vital for

physicians. In order for the healthcare system to work as more of a system than it currently is,

improvement in communication skills is a must. According to HealthDay News, improvement in

communication between patients and physicians could reduce physician burnout and improve

patient care (Endocrinology Advisor, 2017). Improved communication in physicians is also

thought to improve physician satisfaction and reduce the risk of medical error, which is a

win-win for healthcare administrators searching for a solution to the rising problem of physician

burnout (Endocrinology Advisor, 2017).


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With burnout being the problem of focus, improved communication shows great promise

as a solution to burnout, with the added benefit of improved care and fewer medical errors. In

order to educate physicians about improved communication, it is necessary to have a technique

to implement for them to follow to ensure a more successful implementation. The ICARE

method is one that physicians can use each time they have contact with a patient, in a simple

acronym that is easy to remember. The ICARE method could prove to be a highly effective

technique at improving physicians work experience, as well as improving patient care.

(Endocrinology Advisor, 2017).

Healthcare is one of the most demanding jobs in the workforce today. The number of

long hours, overnight shifts, continuing education, is stacked up against millions of healthcare

providers around the world. Healthcare is a selfless service, your sole job is to treat and take care

of people suffering from injury, sickness, and any other form of suffering. Every day, thousands

of people are rushing to emergency rooms, getting admitted into hospitals, and making

appointments with their doctors, and there is no indication of this slowing down. This puts a toll

on the healthcare community with much of their time being devoted to their work. This,

unfortunately, comes with long hours and late nights for employees. These grueling hours cause

thousands of cases of burnout every day.

The constant demand for healthcare employees has created a barrier for the way the

healthcare system can treat burnout for its employees. A study in the Archives of Internal

Medicine surveyed more than 7,200 U.S. physicians and found that about half had reported at

least one symptom of burnout, this is substantial versus all other U.S. worker in other fields

(Krisberg, 2018). This high demand for these employees comes with some consequences.
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Medical errors, turnover, patient re-visits, high expenditure, and health-care facility related

illnesses are all symptoms of a healthcare setting that has employees overworked, without a fresh

cycle of doctors, nurses, and other employees to relieve those in need. This problem is consistent

with many healthcare facilities, and a solution is not that simple.

A healthcare entity can’t simply allow all of its employees to have vacation time

year-round or encourage people to exercise on their breaks to comply with their stress. The

problem with overworked employees starts at a facility’s roots. Scheduling must be organized,

thoughtful, and delegated. Employee atmosphere and culture must be pushed towards a direction

behind healthcare’s main goal: helping people, and that includes the employees. Teamwork and

community like approaches allow the stress to be spread amongst the team, rather than certain

individuals. Communication is important, in a team it’s crucial that everyone understands each

other's role, this allows employees to have insight on how their actions affect the rest of their

team. With awareness and care floating around the employees, being overworked and stressed

will massively reduce within a healthcare entity (Berg, 2018).

When addressing any problem within the healthcare field, there is usually a lack of

funding and/or resources contributing to the issue. This is especially true when discussing

physician burnout, Certain healthcare organizations, cannot afford to implement and obtain the

necessary precautions and resources to reduce and eventually eliminate physician burnout.

However, the organizations cannot afford to lose physicians either. Sara Berg, from the

American Medical Association, states that it can cost an organization anywhere from $500,000

to $1 million per physician lost (Berg, 2018).


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There are two areas of uncertainty when it comes to decision makers within organizations

about physician burnout. These are, the lack of awareness regarding the economic costs of

burnout and uncertainty if anything can be done. “In a time of limited resources and competing

priorities, what’s the business case to address this issue? This is a national epidemic, what can

we do about it?” (Shanafelt, Goh, & Sinsky, 2017) The leaders of organizations are looking at

the specific amount of money that they can contribute and thinking that it would not make a

difference with only that amount, so therefore, they should just ignore it. Within this topic, there

is also the issue of the cost associated with decreased productivity and high turnover rates. If we

see this problem addressed within these organizations, they could in the end gain the money back

that they used due to lower turnover rates and increased productivity. Despite, the high rates of

physician burnout within healthcare organizations, they have not taken action because, to them,

the cost outweighs the risk. However, “Addressing this issue is not only the organization’s

ethical responsibility, it is also the fiscally responsible one.” (Shanafelt, Goh, & Sinsky, 2017)

Addressing resources, communication, and workload will help an organization

effectively deal with provider burnout. The action is an important step into addressing the

barriers of fixing provider burnout. Having a healthy environment of communication where a

provider can express their frustrations and have those frustrations addressed is vital. Addressing

the workload providers have by taking action to reduce the workload is effective. Lastly finding

the extra funds in the budget to take care of employees professorially and emotionally is a good

way to effectively implement change in provider burnout. With the collective effort of health

administrators, healthcare providers, and employees of health organizations the rate of provider

burnout with decrease.


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Works Cited

American Academy of Family Physicians. (2019). ​Family Physician Burnout, Well-Being, and

Professional Satisfaction (Position Paper. ​Retrieved from

https://www.aafp.org/about/policies/all/physician-burnout.html

Becker’s Hospital Review. (2017). ​Hospitals are getting physician burnout and engagement all

wrong — Here's why.​ Beckers Healthcare. Retrieved from

https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/hospital-physician-relationships/hospitals-are-getting-bu

rnout-and-physician-engagement-all-wrong-here-s-why.html

Berg, Sara. (2018).​ How Much Physician Burnout is Costing Your Organization.​ American

Medical Association. Retrieved from

https://www.ama-assn.org/practice-management/economics/how-much-physician-burnout-costin

g-your-organization

Endocrinology Advisor. (2017). ​Reducing Physician Burnout By Improving Communication

​ aymarket Media. Retrieved from


Skills. H
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https://www.endocrinologyadvisor.com/home/topics/practice-management/reducing-physician-b

urnout-by-improving-communication-skills/

Krisberg, Kim. (2018). ​Concerns grow about burnout, stress in health care workers: New

​ he Nation's Health​. R
demands adding to burden. T ​ etrieved from

http://thenationshealth.aphapublications.org/content/48/8/1.3

Lyndon, Audrey. (2016). ​Burnout Among Health Professionals and Its Effect on Patient Safety.

PSNet​. ​Retrieved from

https://psnet.ahrq.gov/perspectives/perspective/190/burnout-among-health-professionals-and-its-

effect-on-patient-safety

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1365-2648.2007.04370.x

Shanafelt, Tait, MD. Goh, Joel, PhD. Sinsky, Christine, MD. (2017). ​The Business Case for

Investing in Physician Well-Being. J​ AMA Internal Medicine. Retrieved from

https://medschool.ucsd.edu/som/hear/resources/Documents/jamainternal_Shanafelt_2017_sc_17

0009.pdf
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