Physician burnout has become an increasingly serious issue over the past decade with significant consequences for both physicians and patients. In his talk at the LUGPA annual meeting in Chicago, Paul DeChant, MD, MBA, told attendees that the way to address this problem is to return joy to patient care by creating a positive environment where physicians can again focus on their patients.
“Initial efforts towards preventing and resolving physician burnout centered around helping physicians to be more resilient in the face of all of the challenges coming at them, but that does not address the root cause of the burnout. Instead, it leaves physicians in a work environment where it is difficult to be successful and in a chronic situation that does not give them a chance to recover,” said Dr. DeChant, of IBM Watson Health and a professional with 25 years of clinical experience as a family physician and 30 years of experience managing medical groups.
“The answer is to remove the barriers and frustrations that are causing burnout so that physicians can focus on their role as care providers.”
The approach involves creating management systems and management processes that ensure physicians have all of the resources they need to promote their healing interactions with patients. And its success depends on active physician participation.
“This is not work that can be done by someone from the outside who is a so-called ‘expert’ or by managers and administrators. Leadership support is definitely needed, but while physicians may feel they do not have time to get involved in improvement activities, they must become engaged. If they don’t, they risk redesigns that fail to address the challenges they face, which then fail to meet their needs,” Dr. DeChant said.