Survey: Health system executives say that improving clinician well-being is ‘critical for organizational success’

The demands of clinicians' jobs, including growing patient volumes and increased regulatory pressures, are creating near-epidemic levels of burnout.

A new, ground-breaking report, "Human Experience at the Forefront: Elevating Resilience, Well-Being, and Joy in Healthcare," released by Vocera Communications' Experience Innovation Network, finds that health systems are struggling to counter that trend: 75 percent of 150 health system/hospital executives interviewed say their organizations are doing a poor or extremely poor job in supporting doctors' and nurses' well-being.

The good news is that more than 90 percent of these respondents see the urgency of addressing this problem, citing the improvement of clinician well-being as "critical for organizational success." In addition, the report shares best practices from health system leaders across the country that are successfully addressing resilience, well-being and joy at every level at their organizations.

The research report was released at the Experience Innovation Network's 11th semi-annual CXO Roundtable that took place in November 2016 in San Francisco. The Experience Innovation Network, part of Vocera, is an international group of industry thought leaders focused on putting the science behind the experience of care and discovering innovative processes and technologies that meet the Quadruple Aim of improving population health, elevating patient-centered care, and reducing costs while restoring joy to the practice of medicine.

Quantifying the impact of burnout

The survey reveals that "change fatigue" and lack of support to meet work demands are viewed as the greatest contributors to clinician burnout, with 71 percent of respondents naming these two factors. Many organizations say they are ill-equipped to prevent and treat clinician burnout and promote well-being.

The survey also finds:

• 64 percent of respondents say burnout leads to high turnover
• 58 percent say burnout leads to diminished relationships across members of care team
• 41 percent say burnout leads to reduced quality and safety of care
• 20 percent of respondents say "no one" owns clinician well-being at their organization.

A majority of respondents see increased leader visibility, rounding and communication as an effective solution to the burnout crisis, while nearly one in five say that their organization has no specific programs in place to promote clinician well-being.

Where technology fits in

As savvy healthcare leaders know, technology is a double-edge sword when it comes to physician and nurse well-being—on the one hand, the wrong types of technology can contribute to high rates of burnout, and on the other, the right kinds can foster providers' and care team members' well-being, joy and resilience.

The report includes several data points of interest related to technology:

• Healthcare executives list technology as one of the top three items adversely affecting physician (12 percent of respondents) and nurse (26% of respondents) resilience, well-being and joy
• 11 percent of healthcare leaders believe that technology is the greatest contributor to physician, nurse and staff burnout in their organizations
• 19 percent of healthcare executives say that changing the way technology is chosen is one of the top two actions they could take to improve their teams' well-being, resilience and joy
• 16 percent of survey respondents say they consider the impact of every strategic decision, including technology choices, on the resilience, well-being, and joy of their teams.

A framework for fueling a more resilient workforce

The survey finds, overall, that a comprehensive approach to tackling burnout should focus on:

• Connecting to purpose and joy
• Overcoming the inherent trauma of providing care
• Minimizing the unnecessary trauma caused by poor systems.

The report highlights innovative leaders who are making this work a strategic priority, and provides a framework for how other healthcare organizations can fuel a more resilient and joyful workforce by:

• Addressing resilience, well-being, and joy at every level
• Designing and diffusing a metric for humanity
• Elevating the office of human experience
• Building deeper partnerships with patients
• Promoting accountability beyond the system.

Interested? Read the full report

To delve deeper into the research findings, download the report via this link.

Liz Boehm is director of research at Vocera Communications and director of Vocera's Experience Innovation Network. Her life's work is to restore dignity and respect to the healthcare experience. She has an extensive healthcare background, including 15 years as leader of global healthcare research at Forrester Research. Her work focused on patient and consumer behavior, delivery and payment system management, and the role of technology in helping to transform healthcare. This experience made her a national expert on experience transformation.

The views, opinions and positions expressed within these guest posts are those of the author alone and do not represent those of Becker's Hospital Review/Becker's Healthcare. The accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made within this article are not guaranteed. We accept no liability for any errors, omissions or representations. The copyright of this content belongs to the author and any liability with regards to infringement of intellectual property rights remains with them.

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