60% of organizations think burnout will be worse in 2-3 years: 5 survey insights

Clinician burnout is one of the most important issues facing healthcare leaders today, though executives are more optimistic than clinicians that burnout conditions will improve, according to a recent survey published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Stephen Swensen, MD, medical director for professionalism and peer support of Salt Lake City-based Intermountain Healthcare; Steven Strongwater, MD, president and CEO of Newton, Mass.-based Atrius Health; and Namita Seth Mohta, MD, clinical editor for NEJM Catalyst, conducted an online survey of 703 members of the NEJM Catalyst Insights Council, which comprises healthcare executives, clinical leaders and clinicians, about clinician burnout in September 2017.

Here are five insights from the survey.

1. Thirty-five percent of respondents considered clinician burnout a serious problem, while 48 percent called it a moderate problem. Nurses took the issue most seriously, with 28 percent considering burnout a serious problem.Only 8 percent of executives held the same belief.

2. Roughly 60 percent of respondents expects burnout to get worse at their organizations in the next two to three years. Only 15 percent of respondents think it will get better.

3. Executives (26 percent) were more optimistic that burnout will improve in the next two to three years than clinicians (11 percent).

4. Clinicians can take steps to reduce their risk of burnout, such as practicing self-care (51 percent) and   participating in communities or peer support (37 percent).

5. Minimizing clerical tasks was the No. 1 method respondents said organizations can take to reduce clinician burnout, with 54 percent of respondents citing off-loading those tasks to scribes and other workers. Forty-six percent of respondents supported improving EMRs and 21 percent of respondents said providers should improve their organizational culture of wellness.

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