3 ways a Kaiser Permanente physician aims to restore joy in medicine

A California medical group created a simple strategy that aims to restore joy and meaning to medicine.

Amanjot Sethi, MD, who directs wellness operations for The Permanente Medical Group — part of Oakland, Calif.-based Kaiser Permanente — and his team started the strategy by developing tools that track well-being among physicians, according to a March 14 article on the American Medical Association website. The survey collected data on workload, wellness, the impact of clerical and administrative burden, professional development and psychological safety. 

Using that data, Dr. Sethi and his colleagues focused on three ways to create change:

  • Practice support: Optimize systems and tools, allowing people to spend more of their time on meaningful and purpose-driven work.

  • Culture: Change the culture to support joy and meaning. This can be done through how health systems choose their leaders, broader spectrums of professional development, or creating a more collaborative environment.

  • Personal wellness: Create a diverse array of personal wellness programs to help physicians and teams prioritize their health.

"It’s not enough to have a strategy," Dr. Sethi said in the article. "You need to put goals and the strategy in motion." 

Often, the simplest things people discover within their own work unit or department make the biggest difference, Dr. Sethi said. He shared an example from the orthopedics department that looked at the clerical burden of physical therapy orders. The department worked to develop new ordering templates so medical assistants could input the orders based on the type of patient being treated.

"This was a small intervention with a really tangible impact," Dr. Sethi said.

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