Leadership
Clip
Reducing Burnout: Good for Your Bottom Line (02:53)

In an era of constrained resources, how do you make the business case for innovations to reduce physician burnout? How do you pay for them?

“Anything that reduces health professional burnout is going to be better for our bottom line,” says Christine Sinsky, noting that recruiting and replacing a primary care physician costs about $400,000. The University of Utah, for example, developed a collaborative care model that helped reduce the staff cost-per-work RVU generated. “That makes sense to me when you’re more strategically distributing the tasks according to skill level so that you can make the business case for many of these innovations in the fee-for-service world and in the longer-term accountable care world,” Sinsky says.

“We’ve had an increased focus on safety and patient satisfaction [and] quality of care,” adds Tait Shanafelt, “and as evidence of the impact of provider satisfaction and burnout on those outcomes has grown more robust, I think the business case is clear.”

But there’s a second part to that question, says Shanafelt: the incorrect assumption that rectifying physician burnout is expensive and requires a massive investment to make improvements. Shanafelt describes how at Mayo Clinic in 2013, when 20 work units focused on reducing burnout, the only incremental resource they needed was the team that helped them engage in dialogue, identify solutions, and put them into effect. “Many of the redesign activities just require asking and empowering the local team to make changes and redeploy the current staff they have to perform different tasks,” explains Shanafelt.

For other provider satisfaction activities at Mayo Clinic, such as physician engagement groups, the cost per year is minimal. “We often refer to [these groups] as ‘budget dust’ because it’s less than 0.10% of the compensation that we pay to the physicians,” Shanafelt says. “So if it helps keep them in the practice and high functioning, it’s almost immeasurable in the scheme of their compensation.”

From the NEJM Catalyst event Leadership: Translating Challenge to Success at Mayo Clinic, June 2, 2016.

More From Leadership
Eddie Greene04 Panel Clip Still: Financial Stewardship - Managing for Population Health or Volume, Not Both

Manage for Population Health or Volume — Not Both

If you’re doing the right thing to transform care delivery, your organization can bear the cost.

Data Graphic: The ACA Repeal Update

NEJM Catalyst’s regular review of proposed health care legislation as it compares to the Affordable Care Act.

Data Graphic: How the American Health Care Act Will Impact Americans

Older, low-income consumers are the biggest losers when it comes to impact on premiums.

Performance Training and Public Health for Physician Burnout

For too long, physicians have operated under the belief that their obligation to patients comes at any cost, even when this cost is their own health.

Lessons in Leadership: Nick Restrepo

What difference can one individual make? Plenty. Two doctor leaders discuss the impact one colleague’s bequest — earmarked for physician development — has had on their institution’s quality and safety program.

My Favorite Slide: The Entrepreneurial Gap Applied to Health Care

When physicians become accountable for results beyond their immediate control, they are forced to become entrepreneurs for better health care.

Lessons in Leadership: Amy Compton-Phillips

A physician executive recalls what she learned from an assessment of her leadership style early in her career and challenges as a woman leader in a traditionally male-dominated profession.

Lessons in Leadership: James Reinertsen

A former hospital system CEO reflects on the challenge of getting individual hospitals to function as a true system.

Data Graphic: What’s Easy and Hard About Changing the ACA

On the Affordable Care Act road map to repeal, some quick options are available, but comprehensive replacement will take time and political compromise.

Lessons in Leadership: Michael Shabot

Multi-hospital Memorial Hermann Health System’s CMO married the system’s demonstrated operational excellence with an audacious quality and safety agenda.

Connect

A weekly email newsletter featuring the latest actionable ideas and practical innovations from NEJM Catalyst.

Learn More »

Topics

Primary Care

101 Articles

Changing How We Pay for Primary…

Primary care accounts for more than half of the United States’ office visits, but direct…

Medicare

67 Articles

How CareMore Embraced Medicaid

There isn’t a population of patients who needs a culture of caring more than those…

Survey Snapshot: Genomic Data Is Far…

NEJM Catalyst Insights Council members say that clinical and cost data will continue to be…

Insights Council

Have a voice. Join other health care leaders effecting change, shaping tomorrow.

Apply Now