Leadership 2016
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 2016

Reading List: Leemore Dafny and Stephen Swensen

NEJM Catalyst New Marketplace Theme Leader Leemore Dafny and Leadership Theme Leader Stephen Swensen weigh in on the most influential and inspiring readings of their careers.

Top-Down Implementation Process for Rapid Data Governance Adoption

Good data governance — a set of agreed-upon standards for gathering, formatting, and using data — is essential for health care organizations that want to tap into the power of their information.

Data Graphic: Cost and Coverage Impacts of the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017

Our breakdown of the Congressional Budget Office cost estimate of the U.S. Senate bill to replace the Affordable Care Act, compared to the U.S. House bill, the Affordable Health Care Act (AHCA)

Why Trump’s NIH Funding Cuts Would Be a Disaster

Undermining research funding will deplete medicine and science of the best and brightest minds and lead to a global destabilization with far-reaching impact.

Data Graphic: Health Care Drives Nearly One Million in Job Losses Under the AHCA

A recent study by the Commonwealth Fund on the economic and employment impact of the American Health Care Act (May 2017 version) shows almost one million job losses over the next 9 years, mostly in health care.

Reading List: Rushika Fernandopulle

NEJM Catalyst Thought Leader Rushika Fernandopulle weighs in on the most influential and inspiring texts of his career.

Treating Low-Income Individuals Is Our Obligation

The CEO of NewYork-Presbyterian discusses the policies, interventions, and perspectives required for making sure low-income individuals receive high-quality care.

Board Review and the Middle-Aged Doctor

Taking the boards as a middle-aged doctor offers a renewed perspective on one’s practice.

Reading List: Aaron Martin and Scott Weingarten

NEJM Catalyst Thought Leaders Aaron Martin and Scott Weingarten weigh in on the most influential and inspiring texts of their careers.

Health Insurance and Emergency Department Use — A Complex Relationship

The relationship between health insurance and emergency care isn’t straightforward.

Connect

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

Learn More »

Topics

Leading Teams

101 Articles

How Much Management Training, and How…

How much management training do health care leaders need, how frequently should they receive it,…

Team Care

69 Articles

How Do You Identify and Develop…

A young leader in cardiology interviews his former mentor, Christopher O’Connor, on what it means…

Implementing Patient-Reported Outcome Measures

PROMs pioneer shares what’s working in a large health system. Make it easy, make it…

Insights Council

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

Apply Now