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The surprising costs to the health system that extend beyond the pocketbook.
On the heels of the World Health Organization acknowledging the growing concern around workplace stress, healthcare executives need to be more mindful of physician burnout, according to experts.
“Burnout is being called a public health crisis because it affects the well-being of clinicians, their families, and patients, which in turn impacts clinical quality and financial outcomes. Burnout also leads to clinicians leaving the field sooner, and discourages the next generation from entering or remaining in the field to fill that void,” says Bridget Duffy, MD, chief medical officer of Vocera Communications, Inc., a San Jose, California provider of clinical communication and work flow solutions.
“Healthcare execs need to pay attention to this issue,” says Jay R. Anders, MD, chief medical officer, Medicomp Systems, Inc., whose data engine augments EHR systems and clinical workflows by transforming complex, unstructured clinical data into actionable insights at the point of care.
“The biggest and most important reason is that stressed physicians are more likely to make mistakes in patient care,” Anders says. “This was first recognized in the training of residents. When residents were stressed, they made more diagnostic and treatment errors. This can also happen with practicing physicians; the only difference is that residents have immediate oversight, whereas practicing physicians do not. In addition, physician burnout can lead to seasoned, experienced physicians leaving the practice of medicine and seeking other, less stressful endeavors.”
In addition to causing negative clinical outcomes, physician burnout does not come cheap to the U.S. healthcare system-approximately $4.6 billion a year, according to a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
There are eight ways that healthcare executives can help curb burnout: