What Physicians Want to Reduce Burnout

August 16, 2019
Nicholas Hamm
Nicholas Hamm

The changes health executives should make to help ease the burnout problem.

Physician burnout is a major problem in healthcare. A new survey shows just how much of a problem burnout is-and the steps physicians want executives to take to reduce burnout.

The survey from InCrowd, a market research firm based in Boston, found that across all specialties, 68% of U.S. physicians experience burnout. That figure is highest for primary care physicians, 79% of whom reported burnout.

Burnout was highest among younger physicians, with 74% of physicians in their 30s and 40s reporting burnout. One in three physicians (34%) said they would not recommend the profession to a relative, with 32% of those respondents saying that it is not worth the sacrifices (financial, emotional) to pursue the career.

With some estimates putting the cost of physician burnout at $4.6 billion a year, it’s vital that healthcare executives take steps to ease physician burdens and reduce the turnover and lower productivity caused by burnout.

However, the InCrowd survey found that physicians believe their organizations aren’t doing enough to address burnout-just 25% of respondents felt that their organization’s efforts were effectively addressing burnout.

Related: Negative Effects Of Healthcare Provider Burnout Not Lost On Patients

So what do physicians want?

"Physicians are telling us more support staff would help ease the burden-this was the top suggestion by respondents with nearly two-thirds calling out the need,” says Diane Hayes, PhD, president and co-founder, InCrowd.  “Physicians also expressed a need for mandatory vacations times and half days, as well a reduction in patient volumes. These three asks are a good place to start for organizations seeking to meaningfully address the problem.”

Hayes points out that the 25% of respondents who said their organization was effectively managing burnout, cited improved workflow, schedule flexibility, and support of wellness as successful measures against burnout.

When asked for other suggestions to fix burnout, 51% of respondents focused on addressing administrative burdens, such as scribes for helping with EMRs or increasing training for staff.

“These insights offer additional areas of opportunity for organizations to learn from others' success in implementing a strategy to address burnout,” Hayes says.