Measurement is key
Healthcare executives may be aware that burnout is common in the industry, but they seem to be less certain about the specifics of how it's playing out at their organizations.
Karen Weiner, MD, MMM, CPE, chief medical officer and CEO at Oregon Medical Group, a physician-owned, primary care–based multispecialty group of about 140 healthcare providers, with offices throughout the Eugene and Springfield area, received 151 replies for her survey of three of AMGA's leadership councils (Chief Executive Officer/Board Chair/President council; Chief Medical Officer/Medical Director council; and Chief Administrative/Chief Operating Officer council) in the fall of 2015. The survey results show that 86% of CEOs, 86% of CMOs, and 81% of COOs reported that they thought burnout was a problem within their organizations. But when asked if they were doing formal assessments of physician burnout at their organizations, only 21% of CEOS, 18% of CMOs, and 21% of COOs said yes.
Linzer, who has been researching physician work-life since the 1990s, says measurement is key to tackling burnout.
"You can't reduce burnout without measuring stress and the things that cause it," he says.
He advises that leaders distribute an annual wellness survey like the 10-item Zero Burnout Program survey, also called the Mini Z, which he and his colleagues at HCMC helped develop.
"They should measure some metric of wellness that they can report—satisfaction, engagement, stress, burnout, turnover—but they should have something to point to about the health of their workforce," he says.
Once leaders understand the extent of burnout at their organization, they need to dig deep and discover what is causing the burnout, and work to address the root causes.
Jennifer Thew, RN, is the senior nursing editor at HealthLeaders.