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Thanking the Physicians Championing Physician Burnout


In our series with Janae Sharp, the president of Geneia recognizes 10 physicians who galvanize the industry to confront the epidemic of physician dissatisfaction.

physician burnout, physician gratitude,heal the healers,geneia physician burnout

I’ve had the honor of discussing the difference that gratitude can make for physician well-being, and it’s not a responsibility I take lightly. One of the most effective ways for each individual to make a change for the better for mental health is to write a thank-you note. It might seem like a small gesture, but the act’s effects are far greater than any single writer might understand.

>> READ: Leaders Weigh In on Solutions for Physician Burnout

Sharp Index and Healthcare Analytics News™ (HCA News) are collaborating to collect and share letters to providers and to invite each person — patients, health system administrators and startup innovators alike — to write a note of thanks to their physician.

You can find previous letters here and here. At #HIMSS19, we will also have an in-person cocktail hour where we take a moment and write a thank-you note to providers. Yes, we’ll be busting out markers and even paper.

So many physicians are dissatisfied with electronic health records. Patients are dissatisfied. Even the electronic health records seem dissatisfied lately. With so much unhappiness, we could all use some good news. Geneia is working to improve these hot spots of misery. I asked Heather Lavoie, Geneia’s president, to participate in our series.

Here it is:

By all accounts, the healthcare industry is burdened by widespread physician dissatisfaction.

Medscape’s National Physician Burnout, Depression & Suicide Report 2019 found 44 percent of physicians feel burned out, 11 percent were “colloquially depressed” and 4 percent were clinically depressed. Between 2015 and 2018, the Physician Misery Index, a tool Geneia created to measure national physician satisfaction, increased to nearly four out of five. During the same three-year period, physician burnout and the impact on doctors, patients and healthcare institutions has become a frequent topic of conversation. Increasingly, the discussion has evolved to solutions, which range from using scribes to help with documentation to hiring a chief wellness officer.

Today I want to name and thank 10 of the many doctors who have championed the issue of physician burnout and helped to galvanize the healthcare industry to work to restore the joy of medicine.

Christine Sinsky, M.D., vice president, professional satisfaction of the American Medical Association and leading architect of the STEPS Forward program to improve practice efficiency and achieve the Quadruple Aim. Her 2013 article, In Search of Joy in Practice: A Report of 23 High-Functioning Primary Care Practices, which is some of the earliest physician satisfaction research, found, “Those who practice adult primary care are often deeply dissatisfied, spending much of their days performing functions that do not require their professional training.”

Tait Shanafelt, M.D., Stanford Medicine’s first chief wellness officer and director of WellMD Center. He is credited with launching an initiative at the Mayo Clinic that “reduced physician burnout rates at a time when they were on the rise nationally.”

Gail Gazelle, M.D., a physician burnout coach and the author of Building Your Resilient Self: 52 Tips to Move from Physician Burnout to Balance.

Gabe Charbonneau, M.D., founder of FightBurnout.org, a project to celebrate the people who are making a difference in the issue of clinician burnout.

Geeta Nayyar, M.D., MBA, chief healthcare & innovation officer at Femwell Group Health, and the author of a white paper called Why Clinician Engagement is Critical to Effective Electronic Health Record Implementation.

Lyle Berkowitz, M.D., practicing internal medicine physician, the director of innovation for Northwestern Medicine, founder of the Szollosi Healthcare Innovation Program and chief medical officer and co-founder of healthfinch, a company that automates routine, repetitive clinical tasks such as prescription refills.

Dike Drummond, M.D., founder of TheHappyMD and author of the book Stop Physician Burnout.

Linda Girgis, M.D., a top-ranked blogger “speaking up from the frontlines of medicine” and editor-in-chief of Physicians Weekly.

Robert Pearl, M.D., Forbes contributor, author of Mistreated: Why We Think We’re Getting Good Healthcare — And Why We’re Usually Wrong, and host of the Fixing Healthcare Podcast.

Bryan Vartabedian, M.D., creator of 33 charts, “thought leadership for issues doctors face in a digital world.”

Undoubtedly, there are many other doctors who are working to reverse physician dissatisfaction. Who would you add to this list?

— Heather Lavoie, Geneia President

The idea of writing a list of the physicians who have made a positive impact in my life is appealing. There are also many physician leaders that are working to improve healthcare.

Zubin Damania, M.D., has spoken about the “moral injury” and the workplace for physicians and nurses. I was really impressed with his approach of using modern media to increase awareness of the problems physicians face. I even got to discuss my story with him, and I love that he has continued the effort.

I am also impressed with Sachin Jain M.D., who inspired my effort to increase gratitude.

As someone who works in healthcare IT — as a volunteer with the Sharp Index and the Utah HIMSS board and in my regular work — I see many physicians that could be added to the list. One of them is my children’s current pediatrician, Ryan Donnelly M.D. He knows my children and always gives them great care.

Great care is something to be grateful for. And great people are working to improve what many Physicians identify as the worst problems in healthcare: our electronic health records.

Who would you add?

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