Brigham and Women's 3-pronged approach to physician engagement

Brigham and Women's Hospital
Brigham and Women's Hospital is taking a multifaceted approach to physician engagement. (Brigham and Women's Hospital)

Brigham and Women's Hospital is taking a multipronged approach to engaging physicians in how to change and lead healthcare. 

Jessica Dudley, M.D., chief medical officer for the Brigham and Women's Physcians Organization and the vice president for care redesign at Brigham and Women's HealthCare, said in an interview with NEJM Catalyst that physician engagement requires organizations to tackle three key issues at once: prevention of burnout, leadership training and participation in innovation.

The hospital has multiple initiatives to tackle its three engagement goals, Dudley said. It has invested in formal training programs, including one in partnership with Harvard Business School, to foster leadership among doctors. Some of the programs target specific groups, like encouraging women to get involved in leadership, she said. 

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Brigham also put a framework in place to gather innovative ideas from its physicians, Dudley said. Programs that started under its Brigham Care Redesign Incubator and Startup Program targeted, for example, chronically ill patients or patients who were falling through the cracks in cardiology. 

These strategies also help address burnout because job satisfaction and a sense of professional fulfillment can come from leadership, Dudley said.  

RELATED: Stressed-out ER doctors not only burn out, they make more patient care mistakes 

Organizations that want to combat burnout must start early, preferably during training and residency. Approaches could emphasize solutions like personal wellness or redesigning medical education to reduce the impacts of burnout on doctors before they even fully enter the field. 

The Mayo Clinic has also offered a number of ways to better engage physicians, including: 

  • Encouraging peer support. Mayo has tried a number of ways to get its physicians to work more closely together, including small group work.
  • Allowing for work-life balance. Physicians work long hours, straining the work-life balance, but healthcare organizations can accommodate for this by allowing for more flexible work schedules.
  • Offering the right incentives. Some rewards work better for different doctors; some may respond to financial rewards, while others may instead prefer greater flexibility to pursue work they find meaningful.