Doc, nurse burnout: Healthcare execs must take action now

doctor burnout

While 91 percent of 150 healthcare leaders and frontline workers realize that preventing burnout among physicians and nurses is important, a new report finds that two-thirds admit that they've failed to institute measures to improve clinician well-being at their facilities.

The reality is, the well-being of clinical staff typically gets lost amidst organizational priorities such as quality, safety, financial performance and patient/family experience, according to a research report released by Vocera Communications.

Still, not all is lost. Two-thirds of nurses report that staffing levels have a demonstrable impact on their well-being, whereas doctors say that the amount of administrative work plays a similar role.

“The increase in burnout among physicians, nurses and other healthcare staff has reached a critical tipping point; and while many leaders agree that it’s a widespread issue that directly affects patient care, only a few visionaries are actually prioritizing the well-being of their teams as a top strategic priority,” said Liz Boehm, research director at Vocera, in a study announcement.

Additional report findings include:

Clinician burnout hurts staff and patients. Sixty-four percent of survey participants point to high staff turnover as the main symptom of burnout. Fifty-eight percent say it results in diminished relationships across members of the care team. Other harms highlighted in the report were reduced quality and safety of care (41 percent) and diminished relationships between clinicians and their patients (38 percent).

Doctors and nurses want to feel like they make a difference. Seventy-one percent of survey participants said change fatigue and lack of adequate support were the predominant drivers of burnout. Eighteen percent of respondents pointed to increased regulatory oversight and payers as contributing factors.

“Competing projects and chasing industry scores make it challenging to focus on people, but it’s not impossible. Organizations must create a metric for humanity and find innovative ways to elevate physician, nurse and staff well-being,” Bridget Duffy, M.D., chief medical officer of Vocera, said in the report announcement.

“It’s time to restore purpose and joy in healthcare through bold leadership, process improvement and technologies that strengthen relationships," she said. "Investing in human capital to fuel a more resilient workforce is the only way to improve outcomes in a sustainable way."