Industry Voices—Johnson & Johnson series on burnout: How to help the healthcare ecosystem thrive

Physician burnout
When communication improves – it’s a win-win: patients are more satisfied with their care and HCPs report increased job satisfaction, less stress, and reduced burnout. (DigitalVision/Getty Images)

Editor's note: This is the second in a two-part series.

So far in this series, we’ve sought to better understand and address healthcare provider (HCP) burnout by comparing a healthcare ecosystem to a fish tank.

Part one explored the idea that each setting operates best when each component is properly cared for. Now, let’s examine best practices for introducing other different types of fish (patients) to the ecosystem.

Start with communication

Think about the last time you saw a healthcare provider. How did it go?

Did they greet you by name? Beyond asking what brought you in, did they inquire about what’s important to you and how they can help get you there? Help you understand what you need to do to improve or maintain your health? Maybe even show you how to do something?

We know that the answer to these questions contributes to a patient’s active engagement in their own healthcare journey and that facilitating deeper connections are critical to our successes.

RELATED: For first time, burnout rate among physicians drops in new survey, now below 45%

Patients are individuals and have unique needs to be addressed across a variety of domains: motivation surrounding the level of treatment need, their strength of resources and support. Having an effective conversation between an HCP and a patient helps draw out these differences and meet a patient where they’re at.

When we get away from the “one style fits all” approach, something amazing happens. When communication improves, it’s a win-win: patients are more satisfied with their care and HCPs report increased job satisfaction, less stress and reduced burnout. Even better, more pertinent information is shared and treatment can be more effective. We even see fewer malpractice claims.

Effective interactions

Remind HCPs about the powerful skill set they likely already have: the ability to connect with a patient through a conversation that effectively educates the patient and empowers them to be their own healthcare champion. We have built a framework that captures evidence-based principles to support positive patient-provider interactions which benefit both parties.

The HealthCaring Conversations Framework was developed as a tool to support HCP interactions and to build person-centered and behavior change-oriented communication skills. The foundation of these skills have underpinnings in decades of well-thought-out and researched theories (Health Belief Model, Social Cognitive Theory, Self-Determination Theory, Motivational Interviewing, etc.), principles (Therapeutic Alliance) and strategies (shared decision making, action planning, goal setting, and activation). The framework is built on the core understanding that the above factors influence health behaviors by addressing what is considered to be the core elements associated with behavior change: motivation, capability and opportunity.

HealthCaring Conversations has been deployed nationally in both an oral care setting, to support dentists and hygienists, and in a clinical research trial setting, to support recruitment conversations.


It's also important to keep the provider and patient fish connected when not in the same tank.

RELATED: As burnout spreads, healthcare organizations scramble for answers

Health care portals are a positive start, but there are considerations to take into account. Portals assist provider performance by improving administrative efficiencies and replacing routine administrative tasks allowing for more focus on critical patients.

However, portals need to go beyond their features and functions. Therefore, engaging patients, building an experience and supporting organic workflows should be the core value and process. It should be a seamless fit without forced changes to team care processes. Overall, it’s critical to have care teams actively participate in discussions.

What’s Next

We’ve touched on different components of the “fish tank” and opportunities to maintain a healthy ecosystem for providers and patients. Improving support for provider wellbeing at both individual and organizational levels is essential.

We see gains in patient health when a strong foundation of communication and rapport is built between patient and provider, with technology playing an important role in this relationship.

It’s critical to remember that the ecosystem functions best when each component is cared for.

Nicole Brainard, Heather Cole-Lewis, Jennifer Turgiss and Raphaela O'Day are all experts at Johnson & Johnson Health and Wellness Solutions.