While the problem of physician burnout has decreased in recent years, AMA says more progress is needed. The association will work on new research exploring the issue and expand existing programs.
The American Medical Association this week announced a new campaign to get at the root of a persistent problem in the medical profession: physician burnout. The Practice Transformation Initiative will pursue “evidence-based solutions that increase joy in medicine,” AMA said in a statement announcing the program.
A recent report from AMA, with the support of the Rand Corporation, the Mayo Clinic, and the Stanford University School of Medicine, noted that 44 percent of doctors surveyed faced some kind of burnout in 2017—a significant number, but down from 54.4 percent in 2014 and 45.5 percent in 2011. Physicians’ dissatisfaction was often linked to challenges in offering a high level of care, including the increasing complexity of maintaining electronic health records—which have added more mundane tasks like data entry—and to limitations on the time they can spend with patients.
“Among other things, the researchers found that physicians who perceived themselves or their practices as providing high-quality care reported better professional satisfaction,” the report stated. “Physicians, especially those in primary care, were frustrated when demands for greater quantity of care limited the time they could spend with each patient, detracting from the quality of care in some cases.”
AMA Chair Jesse M. Ehrenfeld, M.D., said that while the association has made progress since beginning its focus on the issue in 2013, “there is an immediate need for transformational solutions.”
“Wide-spanning change in the healthcare delivery system needs to emphasize physician well-being as essential to achieving national health goals,” Ehrenfeld said in the AMA statement.
To help solve these issues, the initiative will build on AMA’s previous work to improve physician satisfaction and reduce burnout. It will expand research efforts, bring together stakeholders to create a dialogue, add member resources such as its existing STEPS Forward education program, and recognize successes in the field.
AMA said it will work with state medical societies to field-test solutions and study results.
“The Practice Transformation Initiative is positioned to lead the medical community to activate systematic change that will energize physicians in their life’s work of caring for patients,” Ehrenfeld said.