Addressing Physician Burnout

Bring together sector leaders for a state-of-the-state discussion of Massachusetts healthcare and one recurring theme that arises, in addition to cost and quality issues, is physician burnout.

Doctors are facing increasing patient loads as populations are finally getting access to better insurance coverage. And MDs are also facing the pressures from implementing new electronic health record systems, and from increased administrative reporting; some Massachusetts health systems are responsible for monitoring and improving over 600 quality metrics. Layer on top of all that the great emotional burden caregivers face in helping patients deal with oftentimes debilitating and life-threatening illness and it becomes clear why many extraordinarily intelligent and committed physicians are eager to leave a profession they worked so hard to enter.

In addition to negatively affecting physician satisfaction and well-being, burnout negatively affects patient satisfaction, patient engagement, teamwork and team morale, quality and patient safety, and healthcare costs. Burnout is a driving force resulting in a physician suicide rate twice that of the public at large.

To address the physician burnout problem, MHA and the Massachusetts Medical Society have created the MMS-MHA Physician Burnout Task Force composed of physicians and physician group leaders within both hospital and physician practice environments. The task force work is expected to begin in January 2018 and conclude its work by year end. It will be co-chaired by Alain A. Chaoui, M.D., president-elect of MMS, and Steven M. Defossez, M.D., MHA's V.P. of clinical integration.

MHA and MMS will each appoint seven members to the task force.