“I’m having fun!”
It’s not something you hear every day at work, but that’s what we recently heard from Chris Robben, MD, Houston Methodist’s ACO medical director, while he was building a new quality metric dashboard. We suspect, though, that the true driver of his excitement was something more than mere metric making. He shared with us that he feels buoyed by a sense of progress, team autonomy, and ownership of the work taking place within the ACO. We couldn’t be happier to hear those words, and to hear similar remarks from some of our providers.
It has certainly been a journey to get there—one that has been worthwhile, with many hurdles and contributors working hard to make sure physicians love their jobs and have an active role in making that a reality.
Physician burnout is closely linked to low self-compassion; not just the workload and work conditions, but the physician’s perception of their ability to deliver well on that workload within those conditions. In other words, physicians hold themselves to high personal standards and become stressed when they can’t live up to them—a goal exacerbated when they don't have a voice, must work with inefficient systems, and face non-stop changes in their day-to-day.
So, how do you reduce physician burnout and increase physicians’ sense of self-compassion and joy? From our experience, it goes far beyond getting physicians to “buy-in” to a new initiative focused on changing their daily workflows. That would be taking an outside-in approach.
It’s all about making clear progress from engagement, to making sure physicians ultimately feel a sense of team autonomy and ownership. We see it as three phases:
1. Make your employed and independent physicians your key stakeholders.
2. Begin building a true trusting partnership with physicians based on providing the highest quality of patient care.
3. Empower physicians towards ownership and provide data to support decision making.