William J. Maples, M.D., executive director for the Institute for Healthcare Excellence in Nebraska, is glad that people have begun to acknowledge the physician burnout epidemic, but he wants to see less talk and more action.
That’s why he and two other leaders on burnout, Bridget Duffy, M.D. chief medical officer at Vocera in California, and Ronald Paulus, president and CEO at Mission Health in North Carolina, have convened a national task force on restoring joy and purpose in medicine.
“We’ve seen literally a smorgasbord of a hundred things that a healthcare institution can do,” Maples says. “But it always amazes me that there’s a lack of deep understanding of how critical this problem is.”
The task force’s first gathering took place in November 2016, and brought together physicians, nurses, healthcare writers, health technology entrepreneurs, health system executives, hospital administrators, and resiliency and neurology experts. They represented a wide swath of the country and different kinds of health systems, as well as nonprofits, and education systems.
They broke their plan into three key strategies with the goal of developing a national “blueprint” for change that could be adopted by any healthcare institution or practice.
Their first group focused on “telling the story and creating a business case for the burnout issue.” What he calls “Frontline staff” including physicians and nurses who “need to have a voice in this. I think that voice has been relatively absent in all the literature on burnout,” he says.
Maples also believes that the patients who are receiving care from burnt out physicians need to be heard as well.