The power of listening
Adam S. Holzberg, DO, FACOG
Urogynecologist, director of physician engagement, Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine, Stratford, NJ.
“If you do not have engaged physicians who have a vested interest in being there five years from now, you are not going to be able to provide a good patient experience,” says Adam S. Holzberg, DO, adding that healthcare organizations that want to improve their patient experience must tackle physician burnout. “Every study has shown that if you have engaged providers, the patient has a better experience and that results in better outcomes.”
Healthcare administrators must start by measuring burnout in their organization. They should do this by enlisting an outside company to survey the doctors, says Holzberg. “You have to be willing to then act on it and create an action plan,” he says.
Progress is possible when leaders take the time to listen. In a prior position, Holzberg helped move the physician engagement scores from the 24th percentile compared to the national average to the 73rd percentile in less than five years. “It wasn’t because we gave them so much more, we just listened to them,” says Holzberg. “We had good methods of communication.”
The organization created a blog to keep physicians up to date on changes. It included a way for doctors to make suggestions on how to improve working conditions. Doctors always got a response to their suggestions, even if they weren’t feasible. “You can say no with a good explanation—you would be surprised at how much they appreciate that compared to no response at all,” Holzberg says.
Listening is a great way to reduce burnout. “There’s not a lot that providers want,” says Holzberg. “They want to take care of patients, have a say in the plan for the organization, and have some recognition for what they do. They want to have the supplies and tools they need to do their jobs and do it without a lot of obstacles. If you pay attention to a lot of that, you will be surprised at how much difference it can make.”