The American Medical Association (AMA) announced an escalation in its prominent efforts to fight the root causes of physician burnout and dissatisfaction with the launch of the Practice Transformation Initiative. The ambitious new course of action strengthens the AMA's resolve to advance evidence-based solutions that increase joy in medicine.
"Since 2013, the AMA has been leading the national conversation on physician burnout with innovative research and bold advocacy aimed at removing obstacles and burdens that contribute to symptoms of burnout in 44 percent of physicians," said AMA Board Chair Jesse M. Ehrenfeld, M.D., M.P.H. "While AMA efforts to date have increased awareness of the physician burnout crisis at all levels and driven positive change, there is an immediate need for transformational solutions."
While the frequency, causes and impact of professional fatigue and burnout among physicians have been well researched, actionable solutions have had much less rigorous analysis. As a result, information on effective interventions remains limited. The mission of the Practice Transformation Initiative is to fill the knowledge gaps regarding effective interventions to reduce burnout.
To make physician burnout a thing of the past, the initiative will support research and advance evidence-based solutions by collaborating with organizations who are committed to the practice transformation journey. Participating health systems and practices will take on improving joy in medicine by using validated assessment tools to measure burnout; field-testing interventions that are designed to improve workflows, applying practice science research methodology to evaluate impact and sharing best practices within an AMA facilitated learning community.
The collaborative mission of the Practice Transformation Initiative includes the Physicians Foundation supporting the engagement of interested state medical societies, with an initial cohort of the New Jersey Medical Society, North Carolina Medical Society and Washington State Medical Association. Each of these societies will recruit health systems and practice sites within their states to participate in this innovative initiative. This collaborative approach will establish multiple venues for field testing and studying results, generating evidence-based research and accelerating the spread of innovations that support clinician satisfaction.
In addition to building the evidence base for effective burnout interventions, the Practice Transformation Initiative will also focus on a larger call to action across the industry. To keep the health care system focused on driving improvements, the Practice Transformation Initiative will leverage the AMA's collaborative expertise to:
- Convene experts from around the health care system in a virtual community for proactive dialogue, consensus on solutions and collaborative sharing of best practice for improving clinician satisfaction. This shared learning effort will promote awareness of best practices and successful efforts to reduce administrative burden.
- Activate change at the organizational level through AMA resources, such as STEPS Forward™ and events. Health care institutions will be assisted in measuring burnout and its drivers and provide practical resources that support transformation to the Quadruple Aim.
- Recognize success among health systems and practices that have committed to efforts that improve physician satisfaction and reduce burnout. Organizations can apply to a recognition program that evaluates achievements against criteria demonstrating competencies in commitment, assessment, leadership, efficiency of practice environment, teamwork and support.
"Wide-spanning change in the health care delivery system needs to emphasize physician well-being as essential to achieving national health goals," said Dr. Ehrenfeld. "The Practice Transformation Initiative is positioned to lead the medical community to activate systematic change that will energize physician's in their life's work of caring for patients."
The AMA's ongoing work to reduce physician burnout is striving to attack the dysfunction in health care by removing the obstacles and burdens that interfere with patient care. The AMA offers physicians and health systems a choice of cutting-edge tools, information and resources to help rekindle a joy in medicine, including:
- STEPS Forward™ -- The AMA offers a collection of more than 50 award‐winning online tools that help physicians and medical teams make transformative changes to their practices and covers everything from managing stress and preventing burnout to improving practice workflow.
- Institutional Assessments -- The AMA assesses burnout levels within medical organizations to provide a baseline metric for implementing solutions and interventions that reduce system-level burnout rates and improve physician well-being. Contact Practice.Transformation@ama-assn.org to learn more.
- American Conference on Physician Health -- The AMA, Mayo Clinic and Stanford Medicine host a unique conference to be held Sept. 19-21 in Charlotte, N.C. to promote health and well-being in the ranks of U.S. physicians.
- Debunking Regulatory Myths -- The AMA provides regulatory clarifications to physicians and their care teams to aid in their day-to-day practice environment.
- EHRSeeWhatWeMean.org -- A collaboration between the AMA and MedStar Health to demonstrate the risks and challenges caused by poor usability in electronic health record technology that reduce time available for physicians to care for patients.
The AMA continues to work on every front to address the physician burnout crisis. Through our research, collaborations, advocacy and leadership, the AMA is working to make the patient‐physician relationship more valued than paperwork, preventive care the focus of the future, technology an asset and not a burden, and physician burnout a thing of the past.