Physician burnout is a complex and multilayered problem that must be tackled at its root. This means eliminating the foundational drivers of burnout and establishing a culture of wellness that allows physicians to deliver high-quality patient care. Reclaiming physician fulfillment in caring for patients is what the AMA Joy in Medicine™ Health System Recognition Program seeks to achieve.
A total of 72 health systems, hospitals and medical groups were recognized this week as 2023 Joy in Medicine-recognized organizations, including 37 that earned this distinction in a prior year and have continued to excel, as well as 35 first-time recipients. Each recognized organization has demonstrated competency in the six distinct areas: commitment, assessment, leadership, teamwork, efficiency of practice environment, and support. Their achievements are recognized at three levels (gold, silver and bronze). See the full list of the 2023 Joy in Medicine-recognized organizations.
While annual ratings, lists and rankings of all types of health care organizations are commonplace, Joy in Medicine is the standard by which our nation’s best health systems should be judged because it recognizes those taking the right steps to care for their physicians, as well as patients.
Not only does Joy in Medicine highlight exemplary health systems, it takes the next important step by providing clear and evidence-based best practices and guidance to help health systems better understand where they succeed and where they fall short. We believe this to be the most effective way to elevate health system performance and accountability, and to help physicians and their clinical care teams overcome system-level drivers of burnout.
While the Joy in Medicine effort was launched just four years ago this month, the AMA assumed a leadership role in the battle against burnout long before then. Burnout bears insidious and far-reaching effects that push physicians away from practice and bring even more pressure to bear on an overburdened health care system. Creating and sustaining a culture of wellness that promotes professional fulfillment is the driving force behind the Joy in Medicine effort, and the reason that burnout reduction is one of the five pillars of the AMA Recovery Plan for America’s Physicians.
Physician burnout that affects two-thirds of our colleagues, based on the most recent national survey in 2021, is complex and no single remedy will reverse this trend. That’s why the AMA is taking a multifaceted approach to the problem, seeking legislative fixes in state legislatures and Congress to remove or reform the most common burdens physicians encounter, such as the onerous prior authorization process.
We’re also working at the state and national levels to identify outdated, stigmatizing language on medical licensing board, health system credentialing and other applications as well as employment and credentialing applications. In partnership with the Dr. Lorna Breen Heroes Foundation and the nation’s state medical societies, the AMA is seeking to remove questions that ask about “past diagnosis” and replace them with questions that only ask about “current impairment.”
The AMA also has supported legislative victories in several states to create confidential physician wellness programs so that physicians who need coaching, counseling or other services to better address burnout, stress or similar situations, can do so in private.
But there is a lot that health systems can do—and are doing—on their own to also help address burnout. The Joy in Medicine-recognized organizations haven’t figured everything out, to be sure. But they continue to demonstrate an unyielding commitment to improving physician satisfaction through policies and programs that actively support well-being, promote teamwork and boost operational efficiency.
Every health care organization would do well to thoroughly examine their own processes and implement the improvements that promote wellness across their entire workforce while strengthening the patient-physician relationship.
Physicians commit themselves to a lifetime of service to others. We need to give physicians every opportunity to deliver the quality care they have been so thoroughly trained to provide by breaking down every obstacle in their way, at every opportunity. The AMA Joy in Medicine Recognition Program can serve as a road map toward that goal. The AMA will continue to offer the resources needed to advance that journey by seeking to slash administrative burdens, and always ensure that technology serves physicians—and not the other way around.