Physician Health

6 ways to take your organization’s physician burnout temperature

Sara Berg, MS , News Editor

AMA News Wire

6 ways to take your organization’s physician burnout temperature

Sep 5, 2023

According to data exclusive to the AMA through its Organizational Biopsy®, the overall reported burnout rate among U.S. physicians last year was 53%. While practice inefficiencies and organizational culture are the principal drivers of physician burnout, it can be difficult for health care organizations to know where they stand and what steps they can take to reduce physician burnout and improve well-being.

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The AMA has achieved recent wins in 5 critical areas for physicians.

An AMA assessment tool that covers key performance indicators can help.  

The AMA’s Organizational Biopsy (PDF) offers a set of services for health systems and organizations. This includes an assessment tool developed to support holistically measuring and taking action to improve well-being in an organization.

Four main domains are assessed through the Organizational Biopsy:

  • Organizational culture such as leadership, teamwork and trust.
  • Practice efficiency, which includes workflows and team structure and stability.
  • Self-care such as managing post-traumatic stress and work-life balance.
  • Retention, which means keeping physicians at your organization.

After an assessment is complete, organizations receive an executive summary of their key findings and access to their health system’s Organizational Biopsy data through an online reporting platform. This platform also includes national comparison data that is exclusive to the AMA and not published anywhere else. It reflects the trends in six key performance indicators—job satisfaction, job stress, burnout, intent to leave an organization, feeling valued by an organization and total hours spent per week on work-related activities (known as “time spend”).

Related Coverage

Burnout high where you practice? AMA “biopsy” helps find out why

The purpose of the aggregated data is to provide a national summary of organizational well-being and to serve as a comparison for other health care organizations. The results may be limited by the health systems that choose to participate. 

Reducing physician burnout is a critical component of the AMA Recovery Plan for America’s Physicians.

Far too many American physicians experience burnout. That's why the AMA develops resources that prioritize well-being and highlight workflow changes so physicians can focus on what matters—patient care.

Learn about the six key performance indicators measured through the AMA Organizational Biopsy and how different organizations are making an impact.

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  1. Job satisfaction

    1. As part of the Organizational Biopsy, respondents are asked whether they are satisfied with their current jobs. For example, one health care organization with 12 locations across central and western Maine saw job satisfaction rise from 2020 to 2022. Learn about the efforts that helped improve satisfaction at their organization.
  2. Job stress

    1. In the assessment, physicians and other health professionals state whether they agree or disagree with the statement, “I feel a great deal of stress because of my job.” At Washington Permanente Medical Group—a member of the AMA Health System Program—reducing stress and burnout means seeing each decision through a well-being lens. 

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  3. Physician burnout

    1. Respondents are asked if they are experiencing one or more symptoms of burnout. When AMA Health System Program member Baptist Health Medical Group completed the Organizational Biopsy, they saw burnout rise slightly amid the pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic. The detailed survey data proved vital to Baptist Health’s shifting its well-being strategy to better address the drivers of burnout.
  4. Time spend

    1. Organizations can also look at the total hours spent per week on work-related activities. Weekly time spent averages are calculated based on estimates from survey respondents. Ochsner Health, another AMA Health System Program member, has used Organizational Biopsy data to inform its efforts to reduce time spend by enhancing workflow efficiency, cutting documentation and work outside of work, and getting rid of EHR hassles.
  5. Intent to leave

    1. With the ongoing physician and staff shortage, it is important to assess intent to leave. Respondents are asked how likely they are to leave their current organization within the next two years. Find out how one North Carolina health system that once struggled with this metric has found ways to keep physicians engaged.
  6. Feeling valued

    1. As the feeling of being valued falls among doctors, intent to leave rises, which is a key finding for many health systems concerned about retention and the high cost of physician turnover. Learn how a major cancer center created a list of items for physicians to rank low, medium and high on how they affected doctors’ sense of feeling valued and acted on the results.

Find out how the AMA partners with health system leaders to improve physician well-being by:

  • Effectively measuring and benchmarking burnout levels.
  • Taking action with tailored leadership workshops and coaching sessions.
  • Accurately evaluating progress.

Also, learn more about the AMA’s organizational well-being assessment (PDF) work or email the AMA practice transformation team for more information.