Administrative burdens and inefficient workflows can lead to doctor burnout, but physician practice transformation can help remove obstacles that interfere with patient care and harm physician well-being.

As you begin thinking about how to reduce doctor burnout, improve physician well-being and enhance the patient experience, here is a convenient glossary to help guide you through practice transformation and how the AMA can help.

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Committed to making physician burnout a thing of the past, the AMA has studied, and is currently addressing, issues causing and fueling physician burnout—including time constraints, technology and regulations—to better understand and reduce the challenges physicians face. By focusing on factors causing burnout at the system-level, the AMA assesses an organization’s well-being and offers guidance and targeted solutions to support physician well-being and satisfaction. 

  1. Healthy team culture

    1. Sometimes change sticks and sometimes it doesn’t. This might have to do with a practice’s culture, which is the set of underlying rules and beliefs that determine how everyone interacts with each other and with patients.
    2. Physicians and other health professionals can learn more about how addressing physician burnout begins with a healthy team through an AMA STEPS Forward™ module on creating a strong team culture.
  2. Advanced team-based care

    1. Burnout-producing administrative burdens and the need to prepare for value-based payments made it critical for Bellin Health to move away from traditional practice patterns and creatively rethink how it delivered health care.
    2. The solution developed by the 160-provider multispecialty system is the advanced team-based care model, which includes a physician and other members of the practice staff “up trained” to take on new roles and responsibilities that allowed doctors to devote more time to see patients.
  3. Empathetic listening

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    1. When physician practices or health systems listen with empathy, it can improve patient satisfaction. Practicing empathy can save time and effectively defuse situations while also developing deeper connections with patients and creating greater professional satisfaction and joy in work for physicians. This STEPS Forward module offers eight steps to help physicians and their health care team listen with empathy.
  4. Previsit planning

    1. One way to help a clinic run smoothly is previsit planning, as detailed in this STEPS Forward module. Patients are scheduled for future appointments at the conclusion of each visit, previsit lab testing is arranged and necessary information for upcoming visits is gathered. This can mean the difference between a clinic where a physician and the team are frustrated and a clinic that runs efficiently.
    2. Previsit planning is one of three often overlooked ways to make your practice more efficient.
  5. “Stupid stuff”

    1. Increasing administrative tasks for physicians means they have less time to focus on what is important, such as interacting with patients and delivering care. One health system in Hawaii is tackling physician administrative burdens by “getting rid of stupid stuff” to free up time for doctors and other health professionals.
  6. Embedded pharmacists

    1. The addition of a pharmacist into a team-based care practice model can improve patient outcomes. As key partners in patient care, pharmacists take on a variety of roles, such as helping get a patient’s diabetes or hypertension under control.
  7. Daily team huddles

    1. Being prepared for a busy clinic session is an essential part of any high-performing practice, particularly one that sees patients with complex health care needs. As the AMA STEPS Forward module on daily team huddles explains, they represent an effective strategy to prepare physicians and practice staff for the day and maximize the quality and quantity of time that can be spent with patients.
  8. In-basket management

    1. The default destination for most communication in the physician office is a doctor’s in-basket, housing overwhelming numbers of items and folders. As the workload grows, so does the volume of the in-basket, creating a burden that is difficult to effectively manage throughout the day. This leads to extra hours before and after clinic to complete between-visit clerical work, adding to physician burnout symptoms.

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The AMA’s STEPS Forward open-access modules offer innovative strategies that allow physicians and their staff to thrive in the new health care environment. These courses can help you prevent physician burnout, create the organizational foundation for joy in medicine and improve practice efficiency. Several CME modules address establishing workflows and process.

This series of modules is pa rt of the AMA Ed Hub™, an online platform with high-quality CME and education that supports the professional development needs of physicians and other health professionals. With topics relevant to you, it also offers an easy, streamlined way to find, take, track and report educational activities.

Learn more about AMA CME accreditation.

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