As a respected thought leader and convener, the American Medical Association bases its work in practice transformation and professional satisfaction on rigorous research and practice science.
Physician burnout has economic costs as well as financial costs associated with staff turnover, lost revenue, decreased productivity and risks to the organization from lower quality of care and potential for more frequent medical errors.
Previous AMA research highlighted the system-level issues that drive burnout, and the steps organizations can take to coordinate solutions for effective changes.
Our seminal research on physician burnout has shaped our collective understanding of its underlying causes, drivers of burnout, and the impact burnout has on physicians, patients and health care organizations. In collaboration with health care systems, the AMA’s research efforts are aimed at delivering evidence-based, actionable solutions to increase professional well-being.
Allocation of physician time in ambulatory practice: a time motion study in four specialties: For every hour physicians provide direct clinical face time to patients, nearly two additional hours are spent on EHRs and desk work within the clinic day. Outside office hours, physicians spend another 1 to 2 hours of personal time each night doing additional computer and other clerical work.
Estimating attributable cost of physician burnout: The organizational cost of physician burnout can range from $500,000 to more than $1 million per physician. This estimate includes recruitment, sign-on bonuses, lost billings and onboarding costs for replacement physicians.
The business case for investing in well-being: Organizations can begin to take action against physician burnout by understanding the economic costs and learning about meaningful interventions that can address the problem. Addressing well-being is an organization’s ethical and fiscal responsibility.
National burnout survey: More than 5,000 physicians responded to a survey conducted by researchers from the AMA, the Mayo Clinic and Stanford University School of Medicine. The study found that 43.9% of U.S. physicians exhibited at least one symptom of burnout in 2017, compared with 54.4% in 2014 and 45.5% in 2011.
Practice science research
Factors affecting physician professional satisfaction and their implications for patient care, health systems and health policy: This formative report from AMA and the RAND corporation identifies key drivers of professional satisfaction and provides recommendations to the health care community for improving satisfaction and reducing burnout.
Practice Transformation Initiative: The AMA supports health care organizations in one-year practice science research projects. As part of this initiative, organizations implement an intervention designed to reduce physician burnout and measure key metrics at baseline, interim and post-intervention.
Practice Transformation Initiative awardees (PDF): Learn more about AMA-funded projects supported through the Practice Transformation Initiative.
Research has illustrated that EHRs may largely contribute to physician burnout and frustration. The AMA has partnered with several research teams from around the country to further understand the impact of EHRs on professional satisfaction and to illuminate the promise of objective EHR use metrics to quantify elements of efficiency of practice and teamwork.
Metrics for assessing physician activity using EHR log data: Published in JAMIA in 2020, authors propose seven core measures of EHR use that reflect multiple dimensions of practice efficiency and use cases of these measures for multiple stakeholders. Authors argue that standardization of EHR use measures will foster cross-study synthesis and comparative research.
EHR-use metric research list of awardees: The AMA has partnered with several organizations to generate and define a standard set of objective measures to assess physician activity through the electronic health record. Several research projects will also evaluate EHR use metrics and their relationship to burnout, professional satisfaction and well-being. The following research partners have collaborated with the AMA to expand our understanding of the EHR and EHR use metrics. Published research is anticipated in 2021.
—University of Wisconsin Health
—University of California, San Diego