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Report offers solutions to prevent caregiver burnout


October 24, 2019

By Jay Kumar, PSQH

The National Academy of Medicine offered recommendations to prevent and mitigate caregiver burnout in a new report released this week. The recommendations target changes in workplace culture, debt and financial stress, and policies, practices, and technologies that detract from patient care.

Called “Taking Action Against Clinician Burnout: A Systems Approach to Professional Well-Being,” the report was prepared by the Committee on Systems Approaches to Improve Patient Care by Supporting Clinician Well-Being.

“While many health care stakeholders are initiating important actions to address the burnout problem, there is little research indicating how effective they are in reducing burnout (and even less concerning their effectiveness in improving well-being or patient care),” according to the report’s summary. “The committee’s systems framework emphasizes the identification of interventions aimed at tackling the critical factors contributing to burnout as a way of fostering an improved state of professional well-being while improving patient care. There is evidence that interventions focused on work organization can mitigate burnout; thus, health care organizations are a powerful determinant and have a critical role to play in reducing clinician burnout. The evidence also indicates that

individual-focused strategies may be beneficial and can be an effective part of larger organizational efforts but that, on their own, they do not sufficiently address clinician burnout.”

The panel found that healthcare organizations need guidelines for designing, implementing, and sustaining professional well-being systems to mitigate the multitude of factors contributing to burnout. There are a number of gaps in the existing research literature, the committee found.

To address these concerns, the committee made six recommendations:

  1. Create positive work environments: Transform healthcare work systems by creating positive work environments that prevent and reduce burnout, foster professional well-being, and support quality care.
  1. Create positive learning environments: Transform health professions education and training to optimize learning environments that prevent and reduce burnout and foster professional well-being.
  1. Reduce administrative burden: Prevent and reduce the negative consequences on clinicians’ professional well-being that result from laws, regulations, policies, and standards promulgated by healthcare policy, regulatory, and standards-setting entities, including government agencies (federal, state, and local), professional organizations, and accreditors.
  1. Enable technology solutions: Optimize the use of health information technologies to support clinicians in providing high-quality patient care.
  1. Provide support to clinicians and learners: Reduce the stigma and eliminate the barriers associated with obtaining the support and services needed to prevent and alleviate burnout symptoms, facilitate recovery from burnout, and foster professional well-being among learners and practicing clinicians.
  1. Invest in research: Provide dedicated funding for research on clinician professional well-being.

The full report is available online.

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