An academic article on the economic costs of physician burnout made news recently. In the article, (https://annals.org/aim/fullarticle/2734784/estimating-attributable-cost-physician-burnout-united-states) the authors looked at costs related to turnover and reduced productivity attributable to burnout. They comment that “our analysis is conservative, omitting other burnout-related costs that are difficult to quantify” such as lower patient satisfaction and reputational costs. Their results suggest a national cost of $4.6 billion and an organizational cost of $7,600 per employed physician each year due to burnout. The authors conclude: “together with previous evidence that burnout can effectively be reduced with moderate levels of investment, these findings suggest substantial economic value for policy and organizational expenditures for burnout reduction programs for physicians.”
The enormous financial cost of burnout is just one reason to address provider professionalism and wellness. Tait Shanafelt, MD, one of the leading experts on provider burnout, suggests that “four major drivers motivate health care leaders to build well-being programs: the moral-ethical case (caring for their people), the business case (cost of turnover and lower quality), the tragic case (a physician suicide), and the regulatory case (accreditation requirements)” (Academic Med 2019; 94(2):156-161). All of these drivers are important and need attention.
The Kaleida Health and ECMC Medical/Dental Staffs will continue to work closely with the UB, ECMC and Kaleida Health administrations to address this issue. Close partnerships between the Medical/Dental Staffs, Administrations and Boards of Great Lakes Health is essential to our ability to effectively improve provider well-being. On behalf of the Staff, I extend my thanks to the Board and Administration leaders for their support.
Peter Winkelstein, MD, MS, MBA, FAAP
Medical/Dental Staff President