Dr Kathleen Blake Discusses the Impact Healthcare Industry Changes Have on Burnout

Recent changes in the healthcare industry can both contribute to and exacerbate clinician burnout, but can also improve the situation, said Kathleen Blake, MD, MPH, vice president for Performance Improvement at the American Medical Association.

How might recent changes in the health industry—such as value-based payment models and new technologies—exacerbate burnout?
They can exacerbate it, they can also improve it. And I think that that’s true for a lot of the transformational trends going on in healthcare today. The exacerbation, I think, we can point very clearly to the introduction of electronic health records (EHRs) systems that were designed to meet regulatory requirements, but really did not focus as much as they should have on usability, on the EHR function being imbedded into the workflow of clinicians. The second way is that, again, through regulation, there have been a lot of restrictions on how much care can be provided by other members of the care team. Members other than the physician. We’re starting to see some improvements in those areas.

And if you think about alternative payment models, alternative payment models require creativity, adaptability, data, and a commitment. When you already have limited bandwidth, in terms of time, energy, enthusiasm, it’s hard to proceed with an alternative payment model. So, what we would envision is if we can tackle some of the causes of burnout, we will see some of that natural creativity reemerge.
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