- A new analysis finds a direct link between clinicians’ job satisfaction and solvable work conditions, and suggests this could be an important metric for clinical practices and provider groups.
- The researchers looked at baseline and 12-month follow-up data from 146 physicians and 22 advance practice providers in the Healthy Workplace Trial to see if there was a connection between clinician satisfaction and remediable work conditions.
- Roughly three-fourths (74%) of clinicians were happy with their job at baseline. While just 16% of those felt more satisfied one year later, those who did were nearly three times more likely to report less burnout and more than eight times as likely to have reduced plans of leaving their practice versus clinicians whose satisfaction didn't grow. The report was published Monday in Health Affairs.
To assess workplace satisfaction, the researchers looked for certain clues, such as how stress, burnout and thoughts of leaving play into the equation and which structural and cultural factors are related to satisfaction.
“In this prospective study of 168 clinicians in thirty-four medical practices, we found that job satisfaction (joy in practice) was associated with both structural and cultural aspects of the work environment: slower paced, less chaotic environments were far more satisfying, as were practices with cohesion, good communication, high clinician trust in the organization, and high alignment of values between clinicians and leaders,” the researchers write.
While this analysis found no link between increased satisfaction and better patient outcomes, other studies have shown that physician burnout can contribute to medical errors, they note.
The findings also suggest another benefit of keeping clinicians happy. While it may require financial resources to make workplace improvements, the investment may pay for itself. It can cost from $250,000 upwards to $500,000 to replace a primary care clinician.
The trend toward workflow redesign to reduce stress and improve clinician satisfaction should be continued, the researchers conclude.
Workplace satisfaction is an increasing concern as clinicians grapple with increasing regulation, EHRs and value-based payment models. According to a study published last month in the Annals of Family Medicine, primary care doctors spend more than half their workday on EHR tasks — 4.5 hours during clinic hours and another 1.4 hours after hours. The finding echoes other recent studies linking EHR and administrative tasks to physician burnout.
In February, UPMC and Microsoft launched Healthcare NeXT to develop and pilot new healthcare solutions for patients and providers using Microsoft’s expertise in artificial intelligence tools and cloud computing. A recent report by Nuance Communications and Becker’s Hospital Review suggests AI can have a positive impact on physician workloads and increase job satisfaction by reducing administrative burdens.
Dr. Rasu Shrestha, UPMC chief innovation officer and executive vice president of UPMC enterprises, the institution’s commercialization arm, told Healthcare Dive at the time that AI tools have allowed clinicians to increase their focus on the patient. “This person-centered approach to care is really critical because we believe that’s the best way to drive costs down and improve the quality of care,” he said.