Over the past few months, Progress Notes has included several articles on professional satisfaction and physician burnout. We have sponsored several forums, where many of you have offered insights into the problem.
This is a national concern that has been reported in both our professional journals and the lay press. While a myriad of reasons has been offered, no panacea has been found, perhaps in part because the professional dissatisfactions can be very individual. As professionals, we expect to have meaningful work, make a difference and be treated fairly. RVUs cannot capture the skill and depth necessary to relieve patients’ suffering. The provider line of sight for population health initiatives is far less clear than that for individual patients.
Over 40 LG Health providers participated in focus groups this summer and shared some of the barriers and concerns about our work. Many requested email communication be filtered and targeted to the appropriate individuals in an attempt to reduce the overall volume and allow more time for patient care. Some expressed a desire to hear more about our colleagues’ interests and passions beyond the professional environment to build connections across the Medical Staff. We were pleased to hear the articles in Progress Notes highlighting those activities are very popular. The interest underscored a desire from nearly all for more collegiality across the system. Finally, most providers asked for more clarity on LG Health’s relationship with Penn Medicine and how it would impact clinical activities. That relationship dynamic has added to the already rapidly changing healthcare environment.
Jeff Klunk, licensed psychologist, and Adam Wilikofsky, Ph.D., licensed clinical psychologist, lead a coaching group designed to help LG Health providers make stronger connections with their patients. Nearly 50 providers have completed the program. Preliminary reports have been very promising and underscore the individuality within the provider community. Self-reflection and insights into strengths and weaknesses have led to targeted skills designed to improve the physician-patient relationship from both sides of the exam table. Frequently encountered barriers include role clarity within the care delivery team, dealing with inappropriate care requests for testing/analgesics, and finally, time and emotional energy to empathize with the patient experience. Adoption of targeted skills and behaviors has made a difference. Interestingly, after the coaching, both professional and patient satisfaction evaluations improved. This is not something we would have predicted. Kudos for meaningful work well done.
Many LG Health Med Staff providers will soon receive a survey featuring questions on quality, safety and professional satisfaction. Please take some time to complete the survey and share your thoughts on barriers and how we can help. I hope your comments will assist us in providing a much more satisfying professional and collegial environment.
Thank you for your time and help.
Lee M. Duke II, M.D.
Chief Physician Executive
Progress Notes' Editor-in-Chief