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Two doctor's working with their patient, avoiding Physician burnout.

Monthly Healthcare Buzz…

 

Scientists explore the possibilities of powering pacemakers and other implantable devices with energy generated from the human body. The motions made while breathing can generate 0.83 watts of power, while a pacemaker needs just 50 millionth of a watt to last for seven years. They also study the possibilities of body heat energy, blood and sweat energy, and dissolvable materials.

Researchers find two herpes viruses, common in young children, in brains affected by Alzheimer’s Disease. Levels of HHV-6 and HHV-7 herpes viruses were up to twice as high in brain tissue from people with Alzheimer’s compared with healthy brain tissue. However, the study does not show a direct causal role.

The FDA approved the first generic versions of Suboxone (buprenorphine and naloxone) for opioid dependence treatment. The generic drugs are aimed at making treatment more accessible.

Retailers begin experimenting with blue lights to deter drug users from injecting in their places of business. Some businesses are seeing promising results as the blue light makes it more difficult to locate a vein to inject a needle.

Doctors are concerned about the possible long-term affects on children’s brains of the stress of separation from their parents as a result of the “zero-tolerance” immigration policy. Scientists believe that persistent stress, or toxic stress, can lead to later heart disease, diabetes, and other health problems, especially when there is no nurturing parent to help the child cope.

Time for the Quadruple Aim?

In 2007 the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) developed the Triple Aim framework. This initiative was designed to aid healthcare organizations improve the health of populations and an individual patient’s experience, while also reducing, or at least controlling, per capita cost of care. The goals of the Triple Aim have been widely accepted in the healthcare industry, but is it time to incorporate a fourth objective?

A Quadruple Aim Chart focused on preventing Physician burnout.

Healthcare providers experiencing burnout can impede patient-centered care and hinder progress towards achieving the Triple Aim. According to a study by the Mayo Clinic, physician burnout and satisfaction in the U.S. have worsened from 2011 to 2014.

  • Physicians experiencing at least one symptom of burnout increased from 45.5% to 54.4% (2011-2014).
  • Work-life balance satisfaction decreased from 48.5% to 40.9% (2011-2014).
  • Depression rates were 39.8% (2014).

When physicians suffer a burnout their patient’s care can also suffer; the chances for medical errors increase and quality of care decreases. Patients with dissatisfied physicians are less likely to adhere to their care plans, which can lead to health complications and increased expenditures. It may be time to shift from the Triple Aim to a Quadruple Aim, incorporating staff and provider satisfaction.

Staff engagement and retention are the missing parts of the equation. By taking better care of physicians, they can, in turn, provide better care to their patients. The Annals of Family Medicine suggest some practical steps to address the fourth aim.

  • Use pre-visit planning and laboratory testing to cut wasted time on reviews and follow-ups.
  • Incorporate team documentation: assisting staff, present during patient visits, can enter some or all documentation.
  • Ensure staff accepting new responsibilities are well trained and understand their importance in providing patient care.
  • Standardize workflows for refilling prescriptions.

High levels of organization coordination and commitment are needed to achieve the Quadruple Aim; it is not an easy task. If your team is experiencing burnout it may be time to invest in new software to make their jobs easier and increase work satisfaction. Intelligent, streamlined software could actually decrease the time spent in front of a screen and put physicians back where they want to be: face-to-face with their patients.