Reversing Physician Burnout While Increasing Physician Trust in Value-Based Care

February 21, 2018
Heather Lavoie

There are small but significant steps all of us who work in healthcare can take to stop physician burnout and better engage physicians in value-based care.

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Throughout 2017, we saw some sobering statistics about physician sentiment towards value-based care:

• Nearly 75 percent of physicians say they prefer the fee-for-service model over pay-for-performance and capitation due to concerns about value-based care’s complexity and quality implications
• 53 percent of physicians say capitation reduces the quality of care
• More than 60 percent of physicians say it will be more difficult to deliver high-quality care in the next two years due to administrative burden, regulations and EHR frustration
Only 43 percent of physicians feel they have the tools needed to succeed in value-based care
• Despite widespread agreement that alignment is critical to value-based care success, less than half of physicians (47 percent) say progress towards alignment has been made

At the same time, the healthcare industry is grappling with epidemic and escalating levels of physician burnout, an issue that’s only recently begun to receive the focus it rightfully needs and deserves.

Payer provider alignment and collaboration leads to value-based care success.

At Geneia, we know the ability to replicate the early wins of value-based care to reduce costs and improve quality and patient health and ultimately the model’s long-term success in achieving the Triple Aim lies in much greater alignment of and collaboration among payers and providers. That’s why we spent much of 2017 talking and writing about payer provider convergence, and plan to do so even more this year.

Addressing physician reservations about value-based care, likely in large part due to a hangover from the HMOs of the 1990s, is a complicated problem, as is reversing physician burnout. That said, we believe there are significant steps health plans can take to increase physician faith and trust in the pillars of value-based care.

Physicians are a highly-valued, limited resource.

It begins with understanding, appreciating and articulating the unique and vital role physicians have in patient care and, just as importantly, in achieving the Triple Aim. In 2017, we published a blog about our work to stop physician burnout, and in it, I stated Geneia’s beliefs about physicians, which are:

• Physicians are a highly-valued, limited resource;
• The central tenant to design of workflows and tasks that involve physicians must be to minimize the overall effort expended by physicians;
• To the greatest extent possible, everything that can be done by someone other than a physician, in fact, should be;
• That other administrative and care team members are perfectly equipped, if given the right information and tools, to identify risk, coordinate care, manage open care opportunities, close care and coding gaps, motivate and engage patients, and perform recordkeeping to maximize a return on quality, cost and revenue; and
• We must reserve physicians’ time for improving the patient relationship, diagnosis and treatment.

Having worked with health plans for much of my career, I know many of them have similar feelings; they are interested in helping to reverse physician burnout and create the kind of collaboration that allows physicians to not only succeed in value-based care arrangements but also rediscover the Joy of Medicine.

Recently I had the privilege of working with some of Geneia’s payer clients who are invested in the success and well-being of their network physicians. They not only give their network providers a proven analytics platform that is shared and used by health plan staff and value-based care physicians, but the savviest of them actively involved providers in the selection of the tool. These plans found that involving network physicians throughout the selection process has helped to build trust and greater technology adoption, important building blocks to the kind of alignment and collaboration needed for sustained value-based care success.

Undoubtedly, there is much more the healthcare industry can and should do to appropriately value physicians and help reverse physician burnout. Nevertheless I find it encouraging to know there are small but significant steps that all of us who work in the healthcare industry can take to help.

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