Understanding and fixing the daily frustrations

Mission Health, a large integrated health system located in North Carolina, is working to improve clinician well-being in several ways.

To educate leaders about the realities of daily life as a clinician, the organization began an initiative called Immersion Day in 2013. Senior executives and board members are invited to shadow a clinician for a day. They sign privacy agreements, don scrubs, and follow a doctor or nurse to the operating room, the intensive care unit, an outpatient clinic or the emergency department. They get a first-hand look at the challenges of current-day patient care.

Based on their deepened understanding of the frustrations of the electronic health record (EHR), the board subsequently approved a large-scale well-being initiative designed to increase joy and reduce hassles in clinicians' daily work. It includes hands-on information-technology consulting to identify and fix inefficiencies and time sinks. The health system recently added peer-to-peer EHR coaching to provide support and share tips within the clinician’s work environment.

Mission Health has also taken steps to solicit input from front-line clinicians and ensure that issues reach top leaders. For example, the CEO, Ron Paulus, M.D., learned that for many years nurses had been frustrated by the fact that every time they interviewed for positions in other clinical units within the health system, they were required to take personality assessments—regardless of how many they had previously completed. Once the executive became aware of the situation, he was able to institute a policy change within two weeks that resolved the problem. Once the complaint made its way up the chain of command, a decision-maker could address the issue. 

Return to Up Front article on clinician burnout

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