Improving Health Care for Patients, Transforming the Industry for Providers


Researchers seek to increase transparency and diminish the added burdens on the workforce.

Researchers seek to increase transparency and diminish the added burdens on the workforce.

Better support for health care providers to reduce stress and prevent burnout was a key point of conversation during the opening keynote at US News & World Report’s third annual Hospital of Tomorrow forum in Washington, DC.

As the US health care system changes to prevent health care waste and improve quality for patients, physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and health care administrators are all suffering from the pressures of this change, said John Noseworthy, MD, president and CEO of the Mayo Clinic. He added that there is a shared responsibility from organizations, health care in general, and individuals for the burnout facing healthcare providers.

Research helps alleviate the impact of burnout, and Dr. Noseworthy explained that at Mayo, surveys and research found that there is a nearly linear correlation between the effectiveness of the leader and the status of the physician reporting to that leader.

He said health care is facing a “Dickens moment: best of times, worst of times.” While there is a lot of great change happening in the industry, which is working together like never before to bring about advances, increase transparency, and learn from one another, the added burdens on the workforce need to be addressed.

“The hospital of the future will not stand by itself if we have a burned out workforce,” Dr Noseworthy said.

Following his speech, he sat in a roundtable discussion with Nancy M. Schlichting, CEO of Henry Ford Health System, and Warner L. Thomas, president and CEO of Ochsner Health System. They continued the discussion on burnout and leadership and also touched upon health care quality, quality measurements, and caring for patients with complex medication conditions.

Schlichting explained that Henry Ford stresses the important of “taking care of the people who take care of people.” Her job is to create the type of environment where healthcare workers can continue to deliver extraordinary care, because she realizes it is difficult to balance everything. She pointed out that in many cases, healthcare providers are also caregivers at home to sick family members.

As the conversation moved onto quality and measurements, Thomas said that there needs to be intervention from government and the insurance industry to simplify the many quality measures currently out there. With more than 180 measures, it’s impossible to focus on all. Instead, he said, there needs to be something like 20-40 measures that are most critical and that have the most impact. And patients need to understand these measures.

“Transparency is incredibly important, but if you have so much information that is transparent that it’s confusing to the patient, then we’re really defeating the purpose,” he said.

Schlichting added that the industry is still trying to figure out which measures are the most important.

“We have a long way to go,” Schlichting said. “If you look at healthcare from a quality perspective, we are still in our infancy in terms of getting to high reliability levels of performance across our industry compared to other industries that really affect people’s lives the we do every day.”

Currently, a real challenge is recognizing quality and appropriate care for complex patients, said Dr. Noseworthy.

“There’s always going to be 20% of the patients that will be extraordinarily complex and have poor outcomes, and you can’t predict them all,” he said.

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