Reviews and Perspectives with Hobart Lee: The Cost of Burnout
Hobart Lee, MD, and Heidi James, MD
Hoby and Heidi discuss a 2019 article in the Annals of Internal Medicine that covers the dollar cost of physician burnout. Burnout is a real concern in US healthcare: 54% of physicians reported burnout in 2014 and >300 physicians die by suicide each year.
- Yearly costs related to physician turnover and decreased clinical hours total $4.6 billion.
- Physician turnover costs > cost of physicians working fewer hours in their current positions
- Greater cost in <55-year-old age group
- Primary care–specific info:
- Burnout prevalence = 49%-62%
- 26%-39% of doctors looking to reduce the amount they work
- Average desired reduction = 11-13 hours/week
- Replacement costs of a primary care physician = $110K
- Anecdotally, younger doctors looking for <1.0 full-time equivalent (FTE) positions
- Total burnout costs = $5900 to $7100 per primary care physician per year
- How can we invest that money in ways to prevent burnout and turnover?
- Hoby highlights successful programs:
- State of Oregon Wellness Program for Health Professionals
- Southern California Permanente Group
- American Medical Association resources
- Hopefully, these financial numbers will provide impetus to change the culture that fosters this burnout pandemic.
Beyond the economics of burnout
Ellison EM. Ann Intern Med. 2019;170:807-808. doi: 10.7326/M19-1191. https://www.acpjournals.org/doi/10.7326/M19-1191