A survey of the 25 largest groups in the CMS membership
Featured in the July-August 2019 Colorado Medicine Colorado Medicine.
The Colorado Medical Society reached out to 25 of the largest organizations in the CMS database – 50 percent of which represented specialists, 28 percent multi-specialty groups and 27 percent primary care – to find out what different groups are doing to enhance physician wellbeing and address burnout. Interviews were conducted by phone and included a short battery of questions. Interviewers asked to speak to the group’s top wellness officer, if they had one, or the chief medical officer.
The interviews revealed significant awareness of physician wellbeing as a priority, with 88 percent reporting some sort of individual practice program in place or in development to be in place in the next year. There was significant variability in the structure of the programs, many of which seemed to evolve to meet the distinct needs of each practice.
A near-unanimous supermajority of 96 percent of the groups interviewed reported interest in a wellness summit. Those who elaborated on their answer wanted to learn from other organizations and share ways to improve.
Several specifically praised CMS for suggesting the idea, including one that said, “I commend CMS for taking the bull by the horns. The more we explore together, the better course we can set.”
*Some questions received fewer than 25 responses; some received more than 25.
1. Has the board of directors of your practice made physician wellbeing a priority?
Twelve (48%) of the practices answered a definite yes and have a program.
Five (20%) answered a definite no.
Five (20%) reported a version of “sort of” and reported having partial programs.
Three (12%) reported not now but they have plans to start a program in the next year.
2. Does your program include:
a) Personal wellness:
Sixteen (64%) report that their practice does have some sort of personal wellness program. This number includes both practice-sponsored wellness programs and individual employee-sponsored activities.
Nine (36%) report that their practice does not have a personal wellness program.
b) Organizational measures to reduce burnout (listening to physicians and addressing their concerns, such as with work flow or clinical support):
Nineteen (83%) report that their practice does have some sort of organizational wellness program. Most center around administrative simplification, help with technology and systems flow. Some answered this question interchangeably with the question on third party interference.
Four (17%) report that their practice does not have an organizational wellness program.
c)Third party interference, such as dealing with health plan prior authorization programs or other third-party interference whether from the commercial or governmental side?
Ten (48%) report that their practice does have some sort of wellness program that addresses third-party interference.
Eleven (52%) report that their practice does not have a wellness program that addresses third-party interference.
3.CMS is having discussions about holding a one-day summit on physician wellbeing. The summit would primarily include individuals who are responsible for addressing physician burnout and promoting wellbeing at the practice or system level. If CMS held this summit:
a) What topics and issues would be helpful to you and your group?
Personal wellness: Eight (27.5%)
Physician burnout: Four (14%)
Organizational wellness: Seven (24%)
Third-party issues: Four (14%)
General: Six (20.5%)
b) Would you find it helpful to learn what other practices are doing to address physician burnout and to enhance professional satisfaction?
Yes: Twenty-two (92%)
No: One (4%)
Maybe: One (4%)
c) Would it be helpful to you to be connected to a network of physicians in Colorado who are responsible within their system or practice for assessing burnout and putting measures in place to increase physician wellbeing?
Yes: Sixteen (66.7%)
Probably or maybe: Eight (33.3%)
No: Zero (0.0%)
The notable subtext behind most of “probably or maybe” answers centered around the quality of the content and the amount of time it would take.
d) Is there anything else you would like to tell us, either about the idea of a wellbeing summit or advice to the CMS Committee on Wellbeing?
Those who answered this open-ended question shared the distinction of not providing one duplicate answer. Additional ideas given include inviting rank and file physicians; addressing culture change; reducing governmental administrative burden; providing usable tools for small practice; addressing documentation overload; sharing real stories; suicide prevention; addressing dysfunctional behavior; addressing distrust between facilities and physicians; including a job description for a wellness officer; including CHA and being able to use A/V tools.
4. What is the likelihood that you would attend a wellbeing summit for physicians in Colorado who are responsible for wellness in their group?
Yes: Twenty-three (96%) reported they or someone from their practice would attend.
No: One (4%) reported that nobody from their practice would attend.
CMS board approves “uniquely Colorado” physician wellbeing project
At their May 17 meeting, the CMS board of directors approved a project recommended by the Committee on Physician Wellbeing that will include:
- A day-long convening for physicians from different systems and practices who are responsible within their system or practice for assessing burnout and enhancing physician wellbeing and professional satisfaction;
- Keeping the convening participants connected virtually for a 12-month period for the purpose of an ongoing learning and sharing collaborative;
- Contracting with a qualified expert in the field of wellbeing to monitor and moderate the virtual platform;
- Conducting a thorough evaluation at the end of the period detailing lessons learned, impacts, spread, value to CMS and other partners, and opportunities for the future; and
- Pursuing funding and grants from other sponsors in addition to general CMS support.
The convening will likely take place in 2020. Look for more details as they are available.