Physician burnout poses a major threat to health systems and public health overall, calling for an ever-growing need to better define—and solve—the problems that lead to such widespread rates of stress and exhaustion among healthcare providers.
The triple aim of healthcare, as defined by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, is to optimize patient care and satisfaction, increase positive health outcomes, and reduce per capita healthcare costs. Physician burnout, however, has been associated with the antithesis of all three aims: reduced quality of care, worse overall health outcomes, and increased costs.
Some doctors are now calling for the triple aim to evolve into the quadruple aim, with physician satisfaction and mental health being a critical factor for achieving success in all other major objectives. Figuring out how to better prevent and address physician burnout is a problem best tackled from the top down, and it all begins with a better understanding of the scope of the issue and its effects on the larger system.