Reviewing KLAS Findings on Burnout - Cover

Reviewing KLAS Findings on Burnout

Burnout continues to plague the healthcare industry, with the CDC finding late last year that the problem is still growing. Since 2018, the KLAS Arch Collaborative has researched burnout as it relates to the EHR. Ahead of a new report covering trends in physician and nurse burnout, I’m reviewing some of KLAS’ most relevant learnings on burnout and ways organizations can effectively reduce it.

KLAS publishes research on burnout and technological factors as we learn more about its impact. In November 2022, KLAS published the Provider Burnout and the EHR experience report. Along with statistical insights, the report also focuses on findings showing what organizations can do to combat burnout based on data from 181 unique provider organizations.

A Review of Burnout Rates and Factors

The 2022 report focuses on the experience of physicians, residents, fellows, and advanced practice providers. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the data shows that the rate of burnout was still high during this post-pandemic era. The year 2021 saw a large spike in the number of providers reporting at least some level of burnout to KLAS; but in 2022, the rates plateaued, holding steady at 34%.

Findings also show that providers that report higher degrees of burnout are also more likely to report a higher number of burnout contributors. Interestingly, the report shows that most of the measured contributors to burnout became less prevalent in 2022 than they were at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Of the contributors, staffing shortages, then a relatively new factor, started to rise.

KLAS has continued to monitor these contributors, and staffing shortages now top the list for both physicians and nurses, as you’ll see in more detail in the upcoming report.

Recommendations for Reducing Burnout

There are some consistent ways to help reduce provider burnout that KLAS finds. One method that Tommy Rowley, a KLAS Insight Director, frequently talks to healthcare organizations about is to build trust in the organization’s leadership and IT team. He says, “Two of the most effective main factors for reducing burnout are whether people feel that they’re spending less time after hours on documentation and whether they feel strong trust and support from their IT leadership.”

This is confirmed in the below chart from 2022, which shows that when providers agree that their organization delivers well around their EHR, that higher trust in IT team in these areas is tied to providers being 16 percentage points less likely to feel burned out. Even when looking at providers who are spending more after-hours time documenting in the EHR, if the providers trust their leadership and IT team, that is still correlated with lower burnout. But when an organization has both factors, it makes a real difference. Providers who spend less than 5 hours per week charting after hours who also have trust in their leadership and IT team are 19 percentage points less burned out than other providers.  

percent of providers reporting some amount of burnout by amount of time spent in ehr after hours and by trust in it

Burnout Prevention Programs

The last finding I’ll share here is on the effectiveness of burnout prevention programs. When healthcare organizations had a program that specifically addresses burnout, participants saw significant improvement from a variety of programs. Some of the most helpful programs included peer support, department-based programs, Chaplain support, and practitioner health and wellness programs.

Getting an Update

For more information on clinician wellness and reducing burnout, I recommend visiting this Arch Collaborative Learning Center page focused on the topic. There you will find all the reports KLAS has published surrounding burnout and more.

You’ll also find a more recent report titled Understanding Your Risk for Physician Turnover 2023, focused on turnover at healthcare organizations. While not a burnout report, some of the findings on employee retention could be useful in the burnout discussion.

Finally, keep an eye out for the new report, Trends in Physician & Nurse Burnout 2024, for more details on the latest trends KLAS is seeing with healthcare burnout.

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