The AAFP Attacks Burnout with Fluff

Thank goodness for the AAFP Leadership Conference (combined Annual Chapter Leader Forum and National Conference of Constituency Leaders) because they have offered answers on physician burnout and how to transform it into well-being.  One of the speakers there, Paul DeChant, who is former CEO of the Sutter Gould Medical Foundation — a 300-physician multispecialty medical group in California’s Central Valley — and co-author of Preventing Physician Burnout: Curing the Chaos and Returning Joy to the Practice of Medicine, states the solution “could lie in the concept of lean transformation”.

Ah, yes, the old “lean transformation” trick. There is more:

Although many associate lean transformation with manufacturing and productivity, DeChant said the concept’s principles actually focus on respecting people (including the clinical care team), maximizing value for customers (in this case, patients) and minimizing waste.

You see, it’s easy!  And it’s the doctors’ fault for not respecting the team or not maximizing value for patients or not minimizing waste.  Wait….what?

(make sure you sign up for our weekly newsletter for reminders and extra insights/columns)

Physician leaders, DeChant noted, can help if they “go where the work is being done and learn it.” This could mean anything from shadowing other physicians to learning how to schedule patient appointments by working with staff. By doing so, administrators can humbly learn how others do their jobs, what their challenges are and what those individuals think could be done to improve things. This “undercover boss” approach also builds trust with employees, he said.

Who wouldn’t want an administrator with them all day?

Not to be outdone, AAFP Senior Vice President for Education Clif Knight, M.D., presented a breakout session that highlighted the Academy’s long-term plan to dig deep, engage and help family physicians regain a sense of well-being, happiness and professional satisfaction.  Here is the plan:

An extensive initiative dubbed Physician Health First is set to launch in coming months. In fact, a number of resources related to the initiative already are in the works, including, but not limited to,

  • planning of the AAFP’s first health and well-being conference, scheduled for mid-April 2018;

  • work on a chapter workshop series in 2018;

  • expansion of related CME tracks and workshops at the 2017 Family Medicine Experience to be held Sept. 12-16 in San Antonio;

  • ongoing publication of timely and informative journal articles on topics related to physician well-being;

  • creation of an enhanced well-being portal on the Academy’s website;

  • development of a web-based well-being planning tool; and

  • offering access to the Maslach Burnout Inventory(

Does anyone believe that any of this will work?  It sure seems like the answer is changing the system and not the doctors but what do I know?

The only doctors that I see being happy are Direct Primary Care doctors.  They have removed the middlemen including administrators.  They do not code.  They see 8 patients a day.  Patients love it. Doctors love it.  Satisfaction for both parties is extremely high.

And no mention at all in this article of DPC by the AAFP.  That blindspot is so sad.

(make sure you sign up for our weekly newsletter for reminders and extra insights/columns)
99480cookie-checkThe AAFP Attacks Burnout with Fluff