The Real Costs of Provider Burnout and How to Lower Them

APRIL 18, 2016
Clark Gaither, MD
Physicians, hospitals and large provider groups are beginning to understand the high costs of physician burnout. The direct costs are exorbitant. The indirect costs are more difficult to calculate but may be even higher. Cost conscious organizations must buy into this simple truth — success and financial strength requires happy and engaged providers.

High provider turnover rates are extremely costly. There are both direct and indirect costs which must be considered.
Direct costs of provider replacement include recruitment costs, sign-on bonuses, moving expenses, workplace training, lost revenue waiting for provider numbers and licensing, printing of support materials, advertising, and many others. Presently, it costs $150,000 to one million dollars to replace just one provider depending on the specialty required.
The indirect costs of provider burnout result from:
  • Decreased efficiencies
  • Increased patient complaints
  • Increased employee complaints
  • Increase in errors and omissions
  • Lost revenue due to increased absenteeism
  • Complaints of hostile work environment
  • Increase in the number of lawsuits
  • Increased support staff turnover
  • Bad reputation and PR
The direct causes of burnout are mismatches between the provider and the work environment. There are six major mismatches:
  • Work Overload
  • Lack of Control
  • Insufficient Reward
  • Breakdown of Community
  • Absence of Fairness
  • Conflicting Values
These have grown in scope, frequency and intensity over the past 30 years or more have led to the current epidemic of physician burnout. Immediate and ongoing steps should be taken to eliminate or dilute the effects of these six major mismatches. There are a number of reasons why this is imperative.

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