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Industry leadership survey finds slight drop in professionals’ burnout

Waltham, Massachusetts — Burnout among doctors, nurses and other hospital medical professional is an ongoing industry problem.


But according to a new survey by NEJM Catalyst, a new industry leadership forum hosted by the New England Journal of Medicine, the percentage of organizations labeling burnout a moderate or severe problem dropped slightly from levels reported in 2016 and 2017


Concerns around burnout have reached a point where major national medical organizations—including the Mayo Clinic, the American Medical Association and the Association of American Medical Colleges—recently endorsed a medical charter encouraging stakeholders at all levels to address burnout.


A majority of NEJM survey respondents said they felt organizations ought to be responsible for the bulk of improvements, including system and infrastructure changes.


As organizations look for solutions, the report points out that the drivers of burnout differ in certain ways among different hospital professionals.


Where physician burnout seems most often driven by issues that take away face-to-face time with patients, nurses report burnout “due to compassion fatigue, moral distress, and work environment issues such as psychological safety and hostility,” the authors write.


Not surprisingly, popular solutions among respondents involve improved records systems and administrative workflows to reduce clerical work and increase face time with patients.



AAMC chief blames Medicare cap for doc shortage

Washington, D.C. — The U.S. population is constantly growing. But for years now, the U.S. doctor population has not been proportionately growing with it—a concern drawing increasing attention as it becomes more acute.


Current data projects the U.S. doctor shortage will be between 42,000 and more than 121,000 by 2030.


Speaking to reporters about healthcare workforce challenges, Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) chief Darrell Kirch, M.D. said that Congress needs to pass a measure ending a longtime cap on Medicare funding for U.S. residencies, which has been frozen since 1997.


To address the projected shortfall, Kirch said, new medical schools were created and existing medical school programs expanded their class sizes which resulted in a 30 percent increase in medical school graduates since 2002. But that resulted in more people competing for a limited number of medical residencies rather than expanding the overall number of doctors.


According to Dr. Kirch, cap-ending legislation would create 15,000 new residencies between 2019 and 2023, half of which would be in specialties experiencing the most acute shortages.


Dr. Kirch’s commetns were made at the Association of Health Care Journalists’ April 12-15 conference in Phoenix.



Urgent care claims skyrocket; ER claims pale in contrast

New York, New York — According to two new reports by healthcare market analyst FAIR Health, private insurance claims for services provided in urgent care centers grew 1,725 percent between 2007 and 2016.


That was well above the growth rate of 229 percent for emergency-room claims during the same period.


FAIR Health’s Healthcare Indicators and Medical Price Index also found large differences in charges depending on location. While a new-patient visit at a retail clinic averaged $109, the same patient visit would average $242 at an urgent care center and $294 at a doctor’s office visit.


FAIR Health pointed to a huge increase in alternative places of service, including retail clinics, urgent care centers, telehealth and ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs). However, the growth in urgent care centers, retail clinics and telehealth skyrocketed the most.


The data underscores the growing trend by payers to push more care to less-pricey while still medically appropriate settings rather than to more-expensive ERs.



Study: Majority of C. diff hospital infections spread by asymptomatic carriers

Toronto, Ontario — York University researchers determined that hospital-patient infections with the Clostridium Difficile (C. diff) bacterium depend heavily on patients carrying the bugs before developing any symptoms, or not developing any at all.


According to the research, published in a recent study in BMC Infectious Diseases, C.diff infections can develop rapidly even under the watchful eye of hospital staff. In fact, it is often spread in health care facilitates or nursing homes due to proximity of the bacteria.


The study makes the case that C. diff transmission in hospitals can be drastically cut down by screening patients for highest likelihood to be silently carrying the bugs without symptoms.