On October 26, 2017, clinicians, researchers and investigators met for the annual NYC RING (New York City Research and Improvement Networking Group) conference at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine Department of Family and Social Medicine. The conference focused on sharing practice-based research and quality improvement activities, but the centerpiece was the message of the keynote speaker, Dr. Christine Sinsky, who focused on the importance of ensuring “Joy in Work” to prevent burnout.

According to Sinsky, Vice President of Professional Satisfaction at the American Medical Association, 54% of primary care providers are burned out, and the electronic health record (EHR) contributes to this statistic. “Health care providers can sometimes feel like clerical workers,” she said. Metrics, such as percentage of EHR “clicks” occurring on the weekend (the “Pajama-Time Metric”) can be used to capture the late-night documentation practices of physicians. Physician turnover, due to burnout, is expensive for healthcare systems.

Dr. Sinsky’s team developed a “Joy in Work” survey, called the Mini-Z, used nationally by multiple health systems to monitor an organization’s staff burnout. Innovative organizations have even tied senior leadership’s compensation to its staff’s level of “joy in work” to incentivize avoiding burnout and to promote a culture of wellness.

MHVC was well-represented at the conference with four posters detailing work about 1) leveraging community partnerships to address social determinants of health in the emergency department (ED); 2) behavioral health organizational readiness for tobacco cessation efforts; 3) reducing behavioral health ED admissions; and 4) combating the opioid epidemic through real-time data tracking and reporting.

Additionally, Sinsky identified several strategies for avoiding provider burnout and increasing Joy in Work, including planning ahead, distributing the work so all team members work at the top of their licenses, and ensuring streamlined communication between team members. Specific strategies are available here. Many of our MHVC partners have expressed interest in creating Joy in Work metrics. If you have stories to share, please contact Kathleen McAuliff at kathleen.mcauliff@einstein.yu.edu.

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