Mayo Clinic, which has a 150-year history as a medical practice, now operates 22 hospitals and draws patients with complex needs from all over the world to its 1,243-bed flagship facility in Rochester, Minn. The organization has also garnered praise for insulating clinical decisions from financial incentives by paying physicians under a salary model with no productivity bonuses.
But even though Mayo is built to let doctors be doctors and has been ahead of the curve in studying how to measure and reward value in healthcare delivery, it isn't immune to challenges such as physician burnout and the mounting pressure to reduce costs and adopt value-based payment models.
Bob Herman, Modern Healthcare's Midwest bureau chief, interviewed Mayo President and CEO Dr. John Noseworthy while he was in Chicago as co-chair of a consortium of 12 health system CEOs convened with the American Medical Association to address physician burnout. The following is an edited excerpt.
Modern Healthcare: What are some of the main causes of physician burnout and how are you rectifying them?
Dr. John Noseworthy: Physicians who work by themselves and don't have a team to support them are struggling in this environment where there is so much paperwork, clerical burden, the electronic health record, all the regulations, computer-facilitated order entry—all of those basically drain the joy from the physician's work. A recent study showed that for every hour physicians spend with patients, they are spending two hours on the computer, and that's just not what they feel medicine should be about.
MH: And one of the things you've done is as simple as reimbursing for meals to bring people together to talk?
Noseworthy: It's an interesting bit of research, and it was studied in two large clinical trials. If a doctor says, “Give me an hour a week to do with what I wish” or “assign me to go to lunch with eight of my friends to have some time together”—the same amount of time—they both came out of that with more joy in work. But the only one that really stuck and had persistent benefit was the camaraderie that was built up through the lunches. So, we now have 1,100 physicians who go out in small groups on a monthly basis, and Mayo pays for their lunch.