Canadian Medical Association

Investing in physician health has a positive impact in many areas. It improves system outcomes and patient care, and also addresses other issues such as physician turnover and related costs, productivity, and organizational risk. 

Recent research demonstrates that investment in physician health and wellness not only protects physicians but also safeguards patients and the health care system itself.

These investments also help counter the toll of burnout. While the exact impacts of burnout are still being researched and are not yet fully understood, it has been estimated to cost the US health care system around US$4.6 billion per year and the Canadian system around C$213.1 million. These costs are primarily associated with lost productivity due to early retirement and/or reduced clinical hours.

Healthy physicians are good for the economy

The Canadian Institute for Health Information reported that physicians contributed C$1.8 billion to Canada’s GDP in 2017 (representing 15.1% of all health care spending). Most of that was spent on taxes, rent, staff salaries and equipment. Further to this, a recent Conference Board of Canada study reported that Canadian physicians directly provided 167,000 jobs to Canadians, and their offices contributed C$39.5 billion to the country’s GDP in 2019. Investing in and protecting the health and wellness of physicians means this economic impact can continue. 

Make the case for investing in physician health

An article by Shanafelt and colleagues (2017) offers a strong business case for addressing physician burnout. This resource offers a variety of tools to help you make your case, including:

  • Formulas to calculate the financial return on investment of reducing physician burnout 
  • Worksheets for calculating the costs and risks of burnout as well as its contribution to early retirement and reduced clinical hours
  • Evidence-based strategies your organization can adopt to address physician burnout 
  • A guide on how to prioritize leadership, physician involvement, organizational learning, metrics, structured interventions and open communication

Note: there is a fee to access this article (buy or rent a read-only copy here)

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