There’s a lot of talk about addressing physician burnout, but little practical advice about what to do. The path to action lies first in understanding the many sources of burnout, and then separating them into those that we can impact, and those we cannot.

There’s a class of burnout factors that are intrinsic to being a physician. Simply put, it’s a hard job, and it’s demanding in both a physical and mental sense. But this is part of what they signed up for, and due to their passion and sense of purpose (as we discussed at length with Dr. Vivian Lee on Episode 143), most physicians are willing and able to work through them. That’s good because there’s little we in the tech/entrepreneur community can do to help.

The problems arise with the other class of burnout factors – the extrinsic variety. As a society, we have in many ways changed our deal with doctors over the past 10+ years. Under the guise of healthcare transformation, we have piled on to the existing stressors with paperwork, regulations, quality measures, reimbursement cuts, and more. These are burdens that physicians didn’t sign up for, and they are not supported by the same passions we mentioned earlier. The additional layers may be necessary to support our healthcare transformation goals at a systemic level, but they don’t always translate into better care for individual patients, and often undermine the patient/physician relationship. To a physician, this administrative burden feels unnecessary at best, and directly in conflict with their mission at worst. If we really do need these things, and we should confirm that regularly, then we also need to provide the tools and support to make them happen.

And that brings us to the point of this episode. Today, we’re sharing a discussion from the HealthIMPACT Live Summer Forum (July 22-24, 2020). In it, our co-host Shahid Shah discusses how to apply conversational AI to reduce physician burnout with Peter Durlach, SVP of Strategy and New Business Development at Nuance. As the setup would indicate, Shahid and Peter discuss the sources of physician burnout and help us to better understand where we in the tech/entrepreneur community should be focusing our efforts if we want to make an impact. Their discussion covers:

  • The sources of physician burnout
  • The difference between intrinsic and extrinsic stressors and why we should focus on the latter
  • How good conversational AI, or dictation, can cut the administrative time by half
  • How ambient conversations, where the AI listens in to the conversation as it happens, can take it to the next level
  • Why we should also be working on nurse burnout
  • How we can help before, during and after the patient visit
  • How the COVID-19 pandemic is accelerating decision making and innovation in healthcare (as discussed in Episode 137 – The Novation Dynamic: 3 Pillars for Healthcare Innovation Success with Michael Ackerman)
  • Specific advice for entrepreneurs looking to enter healthcare
  • The difference between health systems that get this right and those that spin their wheels

I’d like to thank our partners at Purpose Events for allowing us to share this content with you. They run the HealthIMPACT Live series, and our very own Shahid Shah is the HealthIMPACT Forum Chair. Shahid describes it as a “No BS and No PowerPoint” event that’s intended to be more of a conversation than a series of presentations. The goal is to get healthcare leaders together and facilitate a conversation amongst peers about the work they’re doing in the real world. Definitely fitting for a listener of this show.

Links and Resources


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