How Chief Wellness Officers can establish two-way communication | Wbactive

In a culture that contributes to burnout and a loss of enjoyment of medicine, a Chief Wellness Officer (CWO) can help an organization systematically improve the well-being of physicians and other healthcare professionals.

After a CWO has assembled a team, defined a mission, developed a strategy to achieve it, and formed partnerships with other leaders in the organization, the CWO needs to make public what they are doing and have an opportunity to receive feedback from others in the organization receive. An AMA STEPS forward® Toolkit helps CWOs do just that and more.

“Develop a Two-Way Communications Strategy” is the seventh step of the Chief Wellness Officer Road Map toolkit, which outlines a nine-step approach that CWOs can follow to implement a leadership strategy for professional wellbeing.

“Physicians need to know what their organizational leaders are doing for professional well-being, and they need to have a voice in that effort,” the toolkit authors write.

Here’s how Chief Wellness Officers can establish two-way communication about professional wellness efforts, and an example of how one clinic was successful.

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CWOs and their team must find ways to provide physicians with up-to-date information on well-being efforts. Some ways Chief Wellness Officers can communicate are:

  • Newsletter.
  • emails.
  • Short video reports.
  • Guest lectures at department meetings.

In addition to finding a way to communicate what the organization is doing to improve wellbeing, it is important to create opportunities for physicians throughout the healthcare system or clinic to share their feedback with the CWO and other organizational leaders.

Some ways to do this include:

  • listening sessions.
  • focus groups.
  • Electronic suggestion boxes (see AMA STEPS Forward Getting Rid of Stupid Stuff Toolkit).
  • Periodic Polls.
  • Opportunities for physicians to collaborate on department-wide or organization-wide thematic initiatives.

Harvard Medical Faculty physicians at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston offer an example of how a group of physicians have opened a channel to share their thoughts on leadership wellbeing, said Christine Sinsky, MD, vice president of career satisfaction at the AMA who co-wrote the toolkit.

AMA member Alexa Kimball, MD, President and CEO of Harvard Medical Faculty, and her executive team received feedback from their physicians by surveying them about burnout. Taking into account 20 projects to improve well-being, the survey asked physicians to rank their top 12 projects.

The team of dr. Kimball selected his projects based on the responses and completed 11 of the 12 projects within a year. They continued to work on the last project after this time frame. Projects have included reducing EHR clicks, expanding childcare and family resources, and automatically inserting ICD-10 billing codes into order, note, and issue lists.

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Throughout the year, Dr. Kimball and her team provide physicians with progress reports on each of the well-being initiatives. A survey 18 months later showed that burnout was lower than before the initiatives.

“The two-way communication—physicians telling leadership what they need most, and leadership keeping physicians updated on the progress of work on those top priorities—was critical to the success of this overall initiative,” said Dr. Sinsky.

Learn more about how to get started with the Establishing a Chief Wellness Officer Position toolkit in your organization.

The AMA is committed to making physician burnout a thing of the past and is currently addressing issues that cause and promote physician burnout—including time constraints, technology, and regulation—to better understand and mitigate the challenges facing physicians.

AMA STEPS Forward open-access toolkits provide innovative strategies that enable physicians and their staff to thrive in the new healthcare environment. These toolkits can help you prevent physician burnout, create the organizational foundation for enjoyment of medicine, and improve practice efficiency.

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