Ramin Davidoff, MD, on supporting physician wellness


Ramin Davidoff, MD, co-CEO of The Permanente Federation, discussed the causes of burnout and how Kaiser Permanente is supporting physician wellness with Don Crane, former president and CEO of America’s Physician Groups, at the National Primary Care Transformation Summit.

Ramin Davidoff, MD

According to Dr. Davidoff, physicians increasingly feel they lack connection with their patients and colleagues in the wake of the pandemic. Physicians often say they get joy and satisfaction from spending time with patients, getting to know them personally, and having important conversations about their health. However, increases in work like updating electronic health records, responding to patient portal messages, and administrative desktop medicine tasks have made it more difficult for physicians to find the time to focus on what matters most to them — connecting with and treating patients.

“What we need to do is make sure our physicians feel supported by the organization first and foremost and remove some of these burdens that are being placed on them,” said Dr. Davidoff. “We’ll do everything we can to provide the resources that they need to provide the care that they’re capable of.”

Related supporting physician wellness story: “Healing the healers: Physician burnout and wellness”

He discussed some of the steps Kaiser Permanente is taking to address physician burnout, including building programs that promote a culture of wellness. Dr. Davidoff reinforced how peer support can reduce the stigma associated with mental and behavioral health through programs such as Kaiser Permanente Northern California’s Peer Outreach Support Team (POST). The POST program trains nominated physicians on the components of peer support before they’re embedded in their departments, providing proactive one-on-one emotional support to their colleagues after difficult clinical experiences.

Reducing the bureaucratic burdens that have taken over medicine is a crucial part of the effort to address burnout, he said. One such solution he referenced is Kaiser Permanente’s SmartTriage system, which helps patients self-populate their medical information to help reduce the amount of time physicians spend documenting.

Dr. Davidoff said it’s also important that other members of care teams take ownership of some tasks that do not need to be done by physicians so they can make the most of their interactions with patients.

Related supporting physician wellness story: “AMA recognizes Permanente Medical Groups for tackling physician burnout”

“Being a physician, I truly believe, is a noble profession and we’ve got to constantly look for ways to make this work sustainable and enjoyable for our physicians and for our staff,” Dr. Davidoff remarked.

Note: Watch the full interview here.