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  • Writer's pictureBruce Cummings

Pay Attention to Mayo Clinic's Emerging Workforce Strategy

Updated: May 13

Finally! One of the nation's leading healthcare systems, Mayo, has gone on record affirming what many of us in the healthcare burnout prevention community have known since the onset of the pandemic, if not well before: a hospital or health system cannot recruit its way out of the current workforce recruitment-retention-shortage crisis.

In a November 9 podcast interview with Becker's Review, Sarah Poncelet, Mayo's executive director of strategy development, announced the renowned clinic's new strategy: to scale automation across Mayo's 3 campuses to reduce pressures on areas with critical staff shortages or that are experiencing high turnover: "Thirty percent of healthcare has the potential for automation, so we really want to reduce administrative burden, reduce manual tasks and processes in order to free up our most valuable asset, which is our people, and make sure they're doing human-related tasks versus things that could be potentially automated." Ms. Poncelet says she and her team seek to "bring joy back" to care teams and improve outcomes, safety and patient experience.

2/3 of a Clinician's Time is Spent Doing Non-Clinical Work

As my colleague, Paul DeChant, MD, MBA, points out approximately 2/3 of a clinician's time is spent doing non-clinical work (including, especially, data search and entry in the EHR and/or getting bogged down in "administrivia") and only about 1/3 of their time actually directly caring for patients. What if an organization could flip that ratio, he muses? Well, it appears that Mayo is gearing up to pursue that ideal "flip".

While I applaud Mayo's intentions to apply its vast intellectual property and well deserved reputation as an early tech adopter and an enlightened employer, I did not see any reference that this venerable organization would be looking at making changes in its leadership practices. AI/ML, robotics, and other tech solutions can play a salutary role in changing problematic conditions in the workplace and in workflow. They are necessary but they are not sufficient. So, too, with providing wellness and resilience services -- the default action implemented by most hospitals as clinician burnout became a transcendent issue. Again, necessary but not sufficient. What's missing? Both of these useful interventions need to be combined with changes in leadership philosophy and practices in a way that lessens the often toxic or at least distant/distrustful relationship between front-line clinicians and the executive suite. There are specific tools and techniques that can bring about a new, more resilient, aligned, and productive relationship that will reduce burnout, improve staffing, and enable an organization to be viewed by current and prospective clinicians as a preferred employer.

Ready to transform your hospital or workplace?

Are you frustrated by adversarial relationships between front line clinicians and senior leadership? Organizational Wellbeing Solutions was formed to enable senior leaders to identify the specific drivers of clinician burnout in their organization; and to support leaders in designing and executing a comprehensive plan to stop clinician burnout, increase retention, and improve operating results.

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