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STEPS to Working Smarter, Not Harder

The satisfaction physicians derive from their work is eroding as they spend more time on grueling administrative rules, regulations and paperwork instead of caring for patients, according to an American Medical Association-RAND report.

This is leading to physician burnout. The AMA has a free solution that will help physicians and their staffs redesign their medical practices to minimize stress and reignite their professional fulfillment in a short amount of time.

STEPS Forward™ is described as “a practice-based initiative aimed at helping physicians meet the Quadruple Aim—better patient experience, better population health and lower overall costs with improved professional satisfaction.” Physicians and their staffs can access this collection of online educational modules while earning continuing medical education credit at

“One of most important things we think physicians can do is to get together with their practice leadership, step back, and ask—‘how are things working?’” said Bruce Bagley, MD, FAAFP, senior adviser to the Professional Satisfaction and Practice Sustainability effort at the AMA. Bagley is a featured speaker at the KMA Leadership Academy on Sept. 10 during KMA’s 2016 Annual Meeting.

With today’s continually evolving health care environment, physicians are struggling to spend more quality time with their patients to ensure they receive the highest care.

“Physicians are going a mile a minute from eight in the morning to six or seven at night,” Bagley said. “After they tuck their kids in, they’re back on electronic medical records finishing their notes.”

With the STEPS Forward program, physicians can take as little as 20 minutes to view modules that address four key areas: practice efficiency and patient care, patient health, physician health, and technology and innovation. The program has 27 modules ranging from “Adopting Telemedicine in Practice” to “Preparing Your Practice for Change.”

More than 5,000 medical professionals have participated in STEPS since its inception in June 2015. Michelle Rein, MD, Family Medicine, Mayo Clinic Health System-Franciscan Healthcare in Wisconsin, is one of them. “When I leave at the end of the day, my work is done, which allows me to enjoy the things that bring me joy outside of practice,” Rein said of lessons learned from the program

STEPS is designed to help the office staff help the physicians do better work.  “Team-based care gets better results,” Bagley said.

“I get my doctor all to myself—I don’t have to share him with a computer,” said Kimberly, a patient at Bellin Health System in Wisconsin, where doctors participated in STEPS.

Bagley said in the past, doctors have been selected, trained and practiced in the ‘hero’ model “where the doctor is the source of all knowledge, wisdom, decision making and education. That’s no longer OK. It’s not working.  The whole task is too complex for that.”

Bagley hopes his presentation at the annual meeting will open some eyes in Kentucky.

“If we can’t bring them (doctors) some hope, we’ve failed.  We need to talk turkey about the things that need to change,” he said. “Instead of resisting those changes, become familiar with what needs to be different, embrace change, and have a path to achieve the changes within your own work environment.”

KY Physicians' Leadership Academy


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