Provider-Based Projects

We conduct projects about how to improve the provider experience of health care and how to reduce stress and burnout.

Office of Professional Worklife

The HCMC Office for Professional Worklife is the first of its kind to address provider stress for a large health system. After researching physician satisfaction and burnout for 20+ years, Dr. Linzer brought his expertise home to focus on a new innovation at Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC) – the creation of the Office for Professional Worklife (OPW). Dr. Linzer and his colleague Sara Poplau, Senior Research Project Manager and Assistant Director of the OPW, head the Office that serves as a visible space dedicated to wellness, worklife, and listening to the needs of  providers. The OPW offers wellness services that improve the work lives of all providers. There’s a national need for this type of focus on stress and burnout, and this program has already begun to serve as a model for other health care systems. Services offered by the OPW will include: one-on-one discussions about work-life; advocacy for ways to improve balance between work and life for providers; and partnering with the HCMC Provider Wellness Committee, Wellness Champions and Department Chairs to ensure that the needs of providers are heard and addressed.

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Grant funds from Constellation  support work by HCMC’s Office of Professional Worklife (OPW) including designing and implementing a quarterly Speakers Series on topics that pertain to providers (Ergonomics, Stress and the Electronic Medical Record); provide in depth analysis of provider wellness survey results and the relationship between vacation time/time off used; coordinating efforts with HCMCs residency programs to measure and address resident burnout; and establish restorative health classes for providers at HCMC.


Stress and the Electronic Medical Record

Minimizing Stress, Maximizing Success of Provider’s Use of Health Information and Communications Technologies Research Project – “The MS-Squared Study”—is a response to an RFA from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) IT Study Section.  This proposal builds upon our prior work funded by AHRQ, entitled MEMO (Minimizing Error Maximizing Outcome), which showed that work conditions in primary care, including EMR use, are associated with provider stress, burnout and dissatisfaction (Linzer M, et al. Ann Intern Med. 2009;151:28-36.)  The medical literature is beginning to show the pronounced stress that providers can experience from varied types of EMRs. This new study will assess, in focus groups and then a multi-site survey, the stress management strategies employed by clinicians and the features of the EMR that promote the highest quality care with the best clinician outcomes. 

The specific aims are to:
1.    Identify points of stress on providers associated with EMR use, and
2.    Determine provider coping strategies that effectively manage EMR stress.

The methods include focus groups at three sites (University of New Mexico, University of Arizona, and Stanford University). Focus group participants were drawn  from 5 specialties: general pediatrics, general internal medicine, family medicine, internal medicine subspecialties and pediatric subspecialties. Data emanating from the focus groups were subjected to formal content analysis and then used to craft a survey forclinicians from these specialties at the three sites. The survey will seek to identify clear strategies that reduce stress and improve proficiency of IT use. Survey data will be analyzed at the University of Minnesota’s Biostatistical Design and Analysis Center (BDAC). 

Access additional resources below:

Provider Wellness Resources