Success Story: Speed-Networking for Physicians Builds Community | Electronic Health Records | AMA STEPS Forward | AMA Ed Hub [Skip to Content]
[Skip to Content Landing]

Success Story: Speed-Networking for Physicians Builds Community

Learn how Atrius Health builds community with physician “speed networking” events.

What Was the Problem?

The modern physician's community has disappeared. Gone are the days of catching up with colleagues over lunch in the physicians' dining room or conferring with others during a break between patients in the staff lounge. These spaces where physicians used to share concerns, swap stories, and support each other are hard to find in the current realities of health care.

This lack of community leaves a gap in a physician's practice. Where there was collegiality and peer support, now there are silos. Although physicians spend time interacting with medical support and administrative team members, they primarily interact with their fellow physicians through email, the electronic health record (EHR), and the occasional phone call.

Impersonal communication and a lack of connection to peers are among the many factors contributing to record levels of burnout among physicians. Recent evidence suggests that more than 50% of physicians-in-training and practicing physicians experience symptoms of burnout.1

Developing the Intervention

The goal was to promote a culture of wellness that supports physicians in 1 of 2 equally important ways:

  1. Familiarity: When physicians refer their patients to a colleague, they want to assure the patient that they know the referred doctor and are confident in the care the patient will receive.

  2. Connection: Having connections with other physicians encourages their well-being. They know they have colleagues to go to if they are distressed or need assistance, a peer to turn to for advice in a decision, or a peer to rely on when there is a difficult outcome of care.

While Atrius Health could not recreate the days where time was more plentiful for building relationships with colleagues, they introduced “speed networking.” This was based on the “speed dating” concept where people have a series of short conversations to get to know potential romantic matches. All physicians and advance practice clinicians (APCs) in the organization were invited to the speed networking event, as were the organization's senior clinical leadership. Over 140 clinicians traveled in small groups from table to table for 10 minutes of conversation at the event.

Primary care physicians met with colleagues representing 11 different specialties. Specialty care colleagues were anchored at each table, and many brought materials or displays about the programs they offered. Primary care clinicians traveled in groups based on their department. Groups were assigned tables to visit based on if they saw adult patients, pediatric patients, or patients of all ages.

By the close of the evening, the organizers heard loud and clear that events like this were welcome and necessary to reconnect the physician population across the practice.

“It was so great to meet people who I've only emailed in the past and to catch up with specialists who I never have time to talk with. I think our best days in primary care are days when we coordinate care across different departments, and events like this make that easier.”

—Primary care physician attendee

“I really valued meeting people face to face with whom I share patients. I recently mentioned to a patient that I had met her PCP, and she was so happy to hear it; she was comforted knowing we are all working together to give her the best possible care.”

—Palliative care specialist attendee
Results

Through this speed-networking program, physicians found the chance to connect with colleagues they had either never met before or only knew through their correspondence in the EHR. It was also a chance for colleagues to catch up after not seeing each other for quite some time.

The first event was so well attended that it was held 2 times over the course of 1 year. Because the practice is spread out over 30 locations in Eastern Massachusetts, the next year the event was taken to the local level, holding regional events in 6 different locations. Clinicians were able to connect with colleagues who practiced both at their site or in their region. As many of the specialty care physicians provide care in multiple locations in the same area, primary physicians were able to meet the specialty care providers who provide care to their patients.

While these events were paused due to social distancing requirements during COVID, the practice hopes to bring back speed networking in 2022. In the meantime, clinicians are encouraged to meet in small groups (either in person or virtually) through the Facilitated Dinners program. In this program, which is based on a Mayo Clinic intervention, groups of clinicians are given a small stipend to have dinner, and are supplied a question about reducing burnout or professional fulfillment to discuss as a group.2 Since 2018, more than 35% of Atrius Health clinicians have participated in at least 1 dinner.

While speed networking and other networking events will not completely turn the tide on physician burnout, it is a starting point to breaking down the chaotic walls of modern medicine and building a stronger clinician community as the foundation of a high-quality care practice.

AMA Steps Forward logo

AMA STEPS Forward™ presents actionable, practical toolkits and customizable resources that you can use to successfully implement meaningful and transformative change in your practice or organization. See How it Works

Article Information

Disclosure Statement: Unless noted, all individuals in control of content reported no relevant financial relationships.

Disclaimer: AMA STEPS Forward™ content is provided for informational purposes only, is believed to be current and accurate at the time of posting, and is not intended as, and should not be construed to be, legal, financial, medical, or consulting advice. Physicians and other users should seek competent legal, financial, medical, and consulting advice. AMA STEPS Forward™ content provides information on commercial products, processes, and services for informational purposes only. The AMA does not endorse or recommend any commercial products, processes, or services and mention of the same in AMA STEPS Forward™ content is not an endorsement or recommendation. The AMA hereby disclaims all express and implied warranties of any kind related to any third-party content or offering. The AMA expressly disclaims all liability for damages of any kind arising out of use, reference to, or reliance on AMA STEPS Forward™ content.

About the AMA Professional Satisfaction and Practice Sustainability Group

The AMA Professional Satisfaction and Practice Sustainability group has been tasked with developing and promoting innovative strategies that create sustainable practices. Leveraging findings from the 2013 AMA/RAND Health study, “Factors affecting physician professional satisfaction and their implications for patient care, health systems and health policy,” and other research sources, the group developed a series of practice transformation strategies. Each has the potential to reduce or eliminate inefficiency in broader office-based physician practices and improve health outcomes, increase operational productivity, and reduce health care costs.

References
1.
West  CP, Dyrbye  LN, Shanafelt  TD.  Physician burnout: contributors, consequences and solutions.  J Intern Med. 2018;283(6):516–529. doi:10.1111/joim.12752Google ScholarCrossref
2.
Swensen  SJ, Shanafelt  T.  An organizational framework to reduce professional burnout and bring back joy in practice.  Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf. 2017;43(6):308–313. doi:10.1016/j.jcjq.2017.01.007Google Scholar

Disclaimer: AMA STEPS Forward™ content is provided for informational purposes only, is believed to be current and accurate at the time of posting, and is not intended as, and should not be construed to be, legal, financial, medical, or consulting advice. Physicians and other users should seek competent legal, financial, medical, and consulting advice. AMA STEPS Forward™ content provides information on commercial products, processes, and services for informational purposes only. The AMA does not endorse or recommend any commercial products, processes, or services and mention of the same in AMA STEPS Forward™ content is not an endorsement or recommendation. The AMA hereby disclaims all express and implied warranties of any kind related to any third-party content or offering. The AMA expressly disclaims all liability for damages of any kind arising out of use, reference to, or reliance on AMA STEPS Forward™ content.

Close
Close
Close

Name Your Search

Save Search
Close
Close

Lookup An Activity

or

Close

My Saved Searches

You currently have no searches saved.

Close
Close