Populytics and Valley Preferred Join Together in Physician Wellness
Presenters at the June 11 forum on physician wellness included Joseph Patruno, MD, Network Chair, Wellness Committee; Mark Wendling, MD, Executive Director of Valley Preferred; Carolyn Lamparella, Ed.S, LPC, Director, Preferred EAP; and Kristin Behler, MPH, MCHES®, Director, Health Promotion and Wellness, BeneFIT Corporate Wellness/Populytics.
Everyone who works in health care can be susceptible to exceptional levels of stress. As health care grows more demanding of its providers, it can become difficult to maintain a sense of balance between work and a personal life. These are some of the issues that are coming to the forefront as health systems everywhere struggle with what has been called “burnout,” but is really a cultural consequence of accelerating technology, a growing patient population, less doctor-to-doctor connection, and simply more to do.
Valley Preferred, the preferred provider organization aligned with Lehigh Valley Health Network, is planning and actively pursuing ways to change the dynamic for member physicians. “We’re working with the Network’s Wellness Committee, collecting data on how physicians feel and where the biggest needs exist,” says Mark Wendling, MD, Executive Director of Valley Preferred. The organization has tapped into resources available through the LVHN subsidiary, Populytics, to take a well-rounded comprehensive approach to the problem.
Preferred EAP, the behavioral health counseling arm now under Populytics, is part of the effort offering its counseling expertise free to both employed and independent physicians. The corporate wellness division of Populytics has also made its personal health coaching program available to physicians without cost. Health coaching is an effective way to identify one’s own goals and create a realistic pathway to get there, along with a helpful guide (in this case, a board-certified health coach) to encourage and motivate. These programs are complemented by a peer-to-peer support program that trains physicians to act as mentors and confidants to their fellow doctors, and other resources such as free access to LVHN fitness centers to take advantage of the benefits of staying physically fit.
Valley Preferred is already seeing the percentage of burnout among LVHN physicians dip. Its leaders are dedicated to enacting the ideas on the drawing board and finding more avenues to improved wellness for all of the physicians and other clinicians who care for the regional patient community. “Quality patient care absolutely depends on the health and wellness of our physicians,” says Dr. Wendling. “And no other mission is more important than their well-being.”