Background: Although physician burnout is associated with negative clinical and organizational outcomes, its economic costs are poorly understood. As a result, leaders in health care cannot properly assess the financial benefits of initiatives to remediate physician burnout.
Objective: To estimate burnout-associated costs related to physician turnover and physicians reducing their clinical hours at national (U.S.) and organizational levels.
Design: Cost-consequence analysis using a mathematical model.
Setting: United States.
Participants: Simulated population of U.S. physicians.
Measurements: Model inputs were estimated by using the results of contemporary published research findings and industry reports.
Results: On a national scale, the conservative base-case model estimates that approximately $4.6 billion in costs related to physician turnover and reduced clinical hours is attributable to burnout each year in the United States. This estimate ranged from $2.6 billion to $6.3 billion in multivariate probabilistic sensitivity analyses. At an organizational level, the annual economic cost associated with burnout related to turnover and reduced clinical hours is approximately $7600 per employed physician each year.
Limitations: Possibility of nonresponse bias and incomplete control of confounders in source data. Some parameters were unavailable from data and had to be extrapolated.
Conclusion: Together with previous evidence that burnout can effectively be reduced with moderate levels of investment, these findings suggest substantial economic value for policy and organizational expenditures for burnout reduction programs for physicians.