The Emergency Medicine Foundation, a nonprofit organization founded by the American College of Emergency Physicians, along with architecture firm HKS, have announced a research grant focused on reducing physician burnout.
The goal of the grant is to help reimagine how emergency departments are designed by fostering innovation in an environment that has remained largely unchanged for decades. The lead investigators for the research project will be Jason Matthew Fields, M.D., associate professor of emergency medicine and research director for the Health Design Lab at Thomas Jefferson University and Alan Price, director of the Center for Immersive Media at University of the Arts.
For the past several years, ACEP has placed a special emphasis on the issue of physician burnout due to the extremely stressful work environment, unique patient populations and 24/7 operations of EDs. These factors have been exacerbated due to COVID-19. According to a recent poll from ACEP, 72% of emergency physicians report experiencing greater professional burnout since the pandemic began.
To date, most strategies aiming to prevent physician burnout have largely focused on individual and organizational interventions. However, there is a need for greater evidence demonstrating how the physical design of the ED can alleviate instances of physician burnout. From numerous grant submissions, the proposal by the Health Design Lab at Thomas Jefferson University edged out the competition with a proposal that intends to provide a clearer understanding of the multiple factors creating stress, while also providing tools and processes for redesigning existing ED spaces. The work of the project team has the potential to reduce stress for emergency physicians, while creating an environment of wellness in the EDs they serve in, which in turn supports enhanced patient care and treatment.