Moving beyond the Triple Aim to the Quadruple Aim

Medical staffing software can help boost physician job satisfaction to achieve the Quadruple Aim.

Over the past decade, many care providers and hospital systems have been focused on achieving the Triple Aim – improving population health, enhancing the patient experience and reducing costs. However, a new pillar has been suggested to make the Quadruple Aim: an emphasis on physician and staff satisfaction and wellness.

Although achieving the Triple Aim has been difficult, the results have been beneficial to both care providers and patients. By incorporating a fourth goal into this framework, health facilities can take a more holistic approach to improving care and reducing costs while still ensuring their staff members are also taken into consideration. Medical staffing software can help health systems and facilities reach the objectives of the Quadruple Aim.

The limitations of the Triple Aim

The three pillars of the Triple Aim – boosting overall population health, increasing patient satisfaction and reducing per-capita healthcare spending – have been the driving goal of medical practices and hospitals and have widely been used as the compass to optimize performance.

"The Triple Aim fails to address physician job satisfaction."

While this approach has been successful in many aspects of improving delivery of quality healthcare, it has failed to address a crucial component to the overall picture: staff and clinician satisfaction. Without incorporating a focus on this key fourth aim, physicians and other staff members face the potential for burnout and job dissatisfaction.

As staff and physician burnout become more prevalent and long-lasting, it leads to a "loss of enthusiasm for work, feelings of cynicism and a low sense of personal accomplishment," according to "From Triple to Quadruple Aim: Care of the Patient Requires Care of the Provider," published in the Annals of Family Medicine. When these feelings bubble to the top, it negatively affects staff performance, leading to:

  • Resource overuse.
  • Worsened clinical outcomes.
  • Prescription errors.
  • Higher healthcare costs.

Collectively, these problems ultimately cause a lower quality of patient care. Without adding this important fourth pillar to the Triple Aim, it only stymies the goals of healthcare organizations to reach their goals.

How to leverage the Fourth Pillar

As noted by "From Triple to Quadruple Aim," the common factors contributing to physician and staff burnout arises from:

  • Excessive paperwork and administrative tasks.
  • Insufficient time on face-to-face activities.
  • Increased EHR burdens.

In other words: when physicians and other members of the healthcare workforce aren't interacting with patients and providing care. By boosting face time with patients and allowing medical staff to spend more time actually practicing medicine, it increases overall job satisfaction. With higher levels of satisfaction, performance levels improve, which translates into better patient care and more efficient practices.

"Increasing facetime with patients boosts physicians' overall job satisfaction."

Reaching the goals of the Quadruple Aim will be more difficult than the Triple Aim, but the rewards are worth it. Achieving this will require everyone involved in healthcare to pitch in and be on the same page, including physicians improving communication and patient care; a laser-sharp focus on costs by administrators; patients committed to their health; and of new concern, care coordinators creating a healthy work environment for their medical staff.

Utilizing locum tenens to shore up staff

Ensuring a healthy work-life balance through efficient scheduling and staffing will be a key component of fully realizing the Quadruple Aim. Part of the problem contributing to the lack of workplace satisfaction stems from poor staff scheduling. Whether a particular region is underserved by candidates or a hospital system is burdened with inefficient scheduling, these obstacles can make optimizing staff members' time downright impossible.

Rural areas, in particular, face an difficult path ahead in improving population health. In many of these places, attracting permanent physicians and recruiting long-term staff is tough due to the lack of available candidates. Even in urban areas, the constant fluctuations and disruptions caused by high turnover can impact the health of the work environment. 

HR departments and recruiters at hospital systems, medical practices and other healthcare organizations can leverage the 40,000 physicians who work locum tenens assignments annually to reach all of their Quadruple Aims.

Medical staffing software lets organizations instantly find qualified candidates with the right credentials and availability to fill shifts and optimize scheduling. Locum tenens physicians are flexible, bring outside experience and expertise, and help ease scheduling burdens to provide a better workplace environment for everyone. 

Click here to learn more about how BlueSky Medical Staffing Software can help healthcare organizations leverage locum tenens physicians achieve the Quadruple Aim.