Ask many chief wellness officers (CWOs) and they’ll identify funding as the elephant in the room stifling the organization’s ability to develop effective physician wellness programs. Unfortunately, organizational-level funding to combat physician burnout remains few and far between.
In this article, we hope to spark some creative ideas for financing your organizations’ wellness programs.
1) Make Your Wellness Program CME Accredited
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) put out a call for incorporating continuing medical education (CME) activities beyond programs for enhancing clinical care. These CME programs highlight a shift to include learning centered around organizational and individual physician wellness initiatives. As CME is an established practice, CME credits typically fit into hospital and departmental CME-related budgets. CWOs who seek CME accreditation for their physician wellbeing programs will be able to tap into already allotted funds, making it easier to get their physician wellness programs off the ground.
2) Apply For Grants To Fund Your Wellness Program
Explore other sources outside of hospital or department budgets to provide funding for wellness programs. This past summer, the Health and Human Services (HHS) identified $103 million in federal grant money dedicated to addressing burnout in clinicians. The announcement was a result of the increasingly vocal efforts from the medical community and the national attention given to their inadequate resources, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The grant money will support organizational efforts to provide wellness programs for healthcare professionals as well as tools to prevent burnout in those early in their healthcare careers. There are a number of other governmental grants for wellness programs that can provide valuable resources to establish successful hospital wellness programs including:
The Joan F. Giambalvo Fund for the Advancement of Women
The Physician's Foundation Grant Opportunities
3) Create Strategic Partnerships
Medical societies, medical alumni organizations, and professional organizations can also provide funding for wellness programs. Medical societies often have mission statements focused on physician satisfaction and can provide grants for physician wellbeing programs. CWOs can also expand their reach from medical societies to collaborate with other organizations that prioritize health and wellness. These partnerships may provide financial donations and deliver other essentials for physician wellness programs, such as physical spaces for peer support groups, a forum for sharing best practices, and opportunities to collaborate with other wellness champions. By being open to receiving resources in numerous ways, physician wellbeing programs can thrive.
4) Create A Pilot Program To Demonstrate The Need For Your Wellness Initiative
Sometimes the vision for physician wellbeing programs must be pursued before the CWO has secured guaranteed funding for wellness programs. Rather than initiating a multi-year, hospital-wide program, a number of CWOs have been able to spark innovation with a short-term pilot program that serves as a proof of concept for the successful hospital wellness program. By measuring objective changes in physician satisfaction and wellbeing before and after the initiative, the data can speak volumes to senior leadership regarding the benefit of future funding for physician wellness programs.
5) Philanthropic Office or Office of Innovation
Health and wellness reaches across sectors and institutions to include non-profits or private companies with philanthropic missions or well-resourced individuals that have a personal commitment to supporting the physician community. These funds may benefit unique or innovative physician wellness programs that may not initially be supported by their health system. CWOs can reach out to community groups that they have some familiarity with or seek out organizations that have funds set aside for altruistic initiatives and are looking for valuable projects to support.
While successful hospital wellness programs will ultimately need buy-in from the larger organization to impact the highest number of physicians possible, these five ideas may provide a creative jumping ground to initially create and grow your physician wellness programs.
At RechargedMD, we help health systems create and grow sustainable, internal wellness programs. Learn more about us here.