New Charter Calls on U.S. Healthcare Organizations to Create Cultures of Professionalism

Identification of new roles for an old concept for organizations
aspiring to lead the evolution of health care

SEATTLE–(BUSINESS WIRE)–#hospitals–A team of healthcare professionals, patients, and community advocates
have created a new set of professionalism-based metrics for model
hospitals and hospital systems in order to create more healing
environments in hospitals, alleviate workforce burnout, and provide
ethical guidelines for hospital operations. This new set of metrics,
known as the ‘Charter on Professionalism for Healthcare Organizations,’
is being published in the January 11, 2017 online issue of Academic

The ‘Charter on Professionalism for Healthcare Organizations’ extends
the professionalism principles articulated in the ‘Medical
Professionalism in the New Millennium: A Physician Charter,’ published
in a February 2002 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine. That
Charter articulated ideals for individual physicians. Many physicians
indicated in that charter challenges in fully embodying the principles
of the charter because of inhibiting policies of healthcare
organizations where they worked or were employed. The “Charter on
Professionalism for Healthcare Organizations” espouses professionalism
ideals for the healthcare structures where care is actually delivered.

The ‘Charter on Professionalism for Healthcare Organizations’ outlines
aspirational behaviors within four domains:

1. Patient Partnership: By involving patients more fully in their
care and in hospital strategies, a more patient-centered approach to
healthcare can be achieved. Although patients clearly benefit from such
partnerships, organizations can improve their performance and increase
public trust.

2. Organizational Culture: Attention to the environment of the
healthcare workforce can reduce burnout among all healthcare
professionals, which now affects more than half of physicians. When
healthcare workers’ wellbeing is cared for, they can in turn provide
better care for patients.

3. Community Partnership: Population health requires
collaboration among all the entities that can affect the social
determinants of health: hospitals, government, and community

4. Operations and Business Practices: Ethical business practices
improve access, the quality of patient care, and hospital financial

“As healthcare organizations grapple with the growing crisis of provider
burnout, it is becoming more evident that an organizational commitment
is required to affect the real change that will lead to wellness. The
four concepts outlined in the Charter on Professionalism for Healthcare
Organizations, are critical in establishing a foundation for health
systems and hospitals to help create an environment that allows our most
important (and expensive) resource, our people, to partner with us to
make real improvements,” said Lewis L. Low, MD, FCCM, FACP, Senior Vice
President and Chief Medical Officer of Legacy Health in Portland, Oregon.

The ‘Charter on Professionalism for Healthcare Organizations,’ which is
published in the January 11, 2017 online issue of Academic Medicine,
along with a background article explaining its rationale, was funded by
the Commonwealth Fund, the ABIM Foundation, The American Hospital
Association, the Federation of American Hospitals, and Northwell Health.

The authors of the charter acknowledge that transitioning to the model
health care organization described in this charter will challenge
historical roles and assumptions of both leadership and staff. Yet, they
believe professionalism concepts can offer guidance for decision making
in a fiscally difficult, rapidly changing, and ethically challenging
environment, and that the resulting changes will benefit both patients
and those that provide care for them.

“Only by engaging families, local community-based organizations,
government leaders, healthcare providers and other stakeholders in a
thoughtful, multi-faceted education, awareness and advocacy campaign can
we achieve any measurable success in changing lifestyle behaviors and
addressing the social determinants of health,” said Michael J. Dowling,
president and chief executive officer of Northwell Health in Great Neck,
New York. “I applaud the authors of the Charter on Professionalism for
Healthcare Organizations for taking the lead on this endeavor, and
encourage all in the healthcare community to strongly support these and
other efforts that will transform our delivery system.”

Like the Physician Charter that came before it, the Charter on
Professionalism for Healthcare Organizations seeks the endorsement of
organized medicine: hospital systems, specialty societies,
representatives of the healthcare professions.

The Foundation for Medical Excellence will remain the “home” of the
charter project and invites health care across the United States to
showcase efforts to implement Charter principles. Stellar projects will
be recognized on an annual basis on the basis of objective criteria.
Patients, healthcare workers, and organized medicine all stand to
benefit from the Charter principles.

Located in Portland Oregon, The Foundation for Medical Excellence is a
public non-profit foundation created in 1984 whose mission is to promote
quality healthcare and sound health policy. To achieve its mission, The
Foundation develops and presents a wide range of educational programs,
and provides consulting services. The Foundation for Medical Excellence
is online at


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