Measuring the Economic Cost of Burnout and Proving ROI with the Well-Being Index

How Dignity Health Medical Group used assessment data to create stakeholder buy-in by showing the financial impact of supporting staff well-being.

Well-Being Index Case Study

The latest research shows that burnout among medical workers is threatening our healthcare systems like never before, eroding the mental health of our professionals, impairing their ability to care for patients, as well as jeopardizing the financial well-being of our institutions.

However, experts agree that with actionable data we can mitigate the risks posed by clinician burnout. In a recent study published by the American Medical Association, researchers showed that “improvement is possible, investment is justified, and return on investment is measurable. Addressing this issue is not only the organization’s ethical responsibility, it is also the fiscally responsible one.”

In the fall of 2020, Michael Zgoda, MD, MBA, CPE and the wellness team at Dignity Health realized that investing in staff well-being had the potential to save money, careers, and even lives.

To support the mental health of the Department of Internal Medicine’s 80+ physicians and assess the effectiveness of their wellness programming, they turned to the Well-Being Index.

“We wanted to figure out what was going to be our standardized approach that has an evidence-based component to it,” said Dr. Zgoda. “We started to perform wellness evaluations by looking at the Well-Being Index.”


Dignity Health Medical Group – Department of Internal Medicine


Arizona, USA

Number of employees:

80+ Physicians

The Impact of Physician Burnout

With the Well-Being Index, they measured the department’s initial burnout rate at 57%. Understanding that burnout leads to a high risk for attrition, they then looked to their physician turnover rate, which was measured at 13%.

Upon reviewing the Department’s Well-Being Index results, the Dignity Health wellness team could easily recognize the immediate threats and the long-term consequences of clinician burnout.

“This is both not good for patient care, but also becomes very expensive,” said Dr. Zgoda.

It was clear that workplace distress was negatively impacting the well-being of their staff. But in order to prove the financial case for investing in wellness support, they needed to know exactly how burnout impacts the financial well-being of the organization.

Using the Cost of Burnout Calculator along with their validated measurement of physician burnout, historical physician turnover rates, and their costs to onboard a new clinician, Dr. Zgoda’s team was able to determine the number of physicians in the department turning over due to burnout and the corresponding cost to the organization.

With this data, they calculated that the department was losing roughly 4 physicians to burnout annually. This devastating level of turnover in a department of just over 80 physicians was costing Dignity Health Medical Group roughly $1.9 million per year.

“We wanted to figure out what was going to be our standardized approach that has an evidence-based component to it. We started to perform wellness evaluations by looking at the Well-Being Index.”

Targeted Interventions to Stop the Bleeding

Committed to supporting staff and saving the institution vital resources, Dignity Health invested in an evidence-based wellness program, implementing several strategic initiatives alongside the Well-Being Index, including:

    • Hiring an organizational psychologist

    • Launching a physician leadership intervention

    • Developing a peer mentorship program

    • Improving system processes to maximize practice efficiency

The total annual cost of their new wellness programming totaled $120,000, with a projected reduction in their physician burnout rate of 20%.

Saving Resources and Proving ROI

From these strategic initiatives, the Department of Internal Medicine was able to dramatically lower its burnout rate and corresponding physician turnover, saving Dignity Health over $370,000 with a 210% return on investment per year.

The Bottom Line

With accurate institutional wellness data from the validated Well-Being Index, Dr. Zgoda and the wellness team at Dignity Health were able to clearly show leadership that supporting clinician well-being is our moral and financial obligation.

To learn more about the Cost of Burnout Calculator and how financial principles can be applied to determine the economic impact of distress, read The Business Case For Investing in Physician Well-Being and visit us at

Access The Demo Account - Try It For Yourself!

You will get instant access to the Well-Being Index demo account to test the software as different types of users. We will also send you a confirmation email with the link to the demo account for future access.

Go Beyond Burnout

Transforming the Approach to Well-Being.

Watch the 2:22 min. Video