United Health Foundation and American Academy of Family Physicians Foundation Partner to Promote Physician Well-Being and Reduce Burnout

October 06, 2020 | 3 min Read
  • Three-year, $3 million grant will help AAFP create a new program to improve physician wellness and deliver higher quality care to patients

United Health Foundation is teaming with the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) Foundation through a $3 million, three-year grant to help the AAFP identify causes of physician burnout and develop solutions to improve physician wellness and, ultimately, deliver higher quality care to patients. The three-year grant comes as the coronavirus pandemic compounds pressures physicians face, and a nationwide primary care physician shortage grows.

Primary care providers play a critical role in the health care system. They provide direct patient care and counsel patients on the appropriate use of specialists and advanced treatment options. Yet, more than half of family physicians report markers of poor well-being, and burnout can negatively affect the quality of patient care, according to AAFP research. And more than 19% of Americans live in an area with a shortage of primary care providers, with the shortfall projected to reach between 20,000 and 55,000 over the next decade.

“The need to improve physician wellness is critical, especially as COVID-19 has presented health care providers with a new set of challenges and additional stressors,” said Dr. Ken Cohen, Senior Medical Director at Optum Care, a UnitedHealth Group company, as well as a practicing internist. “By supporting the AAFP and its innovative new program, we are acting on our long-standing commitment to improving physician well-being and primary care.”

The United Health Foundation grant will help the AAFP create a certificate program and curriculum that will identify causes and solutions for improving physician well-being, including operational improvements and efficiencies and change management tactics. The program will train 200 family physicians to lead change for improved clinician well-being in their practices, including the development of a change management plan for the participant’s organization. Upon completion, the AAFP will support physician participants as they create and implement an applied project that creates change at the organizational level. 

The physician wellness training program will begin in January 2021. The AAFP is accepting applications currently, with additional information available on its website.

“Our goal with this program is to foster a movement in family medicine that changes the culture, policies, and systems in health care to better support clinician well-being and improve our understanding of how to lead change in health care organizations to improve clinician wellness,” said Dr. Catherine Florio Pipas, co-chair of AAFP’s Leading Physician Well-Being program. “We are grateful to United Health Foundation for its partnership in this project and for its commitment to improving physician wellness.”

About UnitedHealth Group

UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) is a diversified health care company dedicated to helping people live healthier lives and helping make the health system work better for everyone. UnitedHealth Group offers a broad spectrum of products and services through two distinct platforms: UnitedHealthcare, which provides health care coverage and benefits services; and Optum, which provides information and technology-enabled health services. For more information, visit UnitedHealth Group at or follow @UnitedHealthGrp on Twitter.