Healing Assembly Line Medicine

Brandon Tang, a deputy editor at Healthy Debate, gave a TEDx talk about how fostering “deep work,” work performed in a state of intense focus, can improve a health-care system that leaves patients dissatisfied and physicians burned out. Read about what inspired his talk and check out his video below:


“Healing Assembly Line Medicine” was inspired by my experiences working on the front lines as a resident physician. In this talk, I share how the hospital has become a factory in which patients are rushed through the assembly line and providers face tremendous cognitive burden. I then explore how a “deep work culture” could help heal our system. Two specific examples I emphasize include: Reducing “shallow work” through continuous quality improvement and triaging interruptions through technology and culture change. One running theme throughout the talk is physician burnout, sharing my own experiences, but also those of health-care providers at large.

This talk was inspired by a piece I wrote for Healthy Debate on “deep work,” and I hope it can be the start of meaningful culture change in health care. In the midst of the global COVID-19 pandemic, growing patient dissatisfaction, and skyrocketing physician burnout, “assembly line medicine” has never been a more topical issue.

The comments section is closed.

  • Mark Schrider, MSN, RN says:

    All the focus is on the system leaving “physicians burned out”. What about nurses? Nurses who have more interaction and contact with patients on a day-to-day, hour-by-hour, minute-by-minute basis than physicians ever hope to have. Couple the intensity of these interactions and the increasing burdens hospital administrators are forcing on nursing staff and you have a situation ripe for not only nursing burnout, but increasingly unsafe conditions in hospitals, from outpatient clinics to ICU’s. This as the blow-back on the healthcare industry as a whole in the wake of COIVD 19 are just beginning to be felt.

  • John Van Aerde says:

    Good suggestions for improvement in that part of the health system that we can influence in the short term. 1) Talk amplifies the fact we are not practising patient or relationship-centered care; it used to be physician-centered care, now it is institution- or hospital-centered care. 2) Problem is even much deeper than suggested, because only the superficial part of the health system is addressed in this talk, that part which affects less than 1/4 of health.


Brandon Tang


Brandon Tang is a fifth-year General Internal Medicine subspecialty resident physician at the University of Toronto. Throughout his training, he has been engaged in education leadership and advocacy, including serving as Chief Resident for the International Conference on Residency Education and a deputy editor at Healthy Debate. He is currently pursuing a Master’s in medical education through Harvard Medical School. You can follow Brandon on Twitter at @DrBrandonTang.

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