healthcare worker burnout

Improve the Healthcare Professional Experience and Reduce Burnout with these 7 Steps

3 min read

October 16, 2023

How do we take care of the caregivers? Healthcare workers have always gone above and beyond to provide quality care to the patients who need it, often at the expense of their own well-being.

Even after the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, increasing patient volume, labor shortages, and work overload contribute to record burnout among physicians, nurses, and other practitioners. The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners found that 73% of Australian GPs have experienced feelings of burnout over the past 12 months.

There are serious consequences to a worn-out healthcare workforce, such as poor physical and mental health, exhaustion, elevated stress levels, and high turnover.

The ripple effects are harder to measure but even more impactful. Exhausted, disengaged caregivers provide lower-quality services to their patients. Failure to address the needs of healthcare workers in the short term could lead to worse population health outcomes in the future.

Providers can improve staff satisfaction by addressing the reasons behind burnout and taking steps to reduce its effects. Leveraging technology to streamline operations can ease some of the burden on healthcare practitioners so they can focus on taking care of patients and themselves.

Identifying Causes of Healthcare Worker Burnout

The causes of burnout in healthcare workers are multifactorial and complex. Understanding them, however, is crucial to developing prevention strategies.

Excessive workloads, administrative burdens, limited say in scheduling, and lack of control over their work environment are just a few of the factors overwhelming healthcare workers. Other issues include long working hours, lack of support from colleagues and supervisors, and emotional exhaustion.

Even the tools intended to improve doctors’ productivity can become a hindrance. The average primary care physician spends as much as daily managing electronic health records (EHRs), with about half of that outside their scheduled work time. If providers aren’t adequately trained on the systems, they can become more frustrating than helpful. 

These challenges are especially acute for caregivers who already face inequities in the workplace. Women, people of color, members of the LGBTQ+ community, those with disabilities, and low-wage workers are more likely to be impacted mentally and physically.

Healthcare is vital to the well-being of society, but it shouldn’t come at the expense of those who provide it. Providers need to identify the causes of burnout affecting their staff and find ways to support them.

Potential Solutions for Burnout

Burnout needs to be addressed on many levels in the healthcare system, but it must start at the top. A culture of support and collaboration needs to be created to enable their staff to take care of themselves.

One way to begin is by implementing policies, procedures or new technology to help reduce workload and increase efficiency, such as providing adequate staffing levels, optimizing scheduling, and minimizing unnecessary administrative tasks.

Giving providers more control over their work environment, including the types of patients they treat, can reduce feelings of being overwhelmed. In addition, offering more flexible schedules, including remote or hybrid working arrangements, promotes work-life balance for caregivers.

Finally, employers need to address the emotional demands of healthcare work by reducing the stigma around seeking help. They can offer support through counseling, debriefing sessions, and other resources. 

7 Steps to Reduce Burnout in Healthcare Organizations with the Right Communications Technology

Most medical professionals chose their careers because they want to spend their lives helping patients – not managing mountains of data. Providers are often overwhelmed by trying to keep up with the EHRs that have accompanied the digital transformation of the healthcare industry.

Healthcare providers can leverage Mitel’s tailored healthcare solutions to reduce caregivers' time on routine duties like data entry and appointment scheduling. Implementing technology and workflow solutions to automate routine tasks frees providers to focus on the more personal elements of treatment. Here are seven steps healthcare organizations can take to optimize their operations and reduce the causes and effects of burnout:

1. Analyze Current Workflows

Identify areas that are time-consuming, redundant, or prone to errors, including administrative tasks, data entry, and documentation. With a communication solution that can be securely integrated into your workflows, you can reduce the risk of bottlenecks in your processes, thereby increasing patient satisfaction and ensuring they receive the correct information at the right time.

2. Identify Tasks that can be Automated

Use staff time efficiently by using technology to automate basic tasks like EHR management, appointment scheduling, reminders, prescription requests, or billing. Other workflows, such as routing calls to the appropriate clinician or department, can also be automated to reduce the need for manual triage and improve patient call times. Secure, automated messaging between care team members reduces the need for phone calls, enhances communication, and frees staff to focus on more complex tasks.

3. Develop Standardized Procedures

Ensuring the new workflow is clearly communicated to all teams will help reduce errors and inconsistencies that could compromise patient care. These standardized procedures are essential during emergencies when effective communication is paramount, and healthcare professionals must quickly establish communication channels and share critical information, aiding in swift decision-making and patient management.

4. Consider Remote Healthcare Practices

Telehealth solutions, including virtual visits and AI-assisted chatbots, allow practitioners to care for patients conveniently. Doctors and patients can easily discuss conditions, send secure files, and click-to-call on a single platform, making appointments more efficient.

5. Leverage Self-service Technology

Reduce staff time spent on essential patient management by enabling self-service portals for appointment scheduling and prescription renewals. Healthcare administrators and professionals can focus on more complex tasks or queries by allowing patients to self-serve.

6. Give Staff what they Need to Perform

Adapting to new technology and routines can cause more stress for workers without proper training. Implementing education programs ensures staff become more proficient quickly in the latest technology and can use the functionality to full effect. This reduces the learning curve and makes staff feel more comfortable utilizing UC.

7. Monitor the Impact of the New Processes

Evaluate the results regarding productivity, staff satisfaction, and patient care. Adjust as necessary for continued improvement.

By streamlining workflows and reducing administrative burdens, healthcare providers can save time and money while improving staff workloads and overall well-being. Burnout is a real challenge facing today’s healthcare workers – and the future of the healthcare industry. Providers must address its root causes and control its impact on staff and patients.

Learn how Mitel can help your healthcare organization streamline operations to reduce burnout and reenergize your staff for improved outcomes.

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