Healthcare workers spend their days (and sometimes even their nights) caring for others and making the world a healthier place.
However, burnout is a constant struggle in healthcare that takes a real toll on physicians and practices alike—but it’s not limited to physicians alone. Around half of U.S. healthcare workers are burned out on the job, and many felt this way before the COVID-19 pandemic even began. That means not only physicians, but also front office staff and practice managers, can all feel drained at work on a regular basis.
This brings up a critical question: Who’s looking out for healthcare workers and taking care of them? And with physician and staff burnout reaching nearly epidemic levels, how can practices prevent it to protect their patients, providers, and the other healthcare heroes that keep things running behind the scenes?
Here’s what you need to know about physician and staff burnout, and how to prevent it at your healthcare practice.
Understanding the Causes and Effects of Healthcare Burnout
Burnout remains a long-standing and substantial problem in healthcare for a number of reasons. Several factors contribute to physicians and office staff burning out, including:
- Long working hours
- Excessive administrative work
- Manual electronic health record maintenance
- Poor work-life balance
- Lack of autonomy
No matter the reasons behind it, burnout has countless negative implications for healthcare practices. As with anyone who is burned out at work, it can affect clinical and non-clinical staff’s ability to perform their job well, often leading to reduced productivity, higher turnover, poor quality of care, decreased patient satisfaction, and double the risk of adverse patient safety incidents.
How to Prevent Physician and Staff Burnout at Your Practice
Despite the negative implications for healthcare workers experiencing burnout, there are steps you can take to prevent it from occurring at your practice. While you may not be able to combat physician burnout in its entirety, identifying opportunities to improve is a great place to start. You can prevent burnout among physicians and practice staff by:
1. Digitizing Patient Registration and Intake
The patient registration and intake processes need to be as smooth and seamless as possible for everyone from physicians and office staff to the patients they ultimately serve. It’s the first interaction in the healthcare journey, and it essentially sets the tone for what’s to come in terms of the patient experience.
With that being said, registration and check-in is often the most tedious and labor-intensive step for all involved—especially when practices use manual, paper-based processes. The good news is, you can optimize your registration and intake workflows, minimize the administrative burden for office staff, and reduce wait times for patients, all with the help of the right automation technology.
Rather than collecting patient data and manually entering it into your practice’s electronic health record (EHR)—a slow process that’s prone to error—you can enable your patients to complete the necessary check-in and registration forms electronically, at their own convenience. Plus, with a solution that integrates seamlessly with your EHR, your office staff will no longer need to manually input data.
2. Empowering Patients with Self-Service Tools
Healthcare consumers today expect an exceptional digital experience from their providers—and they’re not afraid to leave for another practice if theirs doesn’t offer one. Meeting those expectations means empowering patients to be more proactive about their own healthcare, which is where patient engagement technology comes in.
By giving patients access to self-service tools for scheduling their own appointments, accessing health records and lab results, requesting drug refills, and communicating with providers, you can increase patient satisfaction and minimize burnout, all at the same time. When patients are empowered to take action themselves, it cuts down on phone calls and other manual work for physicians and office staff.
3. Automating Patient Outreach Workflows
In the era of value-based care and population health, staying connected to patients between visits to your practice is essential. However, you need a way to automate your outreach so you can stay connected to your patients without needing to take on more manual work or impeding your staff’s efficiency.
Fortunately, patient engagement solutions are uniquely designed to automate patient outreach via the method each individual prefers most. You can even target various patient populations to:
- Collect patient reported outcomes (PROs)
- Assess functional status
- Collect practice feedback
- Work toward meeting population health goals
Preventing Burnout with Patient Engagement Technology
The right patient engagement technology can have a dramatic impact on your day-to-day operations, helping to simplify practice workflows and minimize physician and office staff burnout. As a result, you’ll be able to deliver better, more efficient patient care—without overwhelming or overworking your team in the process.