Council Post: Clinician Burnout Goes Beyond Staffing Shortages—How Technology Can

Cofounder & CEO of PointClickCare, a leading healthcare technology platform enabling meaningful collaboration across the care continuum.

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It’s no secret the rate of clinician burnout has sharply accelerated, but while many are quick to blame staffing shortages plaguing the industry, the real root cause goes far beyond the workforce crisis, excessive documentation and lack of organizational support. To understand, we must reflect on all the ways healthcare has changed in recent years. To be frank, healthcare is a lot more complex today when it comes to care. More than ever, we’re seeing an increase in stakeholders and risk-bearing entities involved in a patient’s care journey, and there is a new need to satisfy them all, creating more administrative burden on clinicians.

Each stakeholder has their own set of information and data they need, and they all want a say in how to care for the patient. This not only creates stress, fatigue and burnout, but it also impacts the quality of care and patient satisfaction and doesn’t allow clinicians to perform at the top of their license, creating downstream effects on the entire healthcare system.

Recent data indicates clinician burnout is costing the U.S. healthcare system about $4.6 billion a year. Studies show that if the trend continues, 75% of healthcare workers may leave the profession by 2025.

How can we solve—or at least make real strides in improving—the issue of widespread clinician burnout? We must first understand the root cause and factors at play that are contributing to an increase.

Solving Pervasive Burnout

When we think about what is at the root of clinician burnout, we first need to understand the change that’s led to today’s state of play. The industry has shifted significantly in the past two years, specifically in how people work. We now see fewer care providers going into buildings where actual care is taking place. Instead, virtual care has taken the driver’s seat, creating an increased need for digitized information. Add to this the increase in stakeholders involved in patient care, and we’re seeing a whole new level of complexity.

Previously, a clinician would need to provide information to a patient and their family, but today, there are multiple risk-bearing entities involved in care. It’s not just about providing care anymore; it’s about informing care and doing it in multiple ways to satisfy the needs of all stakeholders. Not only are clinicians focused on providing quality care to patients, but they must also juggle supporting the needs of managed care partners.

Technology and digitization are essential here. We know that the more information clinicians have about a patient, the better they can perform. With the right solutions in place to support real-time decision making, clinicians can share the right information about a patient’s care. As we leverage patient data to create more standardized and evidenced-based care models, it will become easier for care collaborators to surface abnormalities in a patient’s chart and communicate those findings asynchronously, allowing the appropriate stakeholders to intervene when necessary. When evidence-based care models are adopted across care teams, true collaboration is realized.

The bottom line is technology and digitization allow for more informed care, which better informs clinicians to make the right care decisions, ultimately helping clinicians feel more valued in the process. By allowing technology to do what it is designed to do—automate and eliminate low-value work—care providers can spend more time on direct care and operate at the highest level of their license.

Achieving Value-Based Care

Digitized, unified and standardized data delivers the information clinicians need to improve quality of care at an optimized cost. The more prepared and empowered clinicians are, the better they can deliver the best possible outcomes. And quality care is more important than ever under value-based care (VBC) models.

Under VBC, organizations require the right technology in place to manage patient-centric data across all risk-bearing entities and demonstrate that the appropriate measures are being taken throughout a patient’s care journey. Interoperability removes the need for clinicians to spend hours tracking down data from past visits and creates a unified, longitudinal patient record that is continuously updated with new information, empowering all stakeholders involved in a patient’s care to make quick, intuitive and often life-saving care decisions. Valuable information-sharing between points of care isn’t possible if operations aren’t digitized, and patient records aren’t exchangeable.

An investment in digitization not only serves the C-Suite but enables organizations to deliver preventative, holistic and higher-quality care at lower costs, helping us effectively achieve the goals of VBC.

Role Of Emerging Technology

There are also several emerging, innovative technologies such as AI, voice recognition, virtual assistants and LIDAR (light detection and ranging) that could potentially have a real, positive impact on clinician burnout. This innovation in MedTech has led to the development of an increasing number of connected medical devices that can generate, collect, analyze and transmit medical data in real time. The data, along with the devices themselves, are creating the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT)—a connected infrastructure of medical devices, software applications and health systems and services that is expected to swell to a $158.1 billion valuation in 2022.

This emerging technology allows us to imagine a world in which a care provider can easily document exams, create orders and retrieve clinical data following a patient visit using just their voice. In fact, survey data shows that 94% of clinicians believe speech recognition and virtual assistant technology will improve the ability to document care, and 97% of clinicians currently using this technology are more focused, personable and engaged.

There is great urgency to solve the care challenges we face presented by clinician burnout. We can support and empower those who commit their lives to the care of others by continuing to develop innovative solutions that will automate and digitize areas of their job that take a great deal of time and detract from the care itself.

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