3 Tactics To Help Prevent Burnout for Healthcare Professionals

Healthcare workers are always exposed to high levels of stress and pressure, as they deal with saving people’s lives daily. Every day, there are people who need different healthcare services, and as long as the human population is growing, the demand for healthcare services is only seen to ever increase. Therefore, healthcare workers have to deliver 100% and more on a daily basis. With this, they are among many professionals who are always at high risk of burnout.

In the 2022 National Burnout Benchmarking report from the AMA, 72 percent of the 11,000 surveyed physicians and other health professionals from nearly 100 institutions said, they were satisfied with their jobs, ut 52 percent are experiencing a great deal of stress. This exhibited 4% more than the previous benchmark survey. 

As of today, an overwhelming number of healthcare workers experiencing burnout. And burned out employees will most likely not function well or quit their jobs. When not prevented right away, this can further lead to a scarcity of healthcare workers, which can compromise the healthcare needs of everyone else in the world. 

The world has to take care of healthcare workers as they care for everyone. They need a sustainable workflow and way of delivering their services, which will ensure longevity and not compromise their own health.  

Major Causes of Healthcare Professional Burnout

The previous pandemic, continuous evolution and emergence of new diseases, and the lack of workforce in the healthcare sector have been causing challenges in how the current healthcare professionals are working. To address and avoid burnout in the sector, it is important to identify the primary factors that have been causing it:

Excessive Time Spent On Burdensome EHRs Outside Working Hours

Electronic healthcare records (EHRs) are among the most common technology solution many healthcare institutions have implemented. However, not all institutions run on up-to-date systems. Some are still stuck with outdated systems, which lack automations and functionalities that can optimize the workflow in the hospital or clinic. 

EHRs can cause a great deal of stress and severely impact healthcare professionals’ mental health and work-life balance. A slow and fragmented system that requires manual data entry can lead to healthcare professionals needing to write down and remember patient information and waste valuable time searching for what they need. 

It can take up space in their mind and cause confusion and complexities when working with other healthcare professionals. A poor, unmanaged system is unreliable and can cause a domino effect of problems in the way healthcare professionals operate and deliver care.

Long Work Hours And Poor Sleeping Patterns

Most healthcare professionals spend long hours working, up to 12 or even 18 to 24-hour shifts, depending on the number of patients coming in. Some on-call doctors report to work even in the wee hours when emergencies are needed. 

With this, the sleeping patterns of healthcare professionals are often irregular and unhealthy. Some do not even get sufficient sleep within a day, despite the availability of on-call rooms because of duty calls. Meanwhile, others develop sleeping problems because of stress. 

This particularly applies to nurses who are responsible to look after patients almost 24/7. During the pandemic in 2020, where there was a surge of patients, 600+ nurses were surveyed, and 55 percent reported having difficulties in sleeping and insomnia. 

Difficulty in sleeping increases the risk of depression, anxiety and insomnia. Additionally, it can cause chronic fatigue, other illnesses, and burnout. 

Financial Stress

Not all health workers have regular employment status. Flawed and fragmented billing cycles in hospitals and other healthcare institutions can also cause delays in releasing the pay for other healthcare practitioners. There are those who have unstable and unpredictable work lives and/or experience financial strain, which impacts healthcare workers’ mental health

Moreover, many new healthcare professionals still have outstanding crushing student loans, which they need to pay during their first few years of working. With this, they struggle with work and their finances, trying to make ends meet. This makes it difficult for professionals to feel like they are moving forward in their careers. 

To advance their profession, they also need to spend more to take advanced studies or conduct their own research, which they have to present to probably get funded. 

There are loan forgiveness programs for healthcare workers in the US, not just limited to doctors, but also nurses, researchers and more. However, it may call for very specific requirements, like serving for a specified time at a certain institution. Hence, not all healthcare professionals can avail of it. 

Signs Of Burnout Among Healthcare Professionals

Job burnout manifests in healthcare workers the same way it does in other workforce segments. It is often characterized by a decline in performance, in general. Employees experiencing burnout often lose their passion for work and are cynical or critical at work. 

They lack concentration, their productivity fluctuates significantly, and they often exhibit changes in behavior and sleeping habits. Some may even use and abuse substances, like drugs and alcohol. Here are signs to determine burnout in healthcare professionals.

  • Chronic exhaustion
  • Losing passion and compassion
  • Detachment
  • Being agitated 
  • Making impulsive judgment calls
  • Unexplained illnesses

It’s almost similar to other signs of burnout in other professionals, but what makes it different is that healthcare workers deal with people’s lives. These symptoms can cost patients’ safety and survival. Hence it is important to keep a close watch on healthcare professionals who have been working long hours. 

3 Ways To Prevent Healthcare Professional Burnout

The demand for quality healthcare is only projected to grow along with the human population. But there are simple solutions and steps healthcare institutions can take to ease the work life of healthcare professionals and minimize the risk of burnout. 

  • Address EHR Interoperability and Efficiency

Digitizing and automating processes in healthcare boosts efficiency and delivers benefits to all stakeholders: institutions, patients and healthcare workers. Optimizing EHRs can be the most basic approach, but it can definitely make an impact on how healthcare professionals take, store, retrieve and share patient data safely. 

Implement an up-to-date and easy-to-use EHR with interoperability features. Making sure that healthcare workers can easily access and share the data they need reduces the amount of information they need to process and remember within a day. 

This frees up headspace, giving them even a bit more time to relax or focus on their patients. It eliminates the risk of information overload, which can reduce the exhaustion and stress doctors and nurses experience daily. 

  • Streamline Medical Billing Revenue Cycle

Despite many innovations in healthcare, medical billing processes are often overlooked. Some institutions use manual processes, which take a lot of time to fully process and release healthcare workers’ paycheques, especially for private practitioners and those practicing in non-economically developed regions of the world.  

Streamlining the medical billing revenue cycle can aid in giving healthcare professionals a more stable flow of income. It’s important to check on your medical revenue cycle steps, and see where there are efficiencies and where solutions can be implemented to improve the process. This can alleviate financial stress for healthcare providers, as well as their workers. 

  • Free Access to Mental Health Counselors

Healthcare workers are passionate about their work, relentlessly devoting their time and skills to other people. Some do this to the point that they neglect their own health, especially their mental wellness. Dealing with life and death daily can take a toll on a person’s emotional wellness. Hence, healthcare institutions need to take the initiative and check on their employees’ well-being and mental health. 

Offer regular check-ins and give free access to mental health counselors, whom they can talk to. This way they can address the earliest signs of burnout and take the necessary steps to prevent or treat it. Offering it free can encourage people to take advantage of it, rather than requiring them to get treatment out of their own pocket.  

Take Care of Those Who Care For Your Health

The whole world relies on healthcare professionals — from birth to their last breath. People seek their help to aid pain and illness and to guide them to live healthier lives. It is only imperative to pay close attention to how all types of health workers are doing, whether they are doctors, nurses, medical technologies, lap personnel, and many others. 

Leverage technology and optimize systems and processes to help make sure that they are at their best across all dimensions of wellness. From physical, to mental, emotional and even financial. This way, they can avoid burnout and deliver the best service they can to those who need it. 

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