- Healthcare organizations are attempting to balance patient care delivery with clinician and staff burnout
- The global pandemic has had a devastating impact on healthcare workers
- Increasing efficiency, standardizing workflows, and implementing role–based care is essential
In March 2020, The World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. More than a year later, with vaccine deployment well underway, healthcare organizations struggle to balance efficient care delivery with clinician burnout and financial constraints. Increasing efficiency will be key after COVID-19 for both improved clinical and financial outcomes.
For many organizations, saving resources will be vital for future organizational success. The logical way forward is to consolidate and integrate technological systems and to streamline workflow processes.
COVID-19‘s Impact on Healthcare Workers
The global pandemic has had a devastating impact on healthcare workers, from clinicians to the essential personnel who keep health systems operating. Burnout is a legitimate concern.
“Researchers say the pandemic’s toll on the nation’s healthcare workforce will play out long after the coronavirus is tamed,” writes Andrew Jacobs for the New York Times. “In a survey released in September by the online site Medscape, two-thirds of American doctors said they had grappled with intense burnout during the pandemic, with a similar percentage reporting a drop in income,” he stated.
While odds for nurses to have burnout symptoms were more than 2.5 times greater than for physicians, the incidence of burnout among physicians rose significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Increasing Efficiency by Standardizing Workflows and Implementing Role-Based Care
During a national health emergency or while operating with less than optimal staffing levels, time is of the essence. Nurses cannot spend time searching for the right person to contact. Clinicians cannot depend on unreliable or outmoded communication.
It has been and continues to be essential for clinicians and clinical staff to collaborate effectively. Team-based care is essential to this effort, but so is the ability to reach the right people, at the right time, with the right information without delay. Role–based communication – where clinicians no longer have to spend valuable minutes looking for on-call schedules, paging colleagues and waiting for responses but, instead contact a role or team – is key to streamlining care and reducing clinician burnout.
Additionally, COVID-19 has made a strong case for standardizing workflows across the health system, including admission, transfer, discharge, and critical care team activations. Any delay in urgent care, especially during the pandemic, puts lives at risk. Technological advances, including the deployment of clinical collaboration platforms, have helped streamline procedures and coordinate tasks, allowing hospitals and their staff to better organize their time and resources.
“Ultimately, efficiency in the health care system isn’t just about numbers on a page or dollars in a spreadsheet,” write Kavita Patel, M.S. and BJ Schaknowski for Fortune. “It’s about how we treat and care for the people who are treating us. It’s about whether we can make the best use of our shared time and resources.”
For healthcare organizations, success in a world with managed COVID-19 means focusing on factors that impact clinical and financial success. Reducing burnout, increasing efficiency, and making the most of available resources will be key.