- Pre-pandemic physician burnout was already high, and COVID-19 brought it higher.
- Physicians experiencing stress-related burnout may be in danger of a mental health crisis.
- An overhaul of outdated technology can help support physicians in preventing further burnout and adverse mental health outcomes.
Burnout has been an ongoing concern in healthcare. While the COVID-19 impact on mental health spiked these numbers, the pandemic isn’t the only factor contributing to increased burnout and stress.
Presently, physicians must interact with outdated technology for collaboration, communication, and patient monitoring. Improvements to this technology can positively impact mental health post-pandemic and into the future.
COVID-19 Impact on Mental Health
Physicians, nurses, and staff alike have reported severe burnout and related adverse mental health outcomes for years. COVID-19 required a collaborative approach, ramping up stress, leading to burnout, and having a severe impact on the mental health of all involved.
Experts predict a mental health crisis for physicians, who have reported significant increases in mental health impact post-COVID-19.
A 2018 survey by The Physicians Foundation found 40% of physicians reported burnout. In the spring of 2020, the foundation found this number increased to 58%. COVID-19 led to this increase due to the rapid changes and uncertainty of COVID-19 guidelines, schedule changes, long hours, occupational hazards, communication gaps, and time away from patients.
Improved Technology to Mitigate Burnout
The COVID-19 pandemic brought unexpected and stressful situations in healthcare, but improvements to technology can address many reasons for clinician burnout and suffering mental health.
Currently, many healthcare providers must use fragmented technology. Multiple modes of communication and overwhelming critical information make it challenging to notify the right people, keep everyone up to date, and keep in contact with fellow providers and patients.
A uniform communication platform can be relied on and is easier to keep up with for all messages, collaboration efforts, and changing guidelines. During COVID-19, recommended medications and therapies were rapidly changing, and patient status could change instantly. Cohesive communication gets the right message to the right people, avoiding errors, repeat tests, and confusion.
Moving forward, an update to this outdated technology helps in long-standing concerns from physicians that have impacted their mental health. The 2018 survey by The Physicians Foundation also reported physician burnout was related to interoperability concerns and time dedicated to paperwork.
The study showed physician satisfaction came heavily from patient interaction. Facilitating the improvement to technology physicians can help create a cohesive process for less time spent on fragmented technology and more with patients.