What’s keeping today’s health system CEO’s up at night? According to a new survey conducted by the American College of Healthcare Executives, it’s an issue that’s now ranked number one for two years in a row—workforce and labor challenges. Financial challenges, which held the number one spot previously for 16 years, fell to number two in 2021, pointing to the stark reality of today’s labor shortages and issues with burnout.
In fact, it’s no secret today’s clinicians are facing an epidemic of burnout, with emotional exhaustion, negativity, and a low sense of professional effectiveness all common, characterized feelings of burnt out doctors. But the problem extends beyond clinical resources to IT teams, administrative teams, call center staff, and more. And as a result, health system executives struggle to both retain and attract new staff, leading to sleepless nights and the need for a more sustainable solution.
Retention, burnout, and the bottom line
Executives’ worries over workforce and labor issues have coincided with the rise in burnout in recent years. According to last year’s Physician Burnout & Depression Report 2022: Stress, Anxiety and Anger by Medscape, 47 percent of clinicians reported burnout, with ER physician burnout increasing from 43 to 60 percent from 2021 to 2022. Additionally, most physicians report burnout spilling over from work into homelife, with 54 percent saying the stress is severe enough to impact relationships.
The trauma and loss brought on by Covid-19 has also, without a doubt, contributed to the emotional and physical burden placed on clinical teams. With the well-being of providers tied to overall fulfillment, engagement, and quality of care, the organizational cost of physician burnout isn’t anything to gloss over either. In fact, according to a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, models estimate approximately $4.6 billion in costs related to physician turnover and reduced clinical hours is attributable to burnout each year in the U.S.
“At an organizational level,” the study states, “the annual economic cost associated with burnout related to turnover and reduced clinical hours is approximately $7,600 per employed physician each year.”
According to recent research published in JAMA Internal Medicine, time spent on EHRs and documentation work is a major contributor to burnout and turnover. U.S. physicians using EHRs spend, on average, “1.84 hours a day completing documentation outside of work hours,” the study stated. Furthermore, 33 percent of physicians spend two hours or more completing documentation outside work hours daily, while 58 percent of clinicians believe the time spent on documentation work “isn’t appropriate.”
Additionally, 57 percent of physicians said time spent documenting reduces the time they can spend with their patients, while 85 percent of physicians agreed documentation done solely for billing increases their total documentation time.
What role does telehealth play in today’s labor issues and burnout?
Does telehealth help or hinder today’s overwhelmed and overburdened doctors, and can it ultimately help today’s systems scale with limited staff? The answer, it turns out, is complex—many types of telehealth can help with burnout and the need to scale, if implemented correctly.
Virtual care availability and digital health options led to increased engagement for some patients—yet, there often hasn’t been an increase in support teams to handle the influx of patients requesting care from these types of modalities. In turn, the increase in portal messages, emails, or other types of incoming communication from patients means an increase in EHR work—which leaves providers to pick up the slack. And additional administrative work isn’t the only hiccup created as a result of telehealth; today’s EHRs are commonly known to be rife with usability and integration issues, which only exacerbate clinicians’ feelings of burnout.
So how can executives employ the right technology to alleviate administrative overwhelm while scaling their staffing abilities to meet the growing demands of patients?
Asynchronous telehealth and solving for scale
When done correctly, telehealth—and more specifically, asynchronous telehealth–can make every clinical interaction more productive for both patients and providers, while removing the parts of healthcare that are cumbersome. A solution like Bright.md also decreases the time it takes for clinicians to provide care, helping to scale the overall workforce by decreasing time spent on mundane tasks.
Not to mention, an asynchronous telehealth solution like Bright.md integrates directly into an EHR, reducing the time it takes for patients to find care and clinicians’ time documenting the encounter. Automation plays a strong role in Bright.md’s ability to streamline a health system’s processes; our solution automates the elements of existing workflows that are repetitive and don’t require a medical degree. Patient intake, medical history collection and verification, allergy and medication documentation, and prescription orders are all elements that clinicians no longer have to worry about when using a solution like Bright.md.
Bright.md specifically also has the ability to escalate patients out of an asynchronous encounter should that venue of care not be appropriate for their needs. Our digital front door, Navigate, ensures patients get to the right venue of care the first time around, eliminating additional work and confusion for providers, patients, and call center staff. With configurations that help redirect patient volume from overcrowded venues in real-time, Navigate reduces costs while keeping patients in-system for the care they need—ultimately improving outcomes and loyalty.
Lastly, Bright.md includes clinical decision support that encourages clinician autonomy and is crucial for scaling what staff a health system has. Unlike other telehealth platforms, Bright.md includes clinical decision support and content for all conditions we help treat, which make up more than 50 percent of all primary and urgent care visits. With more than 130 diagnoses, our content is evidence-based and updated regularly based on the latest clinical guidelines. And because we have been building and refining our clinical content for more than eight years, our clinical content engine can’t be replicated.
With burnout at an all-time high, CEO concerns over their workforce and labor shortages are justified. However, the right kind of technology can directly impact staff’s day-to-day while solving for scale.
See what impact Bright.md can make on your organization