Clinician and nurse burnout is the major public health issue of our time.
Physicians, nurses and other care providers report a high level of burnout in nursing associated with interruptions from texts, alerts, alarms, pages and phone calls. These are now essential parts of the care delivery toay and they can be highly disruptive to nurses, doctors and staff.
This is compounded by high levels of clerical data entry due to EMRs (electronic medical records). Doctors, nurses and caregivers report being overwhelmed by data entry, multiple communications and more.
Care team stress and nurse burnout doesn’t just affect the individual(s) experiencing it. It’s also a barrier to high quality, reliable healthcare.
Nurse Fatigue Effects
Burnout has adverse effects on:
- Quality of care
- Patient safety
- Patient experience
- Length of stay
- Patient costs
A New Type of Communications Brain to Reduce Stress
Few businesses deal with the unrelenting pace of change prevalent in patient care at hospitals.
Patients undergo near constant changes in status, condition, treatment and medications. Hospital staff rotate in and out, three times a day. Physicians come and go; constant interruptions are ever present. In short, hospitals are frightening incubators for dropped, incomplete, redundant or misdirected communications.
Consequently, hospitals must look at a new type of clinically integrated network. In healthcare, people’s lives depend on accurate information changing hands within seconds or minutes, similar to the military. A garbled, misdirected or dropped communication can result in a tragedy that might have been avoided. That’s where new, purpose-built technology arises.
Care team collaboration platforms are a new type of brain ingesting and prioritizing updates for patients, care givers, staff, physical environments and more. Think of these platforms as a CPU (central processing unit) that stays calm and focused no matter the changes in a patient’s condition or environment. Even in extreme situations, care team collaboration platforms are 100% dedicated to ensuring the correct patient information is always available.
How Can I Reduce Stress in My Care Team?
Burnout happens when workflow demands, like nurse patient ratio, exceed provider capacity. Hospital and care team workflows can be examined to pinpoint congestion, points of failure, causes of alert fatigue and other issues that accelerate care team stress beyond their resiliencies.
To fix it, start by educating yourself on your organization’s current levels of nurse fatigue and care team workflows. Keep a workflow diary tracking stressors occurring most often in your daily workflow. You may be surprised to see how much of your team’s stress is caused by repeated, misdirected or dropped communications.
Device Consolidation Reduces Nursing Burnout
Our cell phones are the central nervous system for modern communications. Think about all the devices consolidated into that small footprint: phone, email server, stereo/radio, voice recorder, game player…even a flashlight. Prior to smartphones, these were separate.
Now, think about all the methods most hospital care teams use to communicate about patient care. Pagers, texts, notepads, overhead intercom, phones, desktops, laptops, tablets and more. Multiple devices with multiple points of failure are tiring and can lead to nurse fatigue.
Wouldn’t it be great if you only had to pay attention to one device, because all patient alerts and care team requests were contained in your mobile device and the devices of all care team members? Better, updating information in real time and shown in an easy-to-read screen highlighting recent updates, changes in patient or caregiver status, emergency alerts and much more.
Reducing Nurse Fatigue
Once you’ve made notes on your workflow(s), look for items related to communication and collaboration. Ask yourself the following:
- One device – How much more efficient could you be if care team requests and updates regarding a patient were delivered in real time to a single device residing in your pocket?
- Protection – How different would your day be if you knew someone in the communication loop has your back should something go wrong, like a teammate?
- Routing for critical tasks – How less stressed could you be if you knew, at the start of your shift, that important messages were escalated automatically to you and others as needed?
- Routing for non-clinical tasks – How relieved could you be if non-critical tasks, like getting a patient’s drink of water or adjusting room temperature, were routed automatically to appropriate staff?
- Reduce guesswork significantly – How much more time would you have to provide quality patient care if you didn’t have to track down changes in a patient’s status, medication or location?
- Team status – A patient’s care team can include dozens of healthcare professionals. How much time would you save by knowing who is assigned to specific patients or covering specific departments with ease?
Next Steps for Reducing Burnout and Optimizing Efficiencies
In 2019, most hospitals will be moving to an intelligent platform for real-time, unified clinical communications. Is your hospital one of them?
Talk with your colleagues and supervisors about your workflows, using the notes you’ve gathered. Ask them questions like:
- Could a single platform for care team communications help reduce our stress and allow us to focus on providing patient care?
- Could it help us reduce medical errors due to misdirected, dropped or unanswered communications?
- How would it impact patient safety, quality of care, length of stay and readmission rates?
If your team agrees that a single source platform for healthcare communications would help improve workflow, reduce nurse burnout and deliver a better patient experience, start looking at platforms like QUARC.
We’re happy to answer questions, show you a brief demo or send you more information on care team collaboration.
Want to improve patient experience?
Check out QUARC.