Combatting Clinical Fatigue and the Role of HealthCare Tech

The Joint Commission has released a Sentinel Event Alert warning healthcare providers about burnout and trauma during the COVID-19 pandemic. Read it here: Joint Commission – Pandemic Special Edition.

Fatigue and stress among caregivers doesn't need to be the end of the story. Hospital whiteboards with enterprise integration behind the scenes can support improved workflows, helping relieve stress on overwhelmed nursing staff.

Time pressures, complicated patient conditions and disjointed or incomplete communications are often cited as major contributors to clinical burnout. These issues can result in turnover, mental exhaustion, physical illness and even suicide. Researchers in an AHRQ-funded study “found that more than half of primary care physicians report feeling stressed because of time pressures and other work conditions. More than half of the physicians reported experiencing time pressures when conducting physical examinations. Nearly a third felt they needed at least 50 percent more time than was allotted for this patient care function. In addition, nearly a quarter said they needed at least 50 percent more time for follow-up appointments.” An integrative review of the topic published in Clinical Practice & Epidemiology in Mental Health, Prevention Actions of Burnout Syndrome in Nurses: an Integrative Literature Review1 , shows a myriad of reasons for clinical burnout, such as physical and emotional fatigue, a sense of poor individual personal fulfillment and a feeling of failure. Add the pressures of the global COVID pandemic and it seems there’s a perfect storm of distress surrounding caregivers. But that’s not the end of the story.

Patients Experience Burnout Too

A new Wolters Kluwer publication2 referencing “The Burnout Dyad” discusses burnout in clinical staff as well as patients, in which the clinical relationship and care quality may be at risk from both sides of the care equation and examining the role of Continuing Education in combatting healthcare burnout. Patient expectations and increasing regulation may put even more pressure on Care Teams when it comes to patient relationships and the degree to which burnout plays a role in patient perceptions of care.

Burnout is a growing issue for front-line healthcare workers who have worked through the pandemic. Fortunately, HCI Interactive Patient Care solutions offer apps and devices to help combat burnout.

 Nurse leaders can play an important role in recognizing signs of alert fatigue and burnout among Nursing staff. The first step is understanding how to recognize the signs and intervene with one-on-one mentoring programs and support structures. Reports that unfamiliar and overly-complex technologies contribute to feelings of burnout are not uncommon. Burnout can have a detrimental impact on patient-clinician communication, which can lead to unintended consequences for patients.

Clearly clinicians and Nurses need additional support to combat the many pressures they face, but how can technology play a role to help mitigate stress and clinical burnout, particularly now as they respond to the global pandemic?

Making an Investment in the Care Team

Care Teams gain significant benefits from supporting each other and utilizing time-saving tools through interactive patient care solutions.

Self Care

First, social connection appears to be vital for clinicians and Nurses to fight burnout. The American Medical Association[3] recommends establishing group or team Wellness Programs for clinicians that include building social relationships, participating in enjoyable group activities and physical activity to help combat feelings of stress and burnout. In light of the pandemic, grief counseling and ways to manage feelings of being powerless are vital. Clinical staff can be encouraged to create a self-care regimen to help with a sense of being overwhelmed.

Collaboration and Training

Second, Administrators and Nurse Leaders can seek out the kind of technology that will support team collaboration without overly-complex use parameters. Thankfully, many hospital systems are considering and researching systems and tools that help reduce burnout and turnover to establish better patient-clinician communication – which can help with the stresses of care. For Nurses, one-on-one training time and making sure outreach and other emotional and mental health resources are available creates opportunities to make workflow pathways more efficient, encouraging Care Teams to remain engaged and interested.

Digital Hospital Whiteboards as a Tool in the Arsenal to Combat Burnout

Touch-enabled digital hospital whiteboards can save clinical staff as much as 5 minutes per patient , per round, per day. That adds up.

Workflow and Pathway optimization provided by digital hospital whiteboard and patient engagement systems can help decrease clinical staff burnout by simplifying and streamlining normal rounding tasks.
Workflow and Pathway Optimization is supported with Rounding and automatic scheduling apps to support caregivers.
  • When integrated across the EHR, RTLS and other intra-facility systems, digital whiteboards can save time and steps for Nurses and clinicians by speeding rounds and making accurate patient data available to Care Teams in real-time, with secure, one-touch record-keeping and minimal training.
  • They can be tied to RTLS systems to eliminate manual check-in/check-out boards and automatically create a record of rounding and alert response. Digital whiteboards can pull PACs system images directly to a patient room and reduce the amount of time spent chasing after paper records or film jackets and help patients more clearly understand complex conditions, treatments and procedures.
eSitter allows Care Teams and clinicians to monitor patients from the Nurses' Station or central desk via live stream secure video.
From a central Nurses’ Station, clinicians and Nurses can push health education content and specific messages directly to patients on their TV or bedside tablet, monitor a patient’s preparedness for discharge, use live-streaming for monitoring and observation, and video directly with patients via the bedside or footwall TV without having to leave the central desk. 

HCI offers a range of cost-effective, scalable and flexible digital whiteboards, easily configured for specific clinical practice patterns, specialties, or populations to save time and eliminate redundancy for staff retention and wellbeing.

To learn more, schedule a virtual demo so we can help you help your team now and in the future.

1 de Oliveira SM, de Alcantara Sousa LV, Vieira Gadelha MDS, do Nascimento VB. Prevention Actions of Burnout Syndrome in Nurses: An Integrating Literature Review. Clin Pract Epidemiol Ment Health. 2019 Mar 29;15:64-73. doi: 10.2174/1745017901915010064. PMID: 31015857; PMCID: PMC6446475.

2 Study led by Adrienne Martinez-Hollingsworth, PhD, RN, PHN, of University of California, Los Angeles, and Samuel Merritt University, Oakland, Calif.; a paper in the December special issue of The Journal of Continuing Education in the Health Professions. The journal is published in the Lippincott portfolio by Wolters Kluwer. (doi: 10.1097/CEH.0000000000000391)