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Combatting clinical burnout and fatigue

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 allowed for this patient care function. In addition, nearly a quarter said they needed at least 50 percent more time for follow-up appointments.”

Two hospital workers seated on floor.

An integrative review on burnout, Prevention Actions of Burnout Syndrome in Nurses: an Integrative Literature Review1, published in Clinical Practice & Epidemiology in Mental Health, shows a myriad of reasons for clinical burnout. The include physical and emotional fatigue, a sense of poor individual personal fulfillment and a feeling of failure. Add the pressures of the global pandemic and it seems there’s a perfect storm of distress surrounding caregivers. But that’s not the end of the story.

Ways to help: making an investment in the Care Team

In a recent survey of Nurses, 56% of respondents said their organizations were ineffective at dealing with nurse burnout. You can help spot the signs of clinical burnout and take steps:

Self care programs

First, social connection appears to be vital for clinicians and Nurses to fight burnout. The American Medical Association[3] recommends setting up group Wellness Programs that include building social relationships, participating in shared group activities, and physical activity to help combat feelings of stress. In light of the pandemic, grief counseling and ways to manage feelings of being powerless are vital. Encourage clinical staff to create a self-care regimen to help reduce their sense of overwhelm.

Nurses suffering from burnout can benefit from self-care and social connection programs.

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. Today, many hospital systems are considering smart systems and tools that help reduce burnout and turnover. Create opportunities for down time and stress relief with one-on-one training, and make sure outreach and other emotional and mental health resources are available. These types of programs encourage Nurses to remain engaged and interested.

Additional training and license support can help caregivers with burnout.

The role of nurse leaders

Third, Nurse leaders play an important role in recognizing signs of alert fatigue and burnout. They can learn to recognize the signs and intervene with mentoring programs and other support structures. Make it clear that your teams can talk with you honestly about what they’re feeling, and collaborate to come up with workable solutions. Leaders looking at simpler technology platforms can use them to help Nurses combat stresses they experience from using unfamiliar technologies. Look at ways to reduce confusing or contradictory workflow processes to reduce frustrations.

Nurse leaders can play an important role in communication and collaboration.

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

Digital whiteboards in the arsenal to combat clinical 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.
Support Workflow and Pathway Optimization with rounding and automatic scheduling apps to save workflow time.
  • When integrating across the EHR, RTLS and other existing systems, digital whiteboards can save staff time and steps by speeding rounds and making accurate patient data available. A smart platform presents patient data in real-time, with secure record-keeping and minimal training.
  • RTLS systems integration eliminates manual check-in/check-out boards, and staff location is automatically available. Digital whiteboards pull PACs system images directly to a patient room and reduce the amount of time spent chasing after paper records or film jackets. Nurses can also push health education content and specific messages directly to patients on their TV or bedside tablet.
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 use live-streaming for patient monitoring without having to leave the central desk. In addition, they can video chat directly with patients via the bedside tablet or footwall TV.

Patients experience burnout too

Frustrated Emergency Department patient on hospital bed.

A Wolters Kluwer publication2 referencing The Burnout Dyad discusses burnout in clinical staff as well as in patients. In it, clinical relationships and care quality are shown to be at risk from both sides of the care equation. The publication also discusses the role of Continuing Education in combatting healthcare burnout. Patient expectations and increasing regulation 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. A smart enterprise platform that gives patients access to their health records and provides options for them to say connected with their social circles helps them relax and encourages treatment adherence.

HCI offers a range of scalable, integrated digital whiteboards, easily configured for specific clinical practice patterns, specialties, or populations. That can go a long way toward saving time and eliminating redundancies.

Learn how 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)

3 https://edhub.ama-assn.org/steps-forward/module/2702511