The improvement of patient care involves making trips to the hospital, clinic, or medical office efficient. Patient experiences can improve through the use of health informatics, technology, and data. There is also data suggesting that the professional well-being of those providing the care to patients ultimately contributes to their outcomes and, as a result, also needs improvement. According to the New England Journal of Medicine's spring 2018 Catalyst report, 83 percent of clinical staff members view their organization as experiencing physician burnout.
How Does Professional Well-Being Contribute to Patient Care?
According to a study published by the Mayo Clinic in 2016, there's an alarming rate of physician burnout occurring throughout the country. Some of the main reasons for burnout include increases in their workload, declining pay, work environments that are chaotic, consistent pressure, and dealing with health insurance companies. Physicians also take issue with the need to transition from paper charts to data records.
Kyle Amelung, Senior manager of Express Scripts, writes in Medical Marketing & Media Magazine, "Digital solutions, such as electronic prior authorizations, clinical direct messaging, and real-time prescription benefit information will become the norm, not the exception."
When physicians experience burnout, it compromises patient care in a myriad of ways including them suffering from poor decision-making, as well as impairments with their attention and memory. It isn't uncommon for them to experience deteriorations with communication with their peers and patients, and for them to become distracted.
These physicians feel less engagement and empathy in the outcomes of the decisions they make daily. Because their bedside manner worsens, they'll sometimes make devastating mistakes. According to a study published in 2014, there's a high mortality rate among doctors who are emotionally exhausted.
Ways Medical Professional Well-Being Can Improve in 2019
Solving the problem of physician burnout and improving medical professional well-being is a complex issue. In the past, it wasn’t taken seriously, and physicians were left to navigate these problems alone or with inspirational videos that didn’t offer them much help.
Addressing well-being during 2019 for medical professionals can include:
- Promoting workplace wellness initiatives whereby assessing and tracking well-being over time occurs.
- Allowing staff members to say no to unrealistic workloads and ensuring they have adequate breaks throughout their day and in between shifts.
- Providing support counseling services to help staff understand why they're experiencing burnout and how to solve the problem.
- Developing a wellness plan for each employee to help them stay on track and show that you’re invested in their overall health and well-being.
Remember that wellness programs for employees are never a one-size-fits-all approach. You'll find this is especially true if you're attempting to connect all the components of wellness. Every employee has different goals, as well as a different journey they'll take to meet them. It's for that reason there must be flexibility in workplace wellness programs. When staff members can select which types of initiatives and activities they would like to participate in based on their interests and needs, they'll be more likely to succeed in experiencing less workplace burnout.
It's possible to put the patient at the center of care when physicians and their staff aren't experiencing burnout and their well-being is a priority. While it's challenging to maintain a balance for many healthcare professionals with heavy workloads, implementing a wellness plan isn't impossible and is a critical step toward ensuring patient care improves during 2019.